Business owners from different industries have seen dramatic changes in how business is done during the past decades. Ubiquitous digitalization, economic globalization, and dozens of other aspects slowly but surely have been changing the business environment all across the globe.

Unforeseen circumstances such as the COVID-19 outbreak have demonstrated that there’s something more important than the ability to operate effectively in current conditions. Internal flexibility and resources for rapid changes in business processes may play a decisive role in determining your future position in the market.

In logistics, the approach to documentation management plays a significant role. In this business, there are many moving parts (some of them are literally moving), and the adoption of a reliable document management system (DMS) can quickly and effortlessly bring some surprisingly valuable benefits. Compliance with laws and regulations, solid safety precautions, and new growth points for business are only a couple of examples of how document management systems can help logistics companies.

This article will consider the main challenges a typical logistics company faces every day and look at how documentation management software helps overcome them.

Document Management Challenges that Logistics Companies Suffer the Most

From the documentation management perspective, there are challenges common for all companies and those that only logistics companies’ employees face. Since documents describe how business should operate and reflect even the most minor actions, the need to store, archive, and receive required documents on demand is vital for any player in the market. A seemingly simple set of tasks can quickly become unbearable if you don’t pay enough attention to document workflow automation.

Without a proper system for document processing, you risk not only your time but also your money. For example, according to the statistics, it costs 10-11 times more to retrieve a lost document than to file a new one in terms of labor costs. Believe it or not, lost or misfiled documents are not as unusual as you might think and can make up 3-8% of the total document flow. Additionally, the search of a required document can take significantly longer than extracting helpful information from it.

In logistics, the first thing that comes to mind is the need to deliver goods on time. Either you work in a newborn company that wants to prove itself or for a reputable logistics organization, your clients will expect timely delivery disregarding the circumstances, especially if you work with perishable food or medicines requiring special delivery conditions. In such a situation, it’s vital to track the slightest changes and inform responsible employees about their occurrence as soon as possible. For this purpose, adopting a reliable document management system with real-time notifications is irreplaceable.

One of the primary purposes of warehouse document management is to ensure that you have enough goods in stock and help you track the packages’ movement. At any time, a warehouse worker should be able to request the number of goods or materials available at the warehouse and determine the current position of a specific item. If a warehouse isn’t storing enough products of a particular kind or it takes too long to find a specific package, it may lead to unsatisfied clients and reputational losses. Without a reliable and practical approach to logistics document management, you’re risking disrupting the supply chain. Document digitization and adopting faster mechanisms of accessing required documents may become pretty handy for alleviating these issues.

The coronavirus outbreak has brought a bit of chaos to the once-established world of logistics and transportation. Border closures, supply disruptions, and dozens of other unexpected consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a significant rift in both local and international supply chains. As a result, logistics companies were forced to reevaluate their business processes to adapt to new conditions. Document management was one of the aspects that required close attention. For example, the elimination of paper documents is a measure that can help to decrease the number of physical contacts between suppliers and customers and speed up numerous processes involved in shipping operations.

What’s a Document Management System for Logistics

The primary purpose of a document management system is to provide the employees of logistics organizations with centralized access to the entire set of documents and features that simplify work with them. There are different types of such systems, and you can find a solution that better suits your budget, current requirements, and future needs. For example, a logistics software development company can create a stand-alone document management application or build an integrated module to expand the functionality of the existing ERP system.

Also, such a system can be self-hosted or cloud-based. Self-hosted document management systems are stored on the servers of a logistics company, and it bears all the costs of maintaining and updating servers. Cloud-based solutions allow logistics companies to “borrow” computing resources from cloud service provider companies for a fixed monthly fee. Cloud-based solutions are more affordable for startups and small logistics companies. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that you’ll face a loss of performance since cloud technologies are reliable and show excellent scalability.

If you decide to work with a custom software developer, you can be sure that the peculiarities of your work will be reflected in the final software product. The system will be able to work with all possible types of documents that you use. Its features will allow recognizing the difference between invoices, shipping slips, and customs documents and providing the end-user with the required document he or she needs at the moment.

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Benefits of Adopting a Document Management System

As we mentioned before, the risk of damaging or losing a specific document can lead to additional expenses and time losses. The best possible way to prevent your logistics business from the undesirable consequences of losing a valuable piece of paper is to eliminate the use of paper documents as much as the situation allows. In the case of the logistics business, you’ll get a double win.

Besides the eliminated risks of damaging documents, you’ll be free from the need to duplicate and tons of them every time you send a new cargo to the customer. You have to know who, when, and how will ship the package, what’s the destination point, who’s the client, and what are the special requirements. As a result, you’ll have to deal with extensive manual paperwork. The paperless business approach implies that all the required documents will be at the employee’s fingertips. Additionally, using the system for choosing among sets of templates will increase productivity even more.

The need to comply with laws and regulations is a painful topic. If your logistics company is engaged in international transportation, you have to follow the rules and regulations created by the governments of different countries. Also, don’t forget about the impact of coronavirus on constantly changing rules of doing business. The need to follow tons of regulations may cause a lot of confusion and lead your logistics business to significant losses. Luckily, a document management system can help your business to meet the demands of these standards.

All the records regarding local and international laws can be stored and systematized in order to provide compliance specialists with quick access to them in the case of need. Also, you can use this info for educating the employees about the latest changes in laws affecting the activities of your logistics company.

Read Also Why Custom Software is the Way Forward within the Logistics Industry

In addition to all these laws and regulations, there are safety standards that allow your logistics business to ensure the safety of your employees, customers, and cargo. A document management system can help business owners make sure that warehouse workers and drivers will timely receive instructions prescribing rules for the safe handling of cargo.

Logistics companies have to deal with documents containing sensitive information about their employees and customers. Criminal history records of potential new employees, payroll records, customers’ contact information, insurance details are just a few examples of data in your possession that you would not like to see in the wrong hands. Providing third parties with access to such kind of information will harm your reputation in the best-case scenario. In the worst case, you may face legal proceedings, the consequences of which are difficult to imagine. To avoid such a situation, it’ll be a good idea to invest in a reliable system that provides access to sensitive documents only to verified users.

A document management system can automatically capture pieces of helpful info that your logistics company generates during the working process. Some valuable information can be dispersed among several documents of different types. Your custom software solution can analyze tons of documents to capture and archive the data that may become useful in the future. Suppose you decide to research the history of your relationship with a specific customer. In that case, you can use a couple of mouse clicks to retrieve such information as invoices, delivery notes, warehouse receipts, client feedback, and so on. Additionally, you can “feed” this data to an AI-powered predictive analytics module of your ERP system to forecast some important trends such as seasonal demands of certain products. This information will help you make data-driven decisions and better manage your further activities.

Conclusions

The arrival of new technologies allowed logistics companies to turn their documents from an unbearable burden into a source of new possibilities. Improved management on all organizational levels, more transparent workflow, enhanced customer experience, and quick access to historical data can be achieved by a relatively effortless adoption of custom-made document management software. With a reliable management system, you can use the abundance of logistics documentation generated by your organization to find bottlenecks causing harmful delays and develop valuable insights. If you want to know more about how document management software can help your business, please contact us.