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The Differences Between Routing and Scheduling and Why You Need to Excel at Both

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

If you manage delivery operations or oversee a mobile workforce of service or maintenance professionals, chances are you’re already using some sort of route planning and scheduling. But understanding the unique advantages of each of these tools could make you more effective, increase your business’s delivery or service capacity, and generate a lot more revenue.

Executing scheduling and route planning without first understanding their respective purposes is kind of like trying to eat a bowl of soup with chopsticks. In this article, we’ll show you precisely what each tool is designed for, the advantages they offer, and why you need to do both well.

How Is Route Planning Different From Scheduling?

Scheduling is the who, what, and when of field operations planning. Route planning is the where and the how.

Scheduling involves taking orders or service requests, determining how many employees you need to have working to cover those orders, and assigning workers to orders during specific times. To execute seamless field operations, you almost always need to do scheduling first.

Route planning is the process of taking your schedule and mapping out precise routes for delivery drivers or service professionals. Route planning is used to optimize routes, while scheduling is used to optimize workloads and workforce availability.

Routing and Scheduling: A Complementary Duo for Deliveries

Together, scheduling and routing help you increase your bottom line, handle more orders, and scale successfully. Like the peanut butter and jelly in a lunchtime classic, routing and scheduling are good on their own, but they’re even better together. Here are just some of the benefits you can get from perfecting your scheduling and route planning processes.

Increased revenue

Scheduling ensures you have enough, but not too many, employees working to fulfill orders. That means you’ll be able to meet demand while reducing wasted spend. If your scheduling is haphazard or ineffective, you could be paying workers to sit around.

Once you have a solid schedule in place, you can optimize your route planning. In a case study conducted in conjunction with an Asian logistics company, McKinsey found that algorithmic route optimization increased profits by 16% without diminishing quality. Using software like OptimoRoute to quickly and efficiently calculate the best routes cuts down on planning time, increases driver capacity, and reduces miles driven.

Increased efficiency

Scheduling and route planning have the power to increase revenue, in part because they also increase efficiency. After all, wasted work hours are most commonly a result of inefficiencies.

Great scheduling ensures that you meet deadlines. Great route planning reduces fuel costs, cuts down on drive times, and enables managers to schedule breaks for mobile workers who have the lowest impact on a service route. Telgian’s planning became 82% more efficient after using route-optimization software, reducing the number of work hours required for planning from 312 to just 56. Using OptimoRoute, Telgian was able to rapidly calculate the most efficient routes for their safety inspectors’ multiday journeys and easily see where additional appointments could be accommodated.

Increased productivity

Research has shown that happy employees are, on average, 13% more productive than unhappy ones. And a great way to keep your team happy is with good planning.

Truly exceptional scheduling and route planning allow you to give employees and delivery teams their work schedules further in advance, which means those employees have more flexibility to plan time with their families or find coverage if they want to do something like attend a child’s sports game.

Gallup analyzed data from 49 publicly traded companies and discovered that businesses with a ratio of 9.3 engaged employees for every one actively disengaged employee earned 147% more per share than their competition. Employee engagement and productivity have a large impact on the overall success of a company.

Ability to scale your business

Mastering scheduling and route planning will help you adapt when you need to scale your business. This is true for sustained overall scaling (like opening a new location or expanding your delivery territory) and short-term scaling to meet a seasonal demand increase.

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