Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Posted by Louis D'hondt on 10/08/2017


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The phrase “proper planning prevents poor performance”, also known as the “5P's of success”, promotes the importance of planning for a successful outcome. In this article I want to show how those 5P’s can be applied to route optimization. Here's how you evaluate your route planning software by running through the 5P-checklist.


  1. Proper

"adapted or appropriate to the purpose or circumstances; fit; suitable"

The circumstances in route optimization contain multiple stakeholders. Stakeholders with different roles and varying interests:

  • Top management: What's the ROI? Does the optimization tool save money? How much does it cost? Does the application align with the business?
  • Planners: Is the tool easy to use? Can I modify plannings? How can I pass it through to the drivers? Can I report to the management?
  • Drivers: Is the planning realistic? Does the tool take my knowledge of the area into account?

'Proper' implies quick reliable answers for every stakeholder.
First use must be a walk in the park. The right information needs to be at hand.

  1. Planning

"Plan: a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance"

Creating the plan manually often requires the biggest part of the effort. On the other hand, the time spent on adjusting the automated result is a fitting measure for the quality of the planning and for the user-friendliness of the application.

Additional to the usual restrictions, other less obvious factors can make the planning more valuable.
Less obvious factors like:

  • for what timespan can we plan?
  • Will overnight stops be scheduled?
  • Is break time included?
  • Is it possible to give a higher priority to certain orders?

Having a tool at your disposal that respects all restrictions and quickly delivers a reliable plan frees up time for the planners.

  1. Prevents

"to keep from occurring; avert; hinder"

Besides delivering the fitted results, the algorithm must be able to take tons of unpredictable factors into account.

  • Does the route optimization software take factors such as traffic jams into account?
  • When someone cannot execute an order due to circumstances beyond his control, can the planning be rescheduled to prevent failure?
  • If an order cannot be executed, how is the client informed?
  • Does the system allow to insert unexecuted orders without too much effort?
  • How much does the fill rate need to drop before the algorithm allows a pickup? Loading and unloading needs to be quick and easy.
  • How much time does it take to make a plan? Are temporary results saved?
  1. Poor

"Not adequate in quality or quantity; inferior"

We only know whether the tool's results are good or poor if a well-developed measurement system is incorporated to track transport-KPI's over time. The impact of a planner's experience - which guides him to make manual changes - should be measured.

Performing a retrospective analysis will uncover valuable insights.
These insights are discovered through different measures, KPI's and dimensions:

  • Measures: €, km, #stops, #orders, ...
  • KPI's: €/ton, €/km, €/stop, Km/stop, stops/route, km's/route, average distance between stops, ...
  • Dimensions make comparisons possible. Comparisons between periods (day, week, month), drivers, regions, order volumes, warehouses, ...

Analyses can be performed frequently or over a longer period. They provide trust and stability as outliers are pointed out.

  1. Performance

"The manner in which or the efficiency with which something reacts or fulfills its intended purpose"

The performance of the tool is the way the above-mentioned requirements are fulfilled. Even under stress, the system must run smooth and stable. The use of a tool should take the entire operation to the next level

  • What was the cost of transport?
  • How many pickups or deliveries were late? 
  • How did the planner handle unexpected problems?
  • Did the application integrate well into the entire system?
  • Are all stakeholders satisfied?


It is fair to say that a thorough evaluation of a route optimization system is no piece of cake. The system should be investigated from different perspectives. The 5P's of success act as a checklist to do so.

Topics: Route optimization, Transport

Louis D'hondt

Written by Louis D'hondt