As a college-educated computer scientist, Bastian Späth understands how IT solutions are developed from the ground up. For more than 15 years, he has spent every workday collecting requirements, finding ideas, developing designs, setting up projects and getting them safely across the finish line.
Self-service: connect forwarding networks yourself
When a freight forwarder joins an alliance, it has to create a multitude of IT connections to tap into the data flow. With a self-service platform, companies can connect and check their connection to a logistics network themselves.
One of the most expensive and time-consuming preparations for joining a forwarding network is the establishment of all the IT connections needed for exchanging data. This task lends itself to a self-service approach, with plenty of benefits:
- The network partners can manage many IT issues independently without assistance
- The connection process is systematic and IT-supported
- Functional tests run automatically until final certification
In other words, a self-service portal eases the burden on the network or alliance's central IT department and allows the new partner to configure the settings itself.
Self-service simplifies integration
Joining a new forwarding alliance involves many different setup tasks: creating users, managing login details, assigning user rights. Without self-service platforms, they require multiple people at different companies to interact in a largely spontaneous email-driven process: employees at the new freight forwarding partner, employees in the central IT department, administrators and consultants at the IT service providers. A service portal can support everyone involved in this process, especially the employees at the new alliance member. They connect their transport management system (TMS) to the alliance's central IT platform and then test the connection. In addition, existing network partners can also use test automation to check for and fix data transfer problems and errors.
Automated procedures accelerate integration tests
Since the central IT platform's requirements for exchanging data with partners are well known and documented, the IT teams at new partners can usually establish the basic connection without too many difficulties. A self-service portal gives them the additional ability to use automatic procedures to test and verify the entire data flow in detail. This requires the platform to have various predefined test scenarios that have to be completed when making the connection. The test results are automatically stored and documented. Finally, at the end of the connection procedure, the freight forwarder has to prove that its systems can provide the appropriate technical response to all required communications.
Self-service: be better organised, cut costs
Self-service functionality enables forwarding alliances to establish functioning IT connections with new partners in less time. This is largely because integration tests are run automatically instead of having to be coordinated across multiple organisations. At the same time, user rights can be digitally assigned using the two-man rule – thus ensuring that only authorised users and systems receive access to sensitive data or critical system areas. All this is done without involving the central IT departments. That makes complex processes much leaner – and far more cost-effective. An organisational improvement with many winners.