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28 aug 2019

3 Ways to Integrate Your Disparate Systems

Gain visibility into your operations

Technologie

Are disparate systems slowing down your waste and recycling operations?

The Waste and Recycling Industry is highly competitive and quite complicated with all its moving parts. Especially now in a rapidly changing recycling commodities landscape, there is more demand on waste and recycling businesses to operate at peak efficiency. Those businesses that do not operate efficiently struggle to survive. One of the leading causes of inefficiency in waste and recycling operations is the use of non-integrated or disparate operating systems.

There are various software, hardware, and technology systems that waste and recycling operators use to run their businesses. They include: billing systems, account management/CRM systems, scale house, inventory management, dispatching, route planning, container tracking, and customer payment channels. When a waste and recycling company tries to operate using disparate systems, communication breaks down and operations can dramatically slow down, or worse, come to a screeching halt.

Here are five  examples of disparate systems with siloed information:  

  1. Customer management and financial reporting systems
  2. Paper route sheets with no communication to field
  3. Spreadsheets for scale reporting that don’t communicate directly with the scale house
  4. Online payment systems that are not connected to your customer management or financial reporting
  5. Separate dispatch and container tracking systems

The Result:  How is this currently impacting your business?

  • Customers are billed incorrectly
  • Dispatchers assigning work orders without available containers
  • Drivers not servicing customers who have paid
  • Drivers servicing customers who have not paid
  • Drivers missing stops and back office staff not knowing why
  • Drivers not knowing their routes, and other inefficient routing situations
  • Manual transfers of data creating errors and slowing down service
  • Customers become frustrated!

Luckily, there is an alternative! There is a scenario where every part of your business operates in tandem, like a well-oiled machine. We can start to envision the ideal scenario:  A customer requests service through an online self-service portal. The customer can see all the available services, container sizes, and even set his own delivery time window. Once the customer makes his decision, a work order is automatically created, and a truck is dispatched in real time. Your dispatcher can track the driver’s course, and when he successfully delivers the container you and your customer are alerted. Billing and payment are handled with no problem leaving your customer happy and your staff feeling accomplished. Finally, all the data from the transaction is easily accessed and will be included in financial reporting.

The only way to accomplish this operational work flow is to use a fully integrated solution.  The automation and added efficiency clearly elevate the customer service of your business and offer some direct cost savings as well. So how, exactly, does a Waste and Recycling operation achieve this level of integration?

Here are 3 ways to a Fully Integrated Solution

  1. Connect your back office and the field.  All your efforts to improve your customer service may be jeopardized if you cannot communicate information to your operators in the field. Paper route sheets, texting or calling drivers is not safe and makes it next to impossible to communicate clearly, never mind the unnecessary trips back to your office by your driver. You need to use an in-cab mobile solution that communicates directly with your work order management system and eliminates breakdowns in communication. With an integrated mobile solution your dispatcher can even see your fleet to make sure that every job is being completed in a timely manner. If there is a reason why your drivers cannot properly service a customer, they can easily take pictures and send images back to the office to document exactly why they were not able to complete the service.
  2.  Implement Customer Self Service.  Being available online  is essential in today’s market. Whether your customer is a resident seeking to start a weekly pickup, or a construction company in need of a roll-off container the same day, people seek convenience for service, and being able to easily order service online is crucial. With an integrated customer self-service portal your customers can easily go online, see what services and times are available, click and go! You will get updates when a container arrives and receive notification from the company when it needs to be serviced. The system will allow customers only to setup service during available time windows with available containers. Making a payment is simple and you can save your information to make it easy to add new service in the future. The best part is that your back-office operations are not stuck manually inputting account information, looking at route sheets to see availability. It can all be automated.  
  3. Integrate Customer Management, Billing, and Financials.  In the modern technology landscape, there is no reason your operations should not consolidate customer management billing, and financial systems. Manually entering data, jumping between various spreadsheets, and sending back and forth reports among various staff is simply not scalable. Customer management, billing and financials should be consistent and provide all the information needed to your staff to gather important information. Furthermore, being able to see scale-house data and easily view material reports should all be accomplished from the same platform Having one system to easily access customer data and financial reports is essential to maintaining an efficient waste and recycling operation.

Going the extra mile: Implement Route Optimization

Route Optimization is the ultimate mark of a fully integrated solution. Not only can your customer schedule their own container service, but now your routes are being optimized and dispatched to the drivers in real time. Imagine that your customer schedules a roll off container and your route optimization system can instantly dispatch the job to a driver carrying an empty container back to the yard. It will introduce enormous fuel savings, as well as allow your operation to handle new capacity.

By accomplishing a fully integrated system, your waste and recycling operation will be able to compete in this extremely competitive market. You will also introduce immense savings and even more importantly, you will have complete visibility into your business and will have the technological infrastructure to grow.