Where’s my stuff?

When organising an event, or shipping specialist items, you need to know when, where and how your items are being shipped, and how soon they will arrive. Tim Stackpool suggests some tech to keep a watch on your critical inventory.

You may not be a trucking, warehouse or logistics expert, but some EA and PA responsibilities need extra special attention. Put these online services into your arsenal to remain super prepared and super organised.

You may have to deliver different board papers, hard copies and other items separately to directors in different locations, using your own drivers, departing at different times. Surprisingly many of the apps and services you might already use contain methods of managing such deliveries. Zoho (zoho.com) has a logistics app that manages shipments, vehicles, and drivers, as part of their ‘creator’ series. The app also includes automated email and SMS notifications and full mobile support, pretty much guaranteeing a smooth logistical operation.

MYOB (myob.com) has their own logistics tool too, called CargoOffice, and it’s entirely web based, meaning there’s nothing to install. The interface allows you to create shipments that capture all the required information, generate connotes, stickers and all sorts of documentation. And if the recipient is ‘in-house’, they can book the shipment directly. It includes mobile access where you can update or change the status of the shipments, (letting the recipient track the progress of the delivery), and any charges associated with the delivery will be reflected directly in MYOB, reducing the need for any further data entry.

Not to be outdone, but rather than creating their own built-in logistics management, Xero (xero.com) has teamed-up with My Trucking (mytrucking.com) to seamlessly share information between the two applications. My Trucking has been designed to replicate the traditional diary or spreadsheet system, and it greatly improves the workflow by managing jobs through to invoicing. Xero worked with the trucking company to aid the design and have pretty much replicated the good old paper system that most use, but then hosted it in the cloud, ensuring it’s simple and practical to use. Everything is accessible from any computer, anywhere, anytime with a login and password.

If you are looking for something stand-alone and super simple to use, Easy Drop (easydrop.co) is an app for Android and iPhone that tracks the driver, and also collects a signature on delivery. The delivery driver can even take a photo upon delivery, which is matched back against the tracking system. Best of all, the service is charged per delivery, so there’s no monthly contract obligation, making it great for one-off, or rare and unique delivery needs.

When it comes to international deliveries, many firms have accounts with the big shipping companies, which can be impractical if you only ship overseas on the odd occasion. Easy Ship (easyship.com) was originally developed to assist online vendors find reliable and cost effective ways of comparing the shipping costs from well-established courier companies. Even if you just need to send one parcel, by selecting your country of origin on their website, you can then determine which courier company to choose via price and delivery time to the destination. With their pre-negotiated shipping rates, they claim you can save up 70 percent on some delivery costs.

Interparcel (interparcel.com) offers a similar service, however, the country of origin is less restrictive than that of Easy Ship. You might find that prices vary depending on the types of delivery warranty offered, with some countries of origin and delivery not offering any type of guarantee at all.

Irrespective of what type of service you use, a quick online perusal can ultimately ensure better reliability, as well as on-time and on-budget delivery.

Tech expert Tim is the technology writer for Executive PA Media. He can be heard on talk radio in Australia and is a tech presenter who speaks at conferences and trade shows about technology’s impact on work and lifestyle. www.timstackpool.com