Custom application - UPS shipping automation

Another example why sometimes it is a good idea to employ a custom programming regardless of the initial cost of the design and implementation.

Problem assessment.
Our client needed help with automating UPS shipping procedures. One of their partners generated retail orders that were to be shipped via UPS. Each order would be delivered directly to the customer. Because those orders were generated outside of the existing automated system, to process them orders would need to be entered manually into the UPS shipping software.

To help automate the order shipping we built a custom application that would load and parse the source data and match the ordered items with an existing database records (item shipping weight was needed to complete the UPS import data). Using parsed records and the linked database catalog information the application creates a batch import file for the UPS shipping software. Because the created batch import file contains all the necessary information for the UPS software to process shipments, the import becomes a one step operation that results in a batch label print. The entire process (from the orders file to the shipping labels) takes 5-10 minutes.

Price tag.
The time required to complete this project was 10 hours of custom programming and testing. At $150.00 per hour the complete project cost: $1500.00

Return on investment.
In this particular case the cost savings came from the labor requirements reduction. On avarage it would take 8-10 labor hours to generate the shipping labels for a batch of 600 to 1000 orders. All of that labor had been reduced to under 10 minutes required to generate the labels with our custom application. The total cost for our client was ($18/h times 6 batches a month) ~$900.00 a month. The cost of developing a custom application had been recovered within the first two months after installation.

The decision to chose a custom application was relatively easy to make, the cost savings calculation had been based on the hourl labor rated but in fact after installing the application our client experienced reduction in labor overtime that is paid at a higher rate. Using our custom application also provided addional benefits by improving the overall order turn around time and reducing shipping errors. Since the initial install we provided the client with two more updates that enabled them to process batch order (flash-sales) from two more online retailers. Because the processing flow is the same for all of orders, regardless of the order source, the cost of updating the application was minimal (2-3 hours). To add aditional order source we only needed to modify the data import specifications and UPS shipping account info.

No comments:

Post a Comment