At a news conference during the annual McLeod Software Users’ Conference being held this week in Birmingham, AL, company founder and president & CEO Tom McLeod revealed various enhancements to the firm’s solutions and discussed how well the firm is performing.
“While 2011, like 2010, was a record revenue year for McLeod, 2012 is running well ahead of the 2011 level, putting us on track for another all-time record revenue year,” stated McLeod. “The company now has over 250 employees and we expect to pass the level of 700 active customers before the end of 2012. Our offices in Chicago and Salt Lake City continue to expand and add staff as important training and implementation support sites for our customers.”
He also related that the company’s “pace of product development continues to accelerate. We expect to release another large round of new features in the spring of 2013 as part of our semi-annual product release. Through our Executive Advisory Council process, our customers continue to be an important part of driving those innovations.”
Turning to current product developments, McLeod said that at this year’s conference, the firm is unveiling the latest versions of its flagship LoadMaster and PowerBroker products.
He said that “out of the wide range of enhanced functions and new functions, several stand out starting with one termed “Feasibility.”
“LoadMaster Enterprise now offers a powerful new tool to help planners identify the best driver for a load being planned, based on the real world constraints of any driver’s current position, current load, and available hours of service (HOS),” said McLeod. “This new function called Feasibility checks the driver’s available HOS and estimated time of arrival for dropping the current load underway, estimates detention time based on historical averages, and then the run required for picking up the load being planned. This function helps the planner determine if a specific driver can take the load and make all of the appointments, including pickup, stops, and delivery for a particular load, on time and within the driver’s availability determined by HOS rules. Feasibility sets both the planner and driver up for success by allowing a quick analysis of whether or not it is feasible to put that driver on that load.”
A new module for LoadMaster and PowerBroker creates an interactive interface with digital office telephone systems. McLeod said outbound calls are “as simple as clicking on the number inside the system; the phone will autodial. For inbound calls, each individual LoadMaster or PowerBroker user can be configured based on their role. The telephone system integration module will read the inbound caller identification information and the destination extension in order to determine the correct context for the call. Based on this context, it will then provide pop-up menu buttons for the user. The pop-up menu buttons allow the user to select from several options specific to this context for the call, even before they have answered.”
He noted that, based on the user’s selection, the appropriate screens and tabs will then open and populate on the user’s screen. The context identified for the inbound number can be a customer, shipper, carrier, carrier driver, or a company driver. Depending on the role of the person being called, the system may offer buttons for the user to pull up different functions and populate them. These functions include orders, locations, movements, customer/carrier/driver master files, call-in screens, and planning or dispatch screens. “The speed at which inbound calls can be managed, and appropriate information populated based on context saves significant time and keystrokes for handling those calls and getting the appropriate information at the user’s fingertips.”
According to McLeod, the offer/order function in PowerBroker has been expanded to provide valuable automation. “Now brokers can send and receive rate confirmations or terms acceptance electronically with carriers. The outbound process for carrier offers is now available as a ‘one click’ solution for carriers who want to accept an offer. This facilitates the goal of many brokers of ‘being easier to do business with’ for their carrier network. The order/offer process has live history tracking. This means that everyone who needs this information can view outstanding offers, the history associated with that offer, the source for the carrier to whom the broker sent it (i.e.: identified from a load board), how many carriers were contacted or called, and how each carrier responded, if there was a response.”
PowerBroker’s new Lane Analysis is similar to the Lane Analysis module in LoadMaster Enterprise for carriers. McLeod pointed out. “For brokers, the analytics measure both margin and order revenue. This new reporting and analysis facility gives brokers clear visibility of order margins by lane and market. Brokers can now use their history data to create their own historical truckload rate index.
“The McLeod Mobile Applications introduced at our 2010 Users’ Conference continues to grow by leaps and bounds,” he continued. “This year, Version 4 of the application has greatly expanded the set of mobile device functions and capabilities. The application runs on both Android and Apple iOS devices. It gives McLeod PowerBroker and LoadMaster users secure access to their systems, alerts, and vital information when they are away from the office.”
McLeod pointed out that the firm has “developed substantial new functionality for our LoadMaster LTL system that is being released as part of this 11.1 Version of our products. The system has been unified with McLeod financial systems, driver, tractor, trailer, and safety systems in the core LoadMaster Enterprise system. New visual cross docking capabilities and visibility for inbound tractors are included in this version of the product. We are also releasing a new integration solution for our LTL product with Qualcomm’s mobile communication and workflow offerings.”
Also new for LoadMaster and PowerBroker customers is an off-the-shelf integration solution for companies running the Microsoft Dynamics GP financial system. “This robust integration solution employs Microsoft’s Web Services and e-Connect tools to deliver a seamless integration solution supported by McLeod Software,” McLeod explained. “This very tight off-the-shelf integration solution means that McLeod customers can take advantage of the features in the Microsoft Dynamics GP solution, while keeping the tightly integrated transactions in their LoadMaster and PowerBroker systems intact and traceable.”
Looking ahead, McLeod said the firm is unveiling two new products at the conference that will be installed at select customer sites in the next few weeks. These will then be released as generally available products in the first quarter of 2013.
He said the first of these, McLeod Navigator, “has taken our Business Intelligence offering to the next level in collaboration with several of our key customers and the work we have done with the Balanced Scorecard Institute.
“The second brand-new product being introduced is our visual workflow solution,” he continued. “This new visual workflow solution is revolutionary for our industry. It allows us to implement sophisticated workflows and business process automation (BPA) solutions across the entire range of McLeod Software applications. For the customer, these workflows and BPA instances can cross functions, departments, and even companies. The tool employs a visual drag and drop design to model the business process, then has a built-in facility to simulate and test the workflow. Once tested and verified, the customers can deploy it instantly and closely track the working business process.”