Catapult QMS – We Continue to Make Enhancements

What’s the best way to improve one’s software? Leverage the knowledge of your customers. Often, this critical step is overlooked as the “experts” undervalue the knowledge of users in an industry, especially the freight forwarding industry. At Catapult, we know the experts are our customers, and your input ensures our products continue to mature and remain at the top of the class.

It’s been awhile since my last post, but today I get to share some of the exciting enhancements Catapult’s developers have rolled out of the shop. These new features, outlined below, have been born from customer testing, adoption and feedback. With a big “THANK YOU” to our clients, here are some newly released QMS enhancements:

Enhanced Info Panel - Resizable, Powerful & Intuitive

Our clients fell in love with the Info Panel found in QMS 5.0, but they want more. More features, more power and more customization. And, we agree. Over the last six months, the Info Panel continues to evolve. Now, users have icon-based navigation, user resizing, enhanced customization and state saving. Below is an overview of these changes:

• Icon Based Navigation - Icons visually express objects, actions & ideas while preserving valuable screen real estate. Icons have been proven to not only add curb appeal, but to help the user associate buttons with meaning. With this in mind, the Info Panel leverages a new icon-based navigation to replace the, previously displayed, textual buttons.

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• Resizing - This new feature provides our users with the ability to display additional information on screen by adjusting the size of the Info Panel. Not only do users have the ability to see more text in the Info Panel (to minimize scrolling), users gain the ability to see additional data points on screen while exploring the surcharges of a contract rate.

• Enhanced Customization - Thanks to the ability to show more data on screen, through resizability, we can offer our users more customization options. We don't all work the same nor do we use the same points of interest to make decisions. With that in mind, the ability for users to change how data is displayed remains a key part of QMS 5.0 and continues to be a pivotal aspect of our software.

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• State Saving - A couple of users (and if you are reading this blog, thank you!) contacted me and suggested the Info Panel should remain on the last selected tab while the user selects different rates from the Grid View or Visual View. I agree. It should, and now it does! Consider the following example:

should your television reset the volume to the minimum value every time you change the channel or should it stay at the same level until the user changes the volume? Yes, option two, please.

Sell Rate Manipulation - Removing Charges; One at a Time, or Many at Once

The power of any quoting software is directly tied to the user’s ability to quickly convert a buy rate into a sell rate. This simple task is more complicated than placing a margin on a buy rate and sending the quote to a client. Users need to manipulate a quote to a format that matches the needs of a client. This means the user is constantly adding local surcharges, consolidating surcharges or removing surcharges that may not be applicable to the end recipient.

With previous releases, Catapult has addressed adding local surcharges with our powerful Surcharge Manager and consolidating surcharges with our unique “Roll Up” feature. Now, Catapult has directed our attention to the final consideration - removing surcharges. This feature allows users to remove surcharges based on users’ conditions. Users may remove surcharges based on type, class, value or other user-selected settings. This process can be done for each buy rate or by manipulating all buy rates in a result set through our exclusive Price Editing Wizard. We believe this feature is a game changer and will significantly reduce the time needed to prepare a quotation.

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Online Quote Acceptance Evolved

While Online Quote Acceptance isn’t new, it has been rebuilt from the ground up. This new iteration of the feature allows for greater client feedback. Users can now accept or reject any single rate directly from a quotation (no longer requiring the recipient to accept or reject all rates). Recipients can provide valuable feedback pertaining to freight rates. These bits of information are vital to staying in front of customer needs. Additionally, when a rate is accepted by your client, the recipient can begin supplying valuable information such as the commodity, number of containers, requested ship date or the desired ship date through the Online Quote Acceptance feature. This streamlines the process from shipper to forwarder to carrier. Any reduction in time chasing details greatly improves the efficiency of all parties involved.

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Performance Optimizations

While Catapult strives to ensure our new features improve the user experience, we know some features will not be visible to the end user. Under the hood, we continue to make leaps forward ensuring our software remains optimized for our users’ environments. Recently, we streamlined how modules are loaded into the client’s browser through “lazy loading”, reducing overhead and improving the user experience. Additionally, we reviewed our code with a fine-tooth comb to ensure we utilize common components to reduce code redundancy. These types of performance-related improvements translate to faster site loading and quicker rate results.

The Future

Catapult has a pipeline full of client driven enhancements. A few new features that will revolutionize the way our users interact with QMS include a new Blended Rates feature, a customer driven Rate Prioritization module and a brand new way to view surcharges with our client defined Surcharge Groups. I am very excited about to share our new features and look forward to the continued feedback from our clients.

As always, if you are interested in learning about any of the features outlined in this post, please contact your account manager. If you have never experienced Catapult QMS, please contact us for a hands-on demo.

Finally, I would like to conclude this blog post with a thank you to all our clients who share their ideas and methodologies. Your feedback helps ensure QMS remains the industry leader.

About the Author

Chris Dillard (cdillard@gocatapult.com) heads up the Product Design function at Catapult, an Accelya Company. He has eight years working in the transportation industry including a stint managing client rates and carrier contracts at TSC Container Freight prior to creating and maintaining a self-designed freight quotation system. Chris is an avid student of technology, process engineering and user experiences.