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Route Planning for Sales
VanessaEntero
Happy Tuesday everyone,
For a little while now I have joined the sales force of an cosmetics producer and am searching for a fitting tool for my route planning needs. As there are a great many programs which deal with this topic I have a hard time evaluating which app is the best one for my needs. Hence I thought I might get some expert advice here!

What I would need for my tour:
- I have all my customers (350) in an Excel Sheet and would like to directly import that somehow
- I have two types of customers – VIPs whom I visit biweekly and normal cusomters whom I visit once per month. Are there tools which can automatically plan such different criteria?
- should work on my android phone/tablet too
- And of course it should optimize my tour kilometres-wise

Any suggestions which tool would support me best? Input is really highly appreciated, as itīs just a lot of unnecessary work to plan those routes manually. And time is so precious
werdnanostaw
The perfect solution to your problem would have been Microsoft Streets and Trips 2013 but MS discontinued it in 2014(?).

If you are in Europe there was Microsoft Autoroute 2013.

The 14 day demo versions are still available on the MS web site.

https://www.microsoft.com/streets/en-us/free-trial.aspx

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/autoroute/free-trial.aspx

If you run the demo in a virtual PC (say Win XP in VBox) that you discard every 14 days you can run it forever.

As an individual I would have no ethical concerns about doing this because the program is no longer sold by MS so I wouldn't be depriving them of any income (I have a licenced copy so it's not an issue) but as a business you would have to check whether this is legal and ethical for you.

There was another MS program for business called MapPoint that was S&T on steroids.

There is a text tutorial for MapPoint on the following website:

http://www.mapping-tools.com/howto/mappoint/introduction/

They used to have an excellent video tutorial on MapPoint. I've had a quick look around the web site but I couldn't find it. If you contact the very friendly owner of the web site he may provide you with a link if it is still available.

I haven't looked at the text tutorial but the video tutorial covered the route planning situation you have described.

Since MapPoint was discontinued Mapping Tools has pivoted to support another mapping product that MAY do what you want to do. Have a look around the web site or contact them to see if they can help you.

If you do decide to go down the S&T route (pun intended) it would allow you to import your addresses from your spreadsheet and then optimise the route to minimise the time taken to visit all sites. S&T would also allow you to manually re-order the sites or re-route to avoid known route problems (eg don't try and turn left at a particular intersection on a busy road because there aren't any traffic lights) by clicking and dragging the route.

Once you have decided on the optimum route you can export it as a GPX file and then import it into say a dashboard satnav personal navigation device (PND) or an Android tablet. I have no experience with what device or Android app would be suitable for doing this. Hopefully, someone else on this site can provide you with suggestions / recommendations.
werdnanostaw
See this post for details of the product they now support:

http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/5610-maptitude-2016-a
VanessaEntero
Dear werdnanostaw,

Wow – thanks so much for your great, detailed answer! Highly appreciated! I have heard colleagues talking about the fact that they used to use MS S&T, or rather Mappoint.

However, I would use the software continuously for business reasons and honestly don’t want to hassle with the repeated download ;P but rather have something where I upload my data once and only have to update changes or new customers instead of the whole basis) Cause I have to admit your explanation how to use it mobile sounds really techie (omg – thatīs probably the girliest thing I have ever written )

MS S&T might be a good interim solution though. Two questions:
- Can S&T also order customers, not only by the optimized route but also decide when to visit whom according to the setting of customer priority (e.g. visit VIPs biweekly?)
- If the last version of S&T is so old…arenīt the maps outdated?
Still I would love to find a more permanent solution.

And yeah, I did try to look around, as there are quite a couple of suppliers of routing software… but I haven’t found the right one yet. RouteXL is a great program, but does require a constant “input” on my side, whereas I would rather like to put in my data once and get a plan for the following weeks automatically. Badger or salesnavigator app seemed more suitable but cannot take into account “visitation cycles” (or however one calls that in English ).

The quest continues
Big THANKS in anyway werdanostaw!
werdnanostaw
You may wish to send me your email address in a Private Message and we can continue this conversation offline.
VanessaEntero
Regarding Maptitude: Thatīs really impressive how much country/customer information (income, unemployment, industries etc.) is procesed in this tool! Love how it visualizes the KPIs on the maps, thatīs really a cool extra! Even if itīs not the main function I am searching for. I already booked a live demo with them So letīs see! Again – your help is highly appreciated werdnanostaw!
KeithSupers
I was a very happy User of S&T until they discontinued it.
But I found a really good substitute by now - http://www.portatour.com. It ticks off all the bulletpoints you mentioned – mobile usbility, route optimization, factoring in call cycles (thatīs what you call it in English btw) and plans ahead for a couple of weeks. They also have a free trial and their support is awesome in my experience.
Hope that helps you getting on track
VanessaEntero
Thanks for the input Keith! Looking through their website right now and it really seems like a perfect fit with what I need. Exactly, the thing with the call cycles was tricky to find. Will definitely give it a shot! Mucho Merci
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