7 Things You Should Know About the New Catapult QMS

By Chris Dillard

We recently launched a revamped version of Catapult’s flagship product, QMS, on July 11, 2018. As a former user of Catapult QMS while working at a freight forwarder, I’m very confident the new version offers the best of both worlds: full of efficiency boosting functionality and a beautiful user interface. Few offerings can say they have years of knowledge and offer a state-of-the-art system that answers the needs of today’s users. At Catapult, we have worked hard to combine our contract expertise with a focus on system usability to ensure efficiency within your organization. I am one of the chief designers of the new QMS. Here are seven things that I think new and current users will find exciting:
    1. Intuitive and streamlined search

      Rates have a lifecycle: Contract, Quotation & Tariff (if filed with the FMC). It doesn’t make sense for a user to navigate to multiple places within a system to retrieve rate data. The new search panel in Catapult QMS allows the user to quickly search various types of rates housed in your environment from a single screen. Additionally, should the search interface for a Sales person be the same as someone in Operations or Management? We don’t think so. We believe the user should be allowed to define their search interface. The software must fit the user–not the other way around.
    2. Simplified quoting

      To help our users quickly and efficiently prepare quotes, we created a three-step process for sending rates: Prepare the Rates, Assign the Client, and & Output the Data. This simplified approach improves usability and significantly enhances your quote speed.
    3. Self-defined quote forms

      Over the years we learned every client requires their own quotation format. Nobody wants to use the same form that is being used by their competitor. Additionally, many clients have regional needs. A branch in North America may need a vastly different quote format than a branch in China. With this in mind, the new QMS allows users to create custom forms for the entire company, region-based forms for different branches or design unique forms for each mode of transportation.
    4. Multimodal quotes (Truck + Ocean or Truck + Air + LCL)

      A fundamental flaw in many freight rate management systems is storing door (ground) costs as part of the primary mode of transportation (ocean or air). When the client is ready to book, operations is left with many questions: How do I execute this freight? Who is used for the drayage? Is the primary carrier or another party responsible? How, and to whom, do I pay the bill? In the New QMS, multimodal freight is stored by different legs of the move. Users are not limited to the number of legs in a shipment. Each leg stores who is responsible and the charges associated, ensuring accuracy in execution, billing and payment.
    5. Bulk Quoting Tools

      It is not uncommon for your clients to request multiple rates to be quoted. We made sure users can execute large requests in the New QMS with two features: Multi-Lane Rate Searches and the Price Editing Wizard. The Multi-Lane Rate Search provides the user with an interface to search multiple origin and destination pairs and/or multiple modes of transportation at once. Users may input parameters directly into QMS or populate an Excel sheet that is read into the system. Once rates are returned, the user can quickly modify one or many results through the Price Editing Wizard. This tool shortcuts traditional markup routines. From here, users can quickly add new charges, add margin or modify base rates in a few clicks.
    6. Mobile

      Today’s user is not confined to a cubical in a high-rise building. Working from the road is a common practice. It doesn’t always make sense to turn on a computer just to query rates or to provide a quotation to a client. The new QMS is mobile friendly, allowing users to quickly find rates and send quotations to clients from their smartphone.
    7. Enhanced Administrator Controls

      As our customer base has expanded, we have found roles, permission and features needed vary by client. With this in mind, we made the new QMS extremely flexible. Modules can be turned on and off through the Control Panel. Administrators can create custom roles with permissions tailored to fit the organization’s needs.
Simple tasks have also been considered. Our new system strives to eliminate the need for “behind the scenes” work. Users now have GUIs for virtually all needs. Reducing Helpdesk tickets and providing users with tools to “self-help” is a win for all parties involved.

Whether you’re a current customer or just browsing, please reach out for a demo!


About the AuthorChris Dillard 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.

The New Catapult QMS®️ 5.0 – Drivers of the New Release

Some of you may already know that in July 2018, Catapult is launching a brand-new version of our Quote Management System (QMS) – the Catapult QMS 5.0. This is our flagship product. As one of the main architects of this release, my excitement is growing as we count down to the official launch. We’ve given a few of our customers sneak previews and even enrolled two clients in an early beta testing program. Thus far, the positive feedback has exceeded our expectations. While I would like to tell you about the release, I don’t want to ruin the surprise. So, instead, I will share how Catapult crafted our new vision of the future. Below are the core concepts we adopted that allowed us to revamp and reimagine QMS 5.0:

Expert-Oriented User Experience

Many quote management systems are designed by industry outsiders. These opportunists lack the “insider” understanding of the day-to-day inside NVOCCs and forwarders. While working at an NVOCC, I used to sling rates to customers on a daily basis. Over the years, I’ve tried many contract and rate management products. I can tell you that most products have sidelined user experience and expert knowledge in exchange for a lower price point. When I started designing QMS 5.0 in 2017, I knew that the focal point had to be the end-user experience. In preparation for this project, I spoke to our existing users, interviewed companies who decided not to use Catapult, and poured over our backlog of feature requests from customers. Lastly, I applied my personal knowledge of preparing freight quotations to ensure everything we developed would delight actual users.

Focus on the Quoting Process

Having used Catapult QMS in my previous job, I knew Catapult’s ability to manage rates and contracts was second to none. While Catapult has always offered quote management capabilities, they were always overshadowed by contract and rate management. Armed with clear and resounding feedback from the market, we set out to solve the quote management problem by focusing on an extremely easy-to-use interface that speeds up responses to end-customers with the highest degree of accuracy. To meet this goal, we considered real world use cases. We designed the entire user experience based on a number of standard (and non-standard) flow of the quoting process. This meant that the new system had to be smarter, adaptable to the variety of processes at different forwarders, and — most importantly — be available on the go.

The Digitized Logistics World

Today’s marketplace is full of buzzwords. These include the cloud, blockchain, big data, the internet of things and artificial intelligence. If we look past the hype and focus on our needs of today, there is one primary goal for our trade; we must advance digital business practices in the transportation and supply chain industry. For too long, we’ve been looked at as a backwards change-resistant industry. The finance, retail, and healthcare industries used transportation as a case study of what happens when there is a lack of innovation and abundance of complacency. In the last few months, many of the largest players in the freight space have shown willingness to accept the digital revolution. I am happy to announce we will be a player and contributor to the paradigm shift. Our industry has the potential to leapfrog the others, because we’ve seen their mistakes. QMS 5.0 is designed around an increasingly younger and more digitized workforce. This group of users expects an intuitive interface that requires minimal training (think Instagram), the ability to analyze options (think Kayak), collaboration capabilities (think Google Docs), and a seamless experience regardless of platform (think Wired.com). The software should not stand in your way, but aid in your daily routine. Catapult QMS 5.0 is, by far, the most exciting project I’ve worked on in my professional life. The object of this blog is to give you a high-level understanding of why this new release is so meaningful to Catapult and myself. I will be writing more about the release soon, so please check back. Perhaps this blog may make more sense after you have seen the release. Oh, and feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email.  

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.

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