Not all fleet planning problems are the same and to get the best results different planning solutions are required. Whether it's strategizing for future growth or managing day-to-day operations, the right planning approach can make all the difference.

Let's delve into strategic and operational route planning to understand their differences and impact on fleet management efficiency by looking at two examples.

Operational and strategic route planning explainer video

Understanding Strategic Route Planning

The first is Nicole, the logistics director of a craft beer distributor gearing up for expansion into a new region. Nicole employs strategic route planning to make critical decisions, such as:

  • determining the ideal location for a new distribution center
  • delineating territories
  • specifying fleet size and vehicle configurations
  • establishing visit frequency
  • optimizing routes to minimize costs while meeting service targets.

Strategic route planning empowers Nicole to assess various delivery scenarios swiftly, enabling her to make informed decisions that not only optimize costs but also enhance customer satisfaction and driver morale. Once Nicole finalizes her strategic plan, she has a set of master routes ready for daily deployment, laying the foundation for efficient deliveries.


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Navigating Operational Route Planning

Now, let's meet Joe, a planner at a building supplies distributor tasked with the daily challenge of operational planning. Unlike strategic planning, which focuses on long-term decisions, operational route planning deals with the real-time scheduling of orders to minimize delivery costs.

For Joe, every day brings new orders, customer locations, vehicle availability, and driver assignments. In this ever-changing landscape, Joe relies on an operational planning solution that can rapidly analyze variables and produce optimal routes to ensure timely and cost-effective deliveries.

Despite the complexity of scheduling, Joe's operational solution enables him to generate efficient routes quickly, allowing drivers to hit the road with confidence. By publishing these routes, Joe ensures seamless coordination between the warehouse and drivers, streamlining the delivery process for maximum efficiency.


Strategic and operational route planning play pivotal roles in driving efficiency and success. Whether it's charting long-term growth strategies or orchestrating day-to-day operations, the right route planning software can unlock opportunities for improved fleet productivity, driver performance, and customer service.

If you're seeking a trusted partner to tackle your strategic and operational planning challenges, look no further than Descartes. Our comprehensive route planning, optimization, and dispatch solutions are designed to transform fleet performance, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive operational excellence. Contact us today to discover how Descartes can elevate your fleet management capabilities and propel your business toward success.

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