- Excel Route Planner simplifies delivery route planning with familiar tools.
- Excel route planner eradicates manual route planning and promotes automated routes planning.
- Excel Route Planner can handle complex route optimization scenarios and multiple vehicles.
Various methods have been introduced to plan routes, either manually or automatically. One of the go-to tools for planning routes is Excel route planner. Excel route planner gives you ease to organize and plan hundreds of stops in just a few minutes.
In this blog, you will get to know what Excel route planner is and steps to plan a route using Excel route planner.
So, let’s get started!
Table of Content
What is Excel Route Planner?
Excel route planner is a tool that extracts and leverages data directly from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to plan routes.
Until now, route planning was a manual process and it was prone to human errors. Also, manual route planning methods are time consuming. To get over these challenges, Excel route planner is used. It is fast, convenient, and error-free.
It extracts data from the Excel spreadsheets like client names, addresses, contact numbers, service time, time windows, email, notes, and much more. So, your manual work is eradicated and all the processes are automated in Excel route planning.
Now, we will look at steps to plan a route using Excel route planner.
What are the Steps to Plan a Route With Excel Route Planner?
Now as you know the meaning and some of the benefits of Excel route planner, let’s go deeper into the topic and look at 4 steps to plan a route using it:
1. Gather data and make an Excel spreadsheet
- Firstly, you have to collect all the data required to plan routes for your business.
- This includes customer names, addresses, phone, email, notes, region, zip code, and time windows.
- This list can be shortened or extended as per your business requirements.
- Now, create an Excel sheet and label the columns according to the data you wish to add.
- For example, if you want to include names, addresses, zip codes, and phone numbers, create four columns and name them accordingly.
- For example, if you want to add an address column, you can name it anything like “Addresses”, “Address line-1”, or “Detailed address”.
2. Sort data according to your requirements
- Once you are done creating and filling the Excel sheet, next you have to sort them in an order for more organized data.
- To sort any column, click and drag all the cells containing the data. Also, include the header row to maintain column alignment.
- Once the column is selected, go to the “Data” tab.
- In the “Sort & Filter” group, you can select whether to sort in ascending or descending order.
- Once you have set the sorting criteria, click the “Sort” button to apply sorting to your data.
To help you get started with Excel route planning, here is a free Excel template. You can modify the columns according to your needs and import directly into an Excel route planner.Download Template for Free!
3. Import Excel spreadsheet and match data
- Now that you are ready with your Excel sheet, it’s time to import the file into your Excel route planner.
- To do so, open the Excel route planner.
- Next, click on “Upload File” and select the Excel file from your system, and click on “Open”. Also, you can drag and drop the file directly into the Excel route planner.
- Now, match the column names of your sheet with the route planner’s default names. It helps you ensure only the desired data is imported.
- Then, click on “Done” and within a few seconds, the Excel route planner will import all the data.
4. Plan and optimize routes
- Now, to plan routes using the imported data, click on ”Next”.
- In the next step, you will have to choose the driver/s to assign to your planned route.
- Once you select the driver/s, tap on “Optimize and Assign Routes” to move further with the route optimization process.
- In just a few seconds, the route optimization software will optimize the route and give you the shortest route or fastest route.
- Route optimization
- One-click dispatch
- Proof of delivery
- API integration
- Reporting & analytics
- Quick customer support
Plan Routes Efficiently With a Robust Excel Route Planner: Upper
As seen above, planning delivery routes using Excel route planner brings a lot of convenience and ease of routing. There are many route optimization software available in the market that works as an Excel route planner and enables you to import Excel files to plan routes.
Among them, one of the top Excel route planners is Upper. This route planning solution is developed in a way that supports all sorts of delivery business and is customizable as per various business requirements.
The reason you should opt for Excel route planner is it is fast, dependable, and accurate. Upper empowers you to carry out data-driven route planning by incorporating multiple factors. Whether it’s time windows, traffic conditions, vehicle capacities, or priority stops, Upper’s advanced algorithms and functions handle it all.
Besides route planning, Upper has various other feature that makes it an all-in-one route management software such as:
Gone are the Days of Manual Calculations and Guesswork!
Import your Excel file directly into Upper and plan multi-stop routes in a breeze.Start Upper’s FREE Trial
How to Plan Routes Using Excel and Google Maps?
When it comes to route planning, the first thing that comes to our mind is Google Maps, as it is free and easy-to-use. Google Maps is a suitable route planner for small businesses requiring route planning.
You can use Google Maps and Excel in 2 ways: Enter stops manually into Google Maps or import the Excel spreadsheet directly into Google Maps.
The limitations with planning an entire route with Google Maps is it only allows you to add 10 stops at a time and does not optimize the stops, only plan them.
These limitations were solved when Google launched My Maps. It enables you to add more than 10 stops in a single route. Although, the other limitation, about route optimization, remains intact. To overcome this and start practicing route optimization for your business, you need to look out for Google Maps alternatives.
Now, let’s look at the steps to plan a route using Excel and Google Maps:
1. Export your spreadsheet: Save your spreadsheet as a CSV file. In Excel, choose File > Save As, enter a new file name, and select CSV as the file type. In Google Sheets, go to File > Download > Comma-separated values (.csv).
2. Upload the CSV file: Now, go to “My Maps”. Click the “Create a New Map”, name your map, and click “Import” in the top left corner.
3. Add the CSV file: Drag and drop the CSV file into the box that appears. You can also select the file from your computer by clicking on the “Select a file from your device” button.
4. Specify columns for stop addresses: After importing the file, you’ll be prompted to identify the columns in your spreadsheet that contain address information. Select the columns labeled ‘Address’ or choose all relevant columns if the address is split across multiple columns.
5. Include additional information for stop details: Google Maps will ask you to choose a column to use as the title for each stop. Select the column labeled ‘Name’ or an appropriate alternative like ‘Customer Name’. You can also include additional columns with information such as priorities, parcel location, driver notes, delivery time windows, etc.
6. Plot stops on the map: Once done, click “Finish”. All the addresses from your spreadsheet will be marked on the map.
7. Create routes: To get directions between the points on the map, click on a stop and then click the arrow icon at the bottom-right of the window.
8. Add more stops: The selected stop will appear on the left panel. To add more stops, click “Add Destination” and select the desired locations on the map until the entire route is plotted.
Another constraint while using Google Maps is you need manual intervention to verify and modify the stop sequence. This, at times, becomes hectic to manage. After all, Google Maps is merely a route planner and not a route optimization software. If your business requires the shortest route or fastest route, we suggest using the best route optimization software instead of Google Maps.
Excel route planner offers various benefits like data streamlining, time & fuel saving, and better resource allocation. Its customizable features give the ability to handle complex route planning scenarios, making it a versatile tool for businesses and individuals.
Yes, Excel route planner can accommodate multiple vehicles or fleet management scenarios. By incorporating vehicle-specific data, such as capacities, fuel efficiency, or driver schedules, you can optimize routes to assign stops to different vehicles while considering constraints like vehicle capacity, load balancing, and driver availability.
Not every Excel route planner is capable enough to provide visual representation of optimized routes. However there are some capable Excel route planners like Upper, that show you a detailed roadmap of optimized routes. Also, when started, they integrate with third-party navigation apps like Google Maps to give turn-by-turn navigation.
Efficiently planning routes is essential for businesses and individuals seeking to optimize their logistics and save valuable time and resources. Excel route planner offers a robust solution, harnessing the power of Microsoft Excel to streamline the route planning process.
By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can gather the necessary data, create an organized Excel sheet, sort the data according to your requirements, and leverage Excel’s built-in functions and formulas to optimize your routes.
Although, if you want to opt for an Excel route planner for your business, try Upper. Upper is an all-in-one route management platform having robust features like Excel route planning. Get a 30 days FREE TRIAL of Upper to start getting hands on it.