12 mins

Fuel Recovery Implementation Guide | Getting Started with Breakthrough

Matt Coopman


Matt Coopman
January 30, 2020


What Does it Take to Implement an Industry Leading Fuel Management Strategy?

You’ve received an in-depth fuel management analysis and discovered what a year of savings on Fuel Recovery could look like for your organization. You’re ready to move forward, but now you’re wondering – what happens after you say “yes”? Lucky for you, the Breakthrough team has worked through dozens of implementations for clients of every size, scope, and complexity.

To make new clients’ implementation experience as seamless as possible, we bear the brunt of the work so you don’t have to.

There are seven steps to facilitate a successful implementation:

Introductory Meeting

Kickoff Meeting

Weekly Implementation Calls

Carrier Communication


Establishing a New Normal

Continuous Improvement

Read below to find out how you can bring actionable change to your fuel reimbursement practices, or find out how Fuel Recovery is calculated here.

1. Introductory Meeting

Q: You've Said Yes to Breakthrough...Now What?

A: “Once you’ve said yes, a few things will happen immediately. Your Director of Business Development will begin working through the contract process with you and your team. They will also discuss your organization’s opportunity analysis as well as your current fuel surcharge (FSC) program parameters with your Breakthrough Client Account Manager (CAM) and Strategic Account Manager (SAM). This will ensure they are prepared to engage in a meaningful discussion with you during your upcoming implementation kick-off meeting.”

– Alex Byrne, Director of Business Development

Meet Your Breakthrough Team

During the introduction meeting, which typically occurs over the phone or video conference, your Director of Business Development will introduce you to your dedicated Breakthrough account managers and your Breakthrough IT Resource. Your CAM will become your day-to-day contact, facilitating communication throughout Breakthrough to make sure your implementation timeline is moving forward according to plan. During the implementation process, they’ll become familiar with the nuances of your system and the scope of your business.

Your SAM will work closely with your CAM and will focus on long-term, big-picture goals. After go-live, these Breakthrough team members will become an important part of developing future road-map initiatives for continuous improvements to your Fuel Recovery program.

Discuss Resources Needed From Your Organization

This meeting is also a great opportunity to align on the resources that Breakthrough needs from within your organization. We like to review this upfront so that:

  • We can give you an accurate picture of which roles are required from your team and the time commitment involved for each individual.

  • We can ensure the correct parties are in our first on-site meeting.

Your implementation team should include:

  • Project Sponsor: This person has minimal time requirements but will be crucial in advancing your strategy. The Project Sponsor makes strategic business decisions during the initial program design meeting and keeps a general awareness of key milestones throughout the process.

  • Project Lead: This only takes up 30-60 minutes per week. They handle day-to-day decisions and operational questions throughout implementation. This contact keeps the project on track both internally and with other transportation suppliers. They will also make judgment calls for when it is appropriate to get the project sponsor involved.

  • IT Lead: This is often a contact from your IT team and/or your TMS provider. They will work directly with the Breakthrough IT Lead to map out current and future connectivity and process flow and identify which data to exchange and when.

  • Testing Lead: This is often an internal party at your organization that will work closely with your TMS and Breakthrough IT Leads to send test files once connectivity is established.

  • Finance: One short meeting allows us to determine your current carrier payment processes and the requirements for reporting your savings metrics and service requirements from Breakthrough.

Deciding on Your Path to Implementation

Finally, during this meeting, we’ll discuss your path to implementation and align on timing. Your organization has 2 options:

  • Implement through an RFP: At your next RFP you will roll out your transition to Fuel Recovery to the incoming carrier base. Rather than negotiating contracts based on a fuel surcharge schedule, accurate fuel estimates are provided by lane. By making fuel a pass-through cost, it allows carriers to focus on their linehaul cost during the RFP process – knowing they will be made whole on fuel, regardless of market conditions. When contracts begin, they will automatically be reimbursed using the Fuel Recovery methodology for the duration of their contract.

  • Implement through a conversion: Instead of being time-bound by an RFP schedule, your organization would immediately negotiate existing contracts with carriers. Breakthrough helps you work through contract addendums to eliminate the use of your fuel surcharge schedule.

Both paths introduce market-based fuel reimbursements to your strategy, it all comes down to timing.

2. Kickoff Meeting

Once your path to implementation and timing is determined, your Breakthrough CAM and SAM team will schedule an on-site kickoff meeting. They’ll bring along the Breakthrough Technical Lead who is supporting your implementation and together they’ll help drive the conversation around a few main points within this meeting.

Determine Scope and Parameters

This meeting will act as a “workshop,” as we dive into all the details about your freight – which is why it is so helpful to make sure your implementation team mentioned above is present in this meeting. Not only will we talk about the MPG and base rate (link) at which you’ll set your truckload and intermodal programs, we’ll also discuss things like deadhead and out-of-route miles, which currencies to use and when, and where you house data for inbound, outbound, and interplant shipments.

Depending on the flow of conversation, we may leave you with some unanswered questions to discuss and follow-up on coming out of this meeting, but the goal is to begin the development of your roadmap for your program.

Establish the Data Exchange

Our Technical Lead will be on-site to begin talking through the shipment data exchange process. We like to understand what “current state” is like today before we begin working with your TMS. Our goal is to ensure that the exchange of data between your system and Breakthrough has minimal impact on your daily processes. Later we’ll collaborate with both your IT team and TMS provider to facilitate system integration while supporting you through testing, go-live, and hypercare.

Q: What Technology Requirements are Needed to Implement Fuel Recovery?

A: “Just hook us up, and we’ll do the rest! Lucky for you, everything from file cadence to TMS, and beyond is fully configurable! Our technology can communicate with any system currently being used by your organization. Breakthrough can connect via AS2, SFTP, and Web Services – we are flexible and want to use what’s best for you and your TMS provider.

Additionally, we accommodate diverse file configurations. We want to save you from having to use development time to conform to our data standards. Breakthrough translates your file format to meet our data requirements for a seamless information transfer. Our goal is for you to see a minimal change to your daily processes on the technology side.”

– Hannah Lehman, Director of Client Implementations

3. Weekly Implementation Calls - Let's Get Technical

Coming out of your kickoff meeting, we’ll want to get weekly implementation calls scheduled. This is where your Project Lead will want to bring in your TMS provider. Together, we’ll begin to hammer out the details surrounding your connection type and file transfer timing.

We’ll also continue to solidify parameters and determine freight that is in and out of scope. Often through this process, we learn about the intricacies of your network.

These 30-60-minute weekly calls will ensure that your implementation plan stays on track with your intended timeline.

4. Carrier Communication

Q: How is this Change Communicated to our Carrier Base?

A: “We see a lot of success when you roll out your new fuel strategy at a high level and then let Breakthrough take over. We train your carriers on the program and are happy to field questions throughout the entirety of the transition. We’re as involved in carrier conversations as you would like us to be.”

– Ellie Whitacre, Client Account Manager

Change Management with Fuel Recovery Suppliers

We know that communication with carriers is important for shippers, so we make it an ongoing process throughout implementation. This includes communication prior to the bid kicking off, a personal carrier training webinar, and continued support from Breakthrough for all fuel-related questions.

Breakthrough works with the majority of Transport Topics’ Top 100 Truckload Carriers, Top 20 Brokers, and Top 15 Intermodal providers. Additionally, Breakthrough clients make up 14 of the top 25 Shippers of Choice awards as reported by FreightWaves in 2019.  This is indicative of healthy carrier relationships with shippers using Fuel Recovery.

With the right approach, change management becomes less of a pain point. Most carriers understand Breakthrough’s value and Fuel Recovery ultimately brings accuracy and fairness to both sides of the shipper-carrier relationship. Clients who employ a data-based implementation and education plan see little pushback from carriers.

5. Go-Live

Once the technology is connected, systems have been tested, and all carriers have been communicated with – you’re ready for go-live. The Breakthrough team will monitor the system, communicating with your organization regularly through a period of hypercare after we turn your program “on.”

Q: From Start to Finish, How Long Does the Implementation Process Take?

A: “The Breakthrough team can be flexible on speed. We will get you to full implementation as fast as you need to – in fact we’ve implemented clients in as little as three weeks, but the average is closer to 2-3 months depending on your system and goals. It is completely dependent on how quickly your team can move.”

– Luke Potts, Implementation Technical Lead

6. Establishing the New Normal

Q: When do we Start Seeing Savings?

A: “Once your program goes live, savings start on the first movement, on the first day. Clients have recouped their implementation costs in as little as a few days – depending on the scope and volume of their transportation network. After coming onto Breakthrough Fuel Recovery, we will proactively present you with opportunities to reduce the cost, consumption, and emissions within your transportation supply chain.” – Danielle Grant, Client Account Manager

Watch a success story illustrating how one client recouped their ROI in 12 weeks >

Once hypercare is complete and all systems are functioning as expected, you’ll transition to what we like to refer to as the “New Normal.” Ultimately, this means you’ve officially ditched the DOE and are now reimbursing your carriers using a market-based approach that updates daily reflecting fluctuations in the marketplace. Your TMS and carriers receive seamless communication from Breakthrough and the payment process is executed accurately. Now you can turn your sights onto what is next.

You’ll continue to stay in close contact with your Client Account Manager through weekly reporting tools and with any on-the-spot questions you may have. Your CAM will also continue to assist with any fuel-related inquiries from your carriers. They’ll use this experience and relationship to hone your program and the service we provide so that your Strategic Account Manager can best direct your strategy.

7.Continuous Improvement

Q: What do we have to Look Forward to as a Breakthrough Client After Go-Live?

A: “As a client, you can look forward to a team determined to dive into your robust reporting every day to make your strategy better. One of the biggest benefits of a Breakthrough relationship is that you get to let us think about fuel while you prioritize elsewhere. Additionally, we have a passion for innovation, and as a client, we invite you to come along with us as we continue to drive forward what’s next.”

– Jared Spude, Strategic Account Manager

Once your Fuel Recovery program is operational, your CAM and SAM team will provide you with an extensive list of initiatives that you can employ for continuous improvement– and potential savings opportunities. Common projects that first-year clients tend to prioritize are:

Breakthrough also offers a suite of fuel and freight management solutions beyond Fuel Recovery, including our network intelligence services, custom fuel price forecasts, Global Fuel Management, Marine Fuel Management, and a Fuel Budget Certainty solution. You have the ability to dynamically manage the full scope of the freight and energy within your supply chain.

Every year at our annual conference, The Mercury Group, we convene our brightest shippers under one roof to discuss what is next for the industry, for Breakthrough, and in each of your individual strategies. This yearly experience is exclusive to Breakthrough clients because we know that there is power in collaboration. Our clients gather to share their own experiences related to challenges and successes across the industry and to insightfully leverage shared experiences.

Fuel Recovery is just the beginning, and clients realize continuous improvement year over year as their relationship with Breakthrough deepens. The more data we process, the more opportunity we can uncover.

For more information about Fuel Recovery or any other Breakthrough services, Contact us!

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