By Megan R. Nichols
A company that wants to get the most out of their vehicles will want to implement digital tools that can track their fleet.
Fleet management software can assist businesses in optimizing every aspect of their fleet — allowing them to better manage fuel spend, optimize route management and reduce harsh driving. However, not every piece of management software is the same. Businesses wanting to implement these tools will need to evaluate their options carefully. Otherwise, they can easily find themselves with a piece of technology that's not a good fit.
Here's how you can choose the right fleet management software for your organization.
Key Fleet Management Software Features
The features offered by fleet management software vary from tool to tool.
Some software allows your business to track unsafe driving events like harsh braking and acceleration, as well as time spent idling. Typically, these systems also provide immediate notifications of speeding and other driver safety-related metrics that can allow you to coach and train operators. According to one report, companies that implemented fleet management solutions saw a 38 percent increase in miles between harsh driving alerts within two months.
Preventative maintenance features can help a company keep better track of vehicle health and schedule maintenance in a way that reduces downtime. Route optimization features examine the current courses that vehicles take and find more efficient options. Some tools may also be able to make actionable recommendations, such as adopting a no left turn policy. This analysis can help your business cut back on excessive driving, which can reduce both fuel costs and vehicle wear-and-tear.
More advanced solutions can offer route management, which helps businesses plan their overall travel strategy in the most efficient way possible. Fleet management software also helps your business track fuel use, allowing you to better estimate precisely how much gas each driver and vehicle use. Reducing fuel spend is one of the best ways for a company to cut down the overall fleet and operational costs.
Some tools are designed with APIs or for integration with other software. As a result, the program will be able to "talk" with other platforms — such as, for example, a CRM, package-tracking tool or IoT solution. This feature is excellent in situations where a business already has robust technology in place and wants any new technology to integrate seamlessly.
Strategies For Selecting And Implementing Fleet Management Software
When looking for a potential fleet management tool, start with a clear, measurable goal in mind. This objective should be in line with your business's overall strategy and informed by the needs of drivers and staff. For example, you may want to reduce incidences of harsh driving or your fleet's total fuel spend.
Having a specific goal will help you cut down on the number of fleet management software options you can choose from, giving you a better sense of those that will be the best fit. Once you implement the software, this goal also will provide you with feedback on whether or not the tool helps your team improve.
You should also keep in mind any special rules or regulations that your business or organization needs to follow. Certain fleet management software will include features that will help your organization follow these regulations.
Several cities around the country, for example, have passed anti-idling laws that punish companies whose drivers leave vehicles running. Some fleet management systems include features that detect and prevent idling. A company that operates in a city with these laws should consider software that has these idling prevention features.
If your company's drivers are bound by Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, you also will want a solution that includes HOS tracking features. This will ensure your drivers aren't working more hours than are permitted.
Consider Fleet Management System Scalability And Ease Of Use
Fleet management programs rely on compliance by drivers, who need to keep track of valuable information and ensure systems work correctly. Once the software records the data, staff who may not have experience working with fleet management tools will analyze it. For this reason, ease of use will be essential. If possible, confirm that your vendor offers training or, at the very least, publishes robust documentation and educational materials that your company can use to prepare staff. Your team should be knowledgeable about how to use any new technology before implementation.
While fleet management technology is sometimes associated with larger fleets, these solutions can manage operations of all sizes. However, not all solutions are designed to scale up with a company as it grows. Some platforms will work best when managing smaller fleets and may struggle as the number of sensors on vehicles rises and the amount of data being processed increases.
Before selecting a fleet management tool, consider how scalable the software is. You'll want to plan for the solution to grow with your organization. If a given technology works best for smaller fleets or requires a different license or subscription as tracked vehicles increases, it may not be the best possible investment.
While you can switch to another fleet management software down the line as the needs of your company change, it can be a complicated process that may require retraining drivers. During the switch-over, you may also lose out on critical vehicle information.
Strategies For Selecting The Right Fleet Management Software
With the right tool, it's possible to optimize your company's vehicles. Fleet management software can track and offer advice on issues like fuel spend, harsh driving, route optimization, vehicle maintenance and much more. However, not every tool will be the right fit for your business.
If you want to implement a fleet management tool at your organization, start with a clear, actionable goal in mind. Perhaps you want to reduce spending on gasoline or increase driver safety. Look for a solution that provides features to help you realize this objective. If possible, work with a vendor who can offer direct training or materials that help your staff learn to use the new technology.
About The Author
Megan R. Nichols is an industrial writer for sites like Thomas and IoT Evolution World. Megan also publishes easy to understand manufacturing articles on her blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by subscribing to her blog.