Source:  Sooraj Shah  

A guide to the best vehicle tracking service for your fleet

According to research analyst Gartner, the fleet management industry was worth $16bn in 2017 and expected to continue to grow. It is therefore not a surprise that so many businesses are on the hunt for fleet management software. However, fleet managers and other senior executives may question if there is a need for fleet management software, and if there is, then how they should determine which software meets their fleet management needs.

In this article, we aim to help businesses to answer these questions, provide some details around the different types of fleet management buyers, and conclude with a checklist of questions that a fleet manager can answer to determine which features they require.

Purpose of fleet management software

We have covered this topic in more depth here, but to summarize, fleet management is the organization and administration involved in coordinating business vehicles. By managing the fleet, companies can control the entire lifecycle of the fleet, and ultimately help them to improve efficiency, reduce costs, increase productivity, reduce risks, and ensure compliance with government regulations.

Fleet managers are there to manage many of the responsibilities, including keeping track of fuel consumption, managing drivers, health and safety requirements, route planning, vehicle acquisition and maintenance. Even with the help of a team, this is a tall order for one person, and this is why software is often needed to assist managers and enhance their ability to benefit from a fleet management strategy.

What kinds of companies buy fleet management software?

Work vehicles are a huge part of the economy and are used in almost every industry. Companies with fleets include haulers, couriers, sales, repair and service industries, utilities, public transport, oil and gas delivery, and emergency services. Vehicles are not limited to those on land—fleet management technology can also be used on vessels, aircrafts and on rail cars.

Here are some examples of the types of industries that use fleet management software and where they come from:

For instance, plumbing, construction and garden services can use GPS fleet tracking, which is one feature of software that can help a manager to understand where staff are and when to dispatch staff.

Local government

Councils, states and cities could use telematics and GPS tracking to reduce fuel costs as they bid to lower their CO2 emissions. By being able to track their drivers, they could ensure that average speed was reduced and that harsh braking stops; driving more economically, efficiently and safely would effectively reduce fuel consumption, servicing and maintenance costs and reduce the number of accidents.

Oil & gas

Oil distributing companies may want to implement a fleet management solution where they can track their petroleum and oil tankers, as well as monitoring there driver’s behavior effectively. If there are any issues with the vehicle or if a driver is speeding, braking harshly, driving aggressively or idling for too long, the fleet manager can get an alert. This is very important in the oil and gas industry where safety is paramount. In case of emergencies, the driver may even be provided with a panic button that can alert the fleet manager in real-time.

Service and repairs

Company-owned vehicles are often used for services and repair personnel. A fleet management solution can ensure that the driver is using the most economical route, which would reduce fuel consumption and save costs. In addition, a combination of telematics and integration with third-party software can help a company to review stock, check road conditions, and monitor a driver’s location in real-time to ensure the closest person with the relevant experience is dispatched.

Emergency services

Optimizing the use of emergency services vehicles is crucial to giving providers better control over their fleet. Knowing where vehicles are can help emergency services to deploy the right people to the scene in the fastest possible time. In addition, telematics can help to ensure that the car is meeting due diligence standards, and that the vehicle is safely driven for patients, staff and the public, taking into account other road users and pedestrians. This kind of data can help the emergency services to improve the service they provide as well as making it safer.

Construction

Construction managers need to ensure that all of their vehicles and equipment are in the right condition – for both productivity and safety. GPS tracking can help to monitor behavior that could damage vehicles, including harsh breaking or acceleration. In addition, maintenance alerts can be set at certain milestones – whether it is by time or mileage – and this can help managers to stay on top of servicing. As construction vehicles are often attractive for thieves, alerts can be turned on to ensure the fleet manager knows if a vehicle has started at an unauthorized time, or if it has veered off course from its intended destination. If any vehicles do get lost, GPS location data can help to find them.

Distribution

Fleet management software can be helpful for huge global businesses and smaller courier companies when it comes to delivering parcels. Fleet managers are able to find the best routes for their vehicle and update the route that drivers should take. GPS tracking can help managers to monitor their driver behavior, which can ultimately save them costs on maintenance and repair, but also on fuel consumption; if a driver is excessively idling and speeding, the company can put a stop to it before the car is damaged and before costs spiral out of control.

Does your business need fleet management software?

Some of the benefits for specific industries have been outlined above – and ultimately these are generally solutions to many of the difficulties that fleet managers have. As organizations have scaled up, many of these issues need attention more swiftly.

These include:

  • Many administrative duties such as quoting, invoicing, identifying and dispatching drivers, expense management and keeping customers informed have been complicated, and decentralized, but fleet management can help to simplify or automate many of these tasks.
  • Fuel management has been a huge challenge. The software enables managers to track fuel consumption, check vehicles and drivers when there are cases of fuel overuse and monitor driver behavior. By doing so, fleet managers can manage fuel fare more effectively. For instance, by analyzing driver behavior, managers can get insight into idle times which may be contributing to a large expense on fuel.
  • Expensive maintenance costs. Fleet management software can come equipped with workflow automation software, offering managers regular service and maintenance reminders based on factors such as date, mileage or time of use. By monitoring maintenance scheduling, managers can act before a vehicle shows signs of malfunction.
  • Lack of coherent communication. Fleet management software provides simplification of the way drivers are managed in the field with an application to communicate with them through messages and orders. In addition, vehicles can feed back updates in regards to the order and the estimated time of arrival.
  • Keeping up to date with regulations and compliance. As all of the information is kept up to date and notifications on expiry dates can be used, it is far easier to stay compliant.

Checklist of questions to ask yourself before you buy fleet management software

While it is easy to know whether you need fleet management software or not, the decision of which provider to go for is more complicated. Much will depend on the features and the type of partnership a vendor can provide.

Here are some questions that you need to answer yourself to know if you require specific features:

Do you need more visibility over fuel costs or are you spending too much on fuel?

If yes, fuel management can be achieved with a number of features including:

  • A specific fuel management application that tracks fuel costs and individual transactions
  • GPS tracking to help monitor driver behavior

Do you need a comprehensive way to manage everything to do with your fleet?

If yes, then it is worth ensuring that the fleet management product you buy either has all of the capabilities required through its own different apps or integrates with other software providers seamlessly, so that payments, route-optimization and HR tasks can all be carried out.

Do you want your fleet manager to play a bigger role in the company? If yes, then fleet managers to become a more strategic part of the overall business, if they have the tools that can help with budget and forecasting, sustainability efforts, and management of big changes (such as the pandemic lockdown).

Do you need the software to be accessible for drivers too?

Data is a two-way journey, while many sources of data will be able to be sent through GPS tracking. Other data may need to be inputted by the driver, including accepting a new job or completing a job – they’ll therefore require a mobile app. In addition drivers may want to access data about a certain job while they’re on the go. Some providers will also provide a chat facility within their fleet management app, so that communication can be improved.

Do you need better management of maintenance costs?

Workflow automation software needs to be a part of the fleet management proposition if you do, while GPS tracking, and the ability to set notifications are other features that can help to better manage maintenance costs.