Top 7 Things to Consider in a Fleet Management Solution

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Posted Nov 9, 2017 7:00:00 AM by Ryan Foust & filed under fleet management

So you’re ready to bring on a fleet management system? Logistics is getting more complex, which can simply make it costlier or more responsive to being used as a strategic advantage. The right fleet management solution will steer you to the right track.

1. Helps you achieve your fleet management goals

This seems obvious, but it’s easy to overlook. Fleet management systems come in a lot of sizes, many with a lot of bells and whistles. The technology to capture and deliver real-time data about your trucks and drivers, where they are and what they’ve done is vast. It’s easy to get distracted by shiny object syndrome.

Before you even start looking at any specific fleet management solutions, clarify what your business reasons and goals are for improving your fleet management. Do you want your vehicles to last longer? Do you want to bring down fuel costs? Do you need more efficient routing so you can minimize downtime? The efficiency and customer service opportunities available from the smart use of the right fleet management system are considerable.

Once you’ve identified what your business goals are, get specific about what data you’ll need in order to track and report on how you’re doing. This step will clarify what functions, data capture, and reporting you’ll need your chosen system to provide.

Now that you have your business goals, functions and data requirements – don’t deviate when you see a system that only offers a part of what you need despite how nice it looks. Don’t do it. Stay strong.

2. Not a shiny object: ELD compliance

The Supreme Court of the United States recently declined to hear the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) appeal of its lawsuit challenging the USDOT rule requiring carriers to install compliant electronic logging devices (ELD) on all their vehicles by December 18, 2017 deadline. That means the lower court ruling that upheld the rule remains the law of the land.

Whatever system you select, use of ELD devices is no longer optional.

3. Includes robust mobile capabilities

It seems almost silly, but there are fleet tracking systems that come with mobile apps. All your people are mobile, right? The fleet managers may not be driving anymore, but how often are they sitting at a desk? When you’re putting together your list of business goals, functions and data, note the priorities and ones most needed at any time. The system you choose should have mobile apps, be compatible with the devices you need, and provide the necessary functions and data captures.

4. Integration options

When you documented your business goals for buying a fleet management solution, you probably noticed that managing and achieving some goals will be easier if it integrates with certain systems you already have. If you want to better manage drivers and labor costs, ideally it should integrate with payroll or some HR systems. Should it also integrate with finance and accounting systems, or inventory? Other common advantageous integrations include sharing data with maintenance and CRM systems.

Some systems will have pre-built integrations, which is a great advantage if they’re the ones you need. If not, look at how often they add new integrations and ask where your priority systems are on their development list. Some software vendors will have built entry points into their system that you can use to develop (or hire someone to develop) your own custom integrations.

5. Will it grow with your business?

Is the system scalable? Maybe you have a 20-truck fleet today, but expect to have 2,000 in five years? Perhaps your fleet is made up entirely of one truck size, but you'll be adding smaller trucks in the future to respond to last mile optimization efforts?

Also look into how a vendor plans its development to add new functions and capabilities, and data points. Your business goals of today may change next year and you want a solution vendor that’s flexible enough to meet them when they do.

A good first place to look is how the software got to its current state, which can give some clues. For example, if new functionality hasn't appeared in a couple of years, that vendor may not be as responsive to your future needs.

On the other hand, if they’re constantly rolling out major upgrades multiple times a year, you have to consider other issues: Will you have to accept each new, major upgrade? How does that impact licensing fees, or interrupt operations or integrations

6. How will your employees and drivers like it?

Poor user adoption of a new system is a key driver of system failure. The first part of ensuring strong user adoption rates comes from the overall user interface and the type of experience the system provides. Based on our personal experiences with consumer apps, we all have come to expect a good-looking app design, and an easy, intuitive user experience in our business apps as well. When you have a short list, run some demos in front of a representative group of future users to get their feedback.

The second part of ensuring strong user adoption rates is having a smart installation, training and roll out plan. Ask potential vendors about their training options and installation support. Talk to some of their other clients to hear their rollout and training experiences.

7. Strong customer service

It’s what we all want, right? Your customers want it from you. To keep your customer service levels high, you need to make sure your fleet management system vendor provides it to you. This ranges from their technical support, its scope, quality, and responsiveness, as well as the support they provide in training and optimizing use of their system.

Improve Efficiency While Cutting Costs

A fleet management solution can improve operational efficiency while bringing down costs, which makes implementing the right system for your business so critical. Doing the groundwork to make the right choice is worth it. Let DecisionPoint help make your selection process easier, contact us today.

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