How the Right Fleet Management Software Solution can Improve the Tracking, Maintaining, and Analysing of Your Overall Fleet Operations

Equipped with features to improve driver and vehicle tracking, fuel management and vehicle maintenance, fleet management software aims to enhance your overall fleet operations.

Whether you’re a manager responsible for a small fleet of cars and vans, or a director in charge of a large HGV truck fleet, implementing a fleet management software can be essential for all types and sizes of businesses. In this buyers guide, we’ve highlighted four key points to help you enhance your fleet performance with an overall aim of reducing operational costs and risks.

4 Steps to Finding the Right Fleet Management Software

  1. Identify and understand the need for a fleet management software solution

  2. Recognise the different types of fleet management software buyers

  3. Scan the marketplace for features needed to deliver your fleet management and maintenance goals

  4. Evaluate and compare your fleet management software options using our 5-step considerations checklist

1. Identify and understand the need for a fleet management software solution

Whether you’re implementing a fleet management software solution for the first time or replacing an outdated vehicle management tool, you’re here because you want to elevate and revolutionise your overall fleet operations.

Why do companies choose to implement Fleet Management Software?

Fleet management tools aren’t just designed for larger organisations with a vast amount of fleet vehicles and drivers. In fact, these tools can be incorporated into all different types of companies, such as small businesses with a pool of five vehicles, to enterprises with thousands of cars, vans and trucks.

No matter what the size of your business or your fleet operations, the benefits offered by installing a fleet management solution are still the same. These include:

  • Reduced vehicle downtime with proactive maintenance schedules

  • Fewer maintenance costs

  • Reduced running costs such as fuel

  • Improved safety of your vehicles and drivers

Identify the gaps and challenges in your current fleet processes

Managing a pool of five to ten vehicles is not difficult for an experienced fleet manager. But, when that fleet consists of thousands of vehicles, maintaining your business’ entire fleet operation can quickly become overwhelming. Coupled with the fear of not knowing if your investment in acquiring and monitoring your vehicles is actually paying off, gaps will start to appear in your operations.

Before you begin to highlight what you want to achieve with fleet management software, it’s first important to understand the gaps in your current processes. For example, may encounter challenges, such as:

  • Compliance with strict transport regulations

  • Poor fuel management

  • Downtime of business-critical vehicles due to unscheduled vehicle maintenance

  • An overload of vehicle and driver data

And that’s not to mention the running costs that your fleet will incur. Without a fleet management solution, you’ll begin to lose track of what you’re spending on your vehicles and fail to grasp a true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

The typical costs of operating a fleet

Luckily, that’s where a fleet management tool can help. In its simplest form, fleet management software is a solution designed to help fleet managers and business owners effectively track, maintain, analyse and manage all vehicle and driver data in one place; with a purpose to control vehicle life-cycles, reduce associated risks, enhance productivity, and increase efficiency.

The right fleet management tool will help you improve the management of:

  • Vehicles, drivers and assets

  • Fuel and other running costs

  • Insurance claims

  • Legal and regulatory compliance

  • Maintenance, repairs and services

  • Driver behaviour to ensure safer driving among operators

2. Recognise the different types of fleet management software buyers

As well as being available for all levels of business, a fleet management solution can also be implemented into various types of industries and market sectors. Such as local delivery services, public services, private shipping, public transport and taxi firms. These, and many more, can all benefit from effective management of their fleets.

The process of recognising the type of buyer you are is an important step in your journey to finding the right fleet management tool. Not only will it allow you to find a tool and vendor that best fits your industry, but it will also highlight the features needed to match your core requirements and achieve your management and maintenance goals.

Top Tip: When choosing fleet management software, keep in mind that the right tool for you may not necessarily be the best one available on the market. It’s important to select a tool because it matches your goals, not because it was featured in a top 10 list of best fleet management and maintenance solutions.

Below are four examples of fleet management software buyers. You’ll notice that each buyer has a different set of goals for their fleet operations and thus require a solution that offers the right features to match their requirements.

1. Logistics, Third-party Logistic (3PL) Firms and Courier Services

Implementing fleet management software into logistics and delivery organisations can be beneficial in a number of ways, including:

  • The ability to track deliveries in real-time from the warehouse to final destination

  • Providing the most efficient and time-saving way to load cargo onto vehicles

  • Mapping out routes that determine the shortest and most efficient journey

  • Minimising operating expenses such as fuel costs

When choosing the right tool, you’ll also want to prioritise particular features that will appeal more to the operations of a logistics and delivery firm, such as:

  • Delivery scheduling and dispatch management

  • Load optimisation

  • GPS tracking

  • Route planning

  • Fuel management

Being an instrumental link within a client’s supply chain, logistics and 3PL firms require a vast majority of features that can be provided by a fleet management tool. This especially applies for operating within industries such as retail and e-commerce, where you’re responsible for not only receiving the goods but shipping them directly to customers, too.

2. Public and Emergency Fleet Services

With a vast range of services, managing government fleet operations can require a tool packed full of different capabilities. Ideally, you’ll want to look for features that help to:

  • Track vehicle maintenance.

    Particularly useful for bus and train services, being able to track and collect a vehicle’s maintenance and service data can lead to less downtime and help create a regular repair schedule.

  • Track real-time locations.

    Using GPS and telematics technology, not only are you able to track the location of your fleet but so can the public. Using mobile devices and apps, users can see precise schedule times and be made aware of any delays.

  • Use GEO-fence restrictions.

    Being able to apply a GEO-fence restriction allows bus operators to stay on route and waste disposal vehicles to stick within their district. This lets operations run as smoothly and efficiently as possible while improving time-management.

  • Plan the most efficient route.

    This applies significantly to law enforcement and emergency services, as each fleet will want to avoid factors such as traffic. By knowing the route with the least amount of traffic lights and congestion, ambulances and police vehicles are able to arrive at their destination on time.

  • Optimise a vehicle’s load.

    By collecting the right data, you’ll be able to know how much cargo each fleet vehicle can accommodate. In terms of police vehicles, load optimisation allows essential equipment such as speed guns, Tasers, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers to be efficiently allocated.

3. Construction and Industrial Fleet Operations

Fleet managers operating in a large-scale construction organisation will require some form of a management tool to improve and ease the overall workflow. A fleet management system can help to:

  • Track vehicles and drivers across multiple sites.

    By tracking and collecting significant data, you’re able to ensure the right vehicle, driver, or operator is at the right site at the right time. This minimises idle time and improves the workflow of operations throughout the company.

  • Avoid downtime of work-critical vehicles with regular maintenance.

    By having a scheduled maintenance plan for an on-site crane or digger, managers can gain a better understanding of each vehicle. They are able to know how long each vehicle is unavailable and also understand the lifespan of a vehicle and its parts, such as when the hydraulics need replacing or repairing on a backhoe loader.

  • Track fleet deliveries between sites.

    By using GPS and route planning features, you’re able to track delivery vehicles in real-time. For example, a delivery may be scheduled to move tools and equipment from one site to another. The manager of the receiving site will want to track the delivery fleet and make sure it arrives as scheduled.

  • Stay on top of health and safety regulations.

    With a fleet management tool, you’re able to collect data about each vehicle’s service checks and maintenance updates. This allows you to make sure each vehicle in your fleet adheres to health and safety regulations. You can also check important data, such as a vehicle’s load capacity, and make it accessible to your operators before they begin a job.

4. Food and Beverage Delivery Services

As a manager of a food and beverage company, effective management of your fleet can be critical for maintaining good customer satisfaction levels and reducing operational costs. These targets can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • Giving scheduled delivery slots by the hour.

    With a delivery schedule system, you’re able to ensure that deliveries will arrive within the given time slot. This can apply to large organisations that have a strict hourly delivery schedule, such as food supermarkets, or even local pizza delivery chains that promise delivery within thirty minutes.

  • Planning the quickest routes.

    In terms of the food takeaway industry, providing the quickest delivery possible is a priority. This is to make sure that the food is kept at an optimal level for consumption, from the kitchen to the customer’s door. Using a GPS tracker and real-time location, not only can you map out the best route for your driver, but you can also identify any idle time during delivery and eliminate it for the next delivery. Idle time can be damaging to a fleet’s bottom line, but – in a 2014 truck fleet survey – reducing the time a vehicle sits idle by 25% can save $1,425 per vehicle each year.

    Fleet management software can help reduce vehicle idle time in fleets

  • Load optimisation.

    In terms of a supermarket delivery, the first scheduled delivery on the route will need to be the most accessible. A fleet management tool will provide data that allows you to store cargo in the most efficient manner. This also means ensuring the entire cargo of the delivery route is able to be stored in the vehicle. Otherwise, the driver may have to make an unscheduled trip back to the warehouse, increasing fuel costs and incurring delays.

3. Scan the marketplace for features needed to deliver your fleet management and maintenance goals

Coupled together with tools for vehicle maintenance and fuel management, a fleet management tool provides a number of key features for all types of organisations. But, as well as identifying the right fleet management solution for your industry, picking a solution with the right features is essential.

Not only do you need to recognise the features needed to close the gaps in your current processes, but you also need to highlight the core requirements that you expect from your chosen product.

An effective way to do this is to create two groups: Essential features and Non-essential features:

Essential features: These consist of core requirements that are needed to help reach your management and maintenance goals.

Non-essential features: These are features that would be nice to have and that may improve your fleet operations in the future.

Having an understanding of essential features and non-essential allows for a more focused approach when it comes to shortlisting and evaluating your fleet management software options.

Top Tip: Try to keep your essential features to a minimum. By having fewer core requirements, it allows you to shortlist more vendors and products in a bid to finding the best fit.

As you begin your search, you’ll notice that fleet software vendors offer tools with different variations of features. For example, some products may focus entirely on the real-time tracking of vehicles, whereas others focus more on correcting driver behaviour through telematics.

Although all features are designed with improving your entire fleet operations in mind, it’s important to know the features that are better suited to your own goals. For example, here’re seven of the most valuable fleet management software features that may match your essential requirements:

Here’re seven most valuable features that can be found in modern fleet solutions:

1. Route Planning

As an essential part of a fleet management tool, route planning is used to determine the shortest and most fuel-efficient route. Effective route planning can be used to plan a round-trip, such as a courier service’s delivery route or a one-way journey. Either way, its purpose is to help save on fuel costs and minimise vehicle wear and tear by reducing the number of miles a fleet needs to travel. There are many factors that determine a strategy for choosing the most efficient route, including:

  • Vehicle capacity

  • Road traffic

  • Drop points

  • Delivery windows

Once the most efficient route has been planned, it can then be dispatched to a driver. If the driver attempts to alter this proposed route, you can override their decision and make sure they stick to the plan.

2. GPS Tracking and Telematics

Among many other benefits, the use of GPS tracking and telematics is essential to help visually monitor where vehicles and drivers are in real-time.

Fleet telematics can be used with most fleet management tools

Prior to this technology, most fleet operations would rely on word-of-mouth regarding a driver’s location and if a vehicle had arrived at its destination on time. With GPS, you’re able to:

  • Track and locate fleet vehicles

  • Optimise routes for deliveries

  • Reduce operational costs such as fuel

  • Understand if a vehicle is idle for an excessive amount of time

  • Track unauthorised movement and any derailing from a planned route

  • Highlight GEO-fences and get alerts when a vehicle has breached that area

  • Understand driver behaviour to apply safety measures

3. Load Optimisation

The creation of an efficient route plan is only possible once other factors have been considered, such as load optimisation. By collecting data on factors such as weight, volume and dimensions, you are able to create an effective loading plan for each vehicle. This also helps to improve time management by knowing the exact load time of cargo.

A good example of a business optimising its fleet’s load is a courier service. The cargo stored in a vehicle will need to be stacked in order of the planned route. An item that is being delivered at the first stop of a driver’s route will need to be stacked in the most accessible way, and so on.

4. Total Cost of Ownership and Spend Tracking

Tracking and collecting essential data with a fleet management tool is a great way of knowing the exact expenditure of fleet operations. Not only can you see the depreciation of value for each vehicle, but you can also start to evaluate the difference in cost between owning and leasing fleet assets. For example, you may realise that it is cheaper for your business to own a fleet instead of leasing one.

As well as this, you can also track costs such as:

  • Parking violations and fines

  • Vehicle servicing and MOTs

  • Fuel costs and the use of fuel cards

  • Repairs and maintenance

  • Road tax and insurance fees

5. Service and Maintenance Alerts

Whether you’re in charge of thousands of vehicles or a small fleet of vans and cars, making sure each vehicle is properly serviced is crucial for developing an effective maintenance schedule. Having a maintenance system in place can dramatically reduce vehicle downtime. It can be so effective, that in 2017, Royal Mail improved the downtime of their 50,000 vehicle fleet by 26%.

With fleet management software Royal Mail reduced vehicle downtime by 26%

You are also able to collect service and maintenance data of all of your vehicles and store it in a centralised system. This allows stakeholders to see and be automatically notified when a vehicle’s insurance policy or warranty is about to expire.

6. Employee Management and Driver Behaviour

By implementing a system that can effectively track vehicles, you’re also able to gather data regarding your drivers. This can be average speeds, harsh acceleration reports, idling periods, and speeding violations. By collecting this data, you can take the necessary precautions to eradicate risky driver habits and encourage safe driving through feedback and coaching tools. This reduces any risk of vehicle accidents that can be costly to business operations. With employee management in place, you can also:

  • Track and manage employee schedules, availability and performance

  • Generate reports on each fleet operator and drivers

  • Track and store driver fines such as parking and speeding tickets

  • Use Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled technology, such as NFC, to identify drivers using multi-driver vehicles

7. Fuel Management

A useful feature for reducing costs from a fleets bottom line is fuel management. This is used to monitor excessive fuel burn and idling, while also highlighting the vehicles that are consuming more fuel than others.

An effective fuel management tool can send out instant alerts and notifications, too. This lets you see how much fuel is being used and when a company fuel card has been activated. You can also collect driver receipts and mileage data to cross-check any false claims that may be issued.

4. Evaluate and compare your fleet management software options using our 5-step considerations checklist

Once you’ve highlighted the need for a management system, it’s time to choose the right tool. But, before doing so, there are some things that you may want to consider. Here, we’ve listed the five most common considerations to make before purchasing a fleet management software solution:

1. Can this tool track and monitor fleet assets as well as vehicles and drivers?

As well as providing features to manage vehicles and drivers, you may also need to monitor other fleet assets. These can include trailers, boats, machinery and heavy equipment. You can also collect data on fleet accessories such as dash-cams and CB radios. With these capabilities, you’ll be able to create maintenance schedules for all of your fleet equipment as well as log services and track expenses.

2. Does the software require you to purchase additional hardware?

Although the features of a fleet management tool match your operational needs, they may also require additional hardware. For example, specific vehicle and GPS trackers can collect data such as average speeds and idle times to plan the most efficient route. GPS tags can also monitor vehicles in real-time and provide stakeholders with an exact location and scheduled delivery times. Another example is a dashcam; these are installed to help with insurance claims and to be used as evidence in case of an accident.

3. Is the system scalable and future proof for Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)?

In the coming years, fleet managers will be expected to swap their mechanical fleet for Autonomous Vehicles (AVs). This can be beneficial in areas such as lower fuel consumption, increased productivity, and fewer accidents. But AVs can also provide challenges, such as higher insurance premiums and maintenance costs.

Another problem that vendors may face with AVs is the amount of data storage needed. They will collect a lot more data such as locations, soundings, routes and systems. As a reference to this, Google’s self-driving cars will collect nearly 1GB of data every second. This amount of data collection could prove tough for some vendors to store. In this case, it’s important to know their costs and limits on future data storage.

4. Is the vendor experienced and knowledgeable in fleet management?

Understanding a vendor’s experience and customer history is a good indication of how reliable their product is. You can also see what training and support they offer, either in the form of hands-on or video demonstrations. Another way to identify a vendor’s expertise is to ask about knowledge of fleet compliance certificates, such as:

  • DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) and FORS (Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme)

  • If they operate within UK and EU laws for cross-Europe travel

  • Experience in HGV operating licenses and the Van Excellence scheme

5. Can you access a free trial or demo before purchasing?

A great way to know if a system best suits your business is to ask for a demo or sign up to a free trial. You’re then able to gauge certain aspects of the tool and ask questions, such as:

  • Is it easy to use?

    By demoing the software, you are able to identify if it has a clean and functional user interface and if the workflow process is easy to understand and operate. You can then test and try all that the tool has to offer and begin to understand how compatible it will be with you and your team.

  • Does it feel familiar?

    Having a sense of familiarity is very under-rated when choosing the right tool. For example, if you have always input fleet data into spreadsheets, a tool with a familiar spreadsheet-type layout may seem more functional and appealing.

  • Does it offer the features I need?

    At first glance, you may think a tool has the right features and capabilities to help run your fleet operations. But it’s worth checking that these features offer exactly what you require in terms of data collected and workflow.

  • How easy is it to access?

    This doesn’t just refer to the accessibility of the tool on mobile devices and desktops, but also to your workforce. You may need employees to access vehicle maintenance data or GEO-fence information, so make sure the tool offers both staff access and restrictions to your fleet’s data.

Experts Guides to Fleet Management Software

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How to Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs with Effective Vehicle and Driver Management

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4 Uses of Fleet Telematics to Improve Vehicle Maintenance and Management

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How GPS Fleet Tracking Can Improve Fleet Management

Frequently Asked Questions About Fleet Management Software

1. I am a small business owner with a small vehicle fleet of cars and vans – is fleet management software right for me?

Managing and maintaining the operations of a small fleet of cars and vans is just one of many jobs for a small business owner. With little-to-none fleet management experience, the running and upkeep of your small vehicle fleet can easily be forgotten when focusing on other areas in your business. But, that doesn’t make fleet management any less important.

Managing vehicles and drivers is a huge responsibly for any business, big or small. It allows you to focus on the health and safety of your fleet employees and be compliant with the latest vehicle regulations. While also being a good potential source of income, too.

Using outdated methods to manage your small business fleets, such as spreadsheets or pen-and-paper, can be challenging. By using these, not only do you lack the visible data for each vehicle and driver, but you’ll also find it difficult to understand your fleet’s total cost of ownership. As well as failing to construct an effective preventive maintenance schedule that helps reduce vehicle downtime.

But, by implementing a fleet management software tool, you’re able to keep on top of all your fleet operations and costs. The right tool allows you to collect all necessary vehicle and driver data in one centralised system. It also lets you track spending in real-time, such as fuel costs and maintenance fees. And, by enabling the right tool to automate your fleet processes, you’re able to focus on your other responsibilities in the business.

As a small business owner, not only do you strive to keep operating costs to a minimum, but you’ll also want to keep your expenditure down, too. With this in mind, you may be unsure about purchasing a fleet management solution. But, there are many solutions available that are directed at businesses with a small budget. For example, software vendor packages can be specifically designed for companies that require less data storage and have only a handful of fleet vehicles. That’s not to mention their affordable pricing models too, such as usage-based and monthly subscriptions.

2. What are the capabilities of a fleet tracking system when used to track vehicles and drivers?

Having a tracking system in place, alongside a fleet management software tool, is an efficient way to collect accurate data and improve your overall fleet operations. Whether you choose to implement GPS trackers, OBD devices, or other forms of tracking, the vehicle and driver data that you are able to collect can be extremely valuable.

When executed properly, a fleet tracking system is full of benefits for all types of businesses and solutions. For example, by using a GPS tracking system for commercial operations, you’re able to provide customers with a driver’s real-time location and the exact arrival time of their order. Not only does this increase customer satisfaction levels, but it also gives you peace of mind by having a definitive and detailed proof of service.

Beyond commercial purposes, fleet tracking systems can also provide essential real-time data regarding a vehicle’s usage and condition. You can see when a vehicle is being used, how often it is in operation, and by which driver or operator. With all of this data collected in a centralised system, you’re able to identify which vehicles are operating at maximum efficiency. As well as having access to maintenance reports that can alert you to when a vehicle needs repairing or replacing.

Fleet tracking systems aren’t only defined in highlighting the location and condition of vehicle fleets. They are also used for tracking and understanding driver behaviour. By knowing when your fleet operators are sitting idle, if they’re wasting fuel, or if they’re incurring traffic offences and fines can be crucial for reducing the costs of your fleet operations. Not only this, but you’re also able to build a library of triplogs and routes that each driver has taken to help improve future route planning.

3. Can a fleet management tool help build a preventive maintenance schedule to reduce my vehicle downtime?

Unplanned downtime and costly repairs are damaging for both your fleet operations and the company’s bottom line. But, by implementing a preventive maintenance schedule, these issues can be avoided and even improved upon. Especially when paired with the right fleet management software tool.

Although preventive maintenance schedules can be built using spreadsheets, they can be insufficient and disorganised. This results in vehicles missing routine maintenance and service inspections. Leading to downtime, huge repair costs and pricey vehicle replacements. These same problems appear when initiating a reactive maintenance approach to rectify vehicle breakdown.

But, with a fleet management tool and preventive maintenance schedule, fleet operations become easier to manage. There are many benefits to implementing this type of maintenance solution, including:

  • Reducing vehicle repair costs

    Although vehicle maintenance and services appear expensive, they’re going to help you in the long-term. By maintaining your fleet, you can ensure the future health and prolonged usability of each vehicle. As opposed to reacting to a breakdown and spending on repairs that haven’t been forecasted.

  • Reducing fleet fuel costs

    Not only will your repairs budget appear healthier, but so will your fleet’s fuel usage. By keeping vehicles properly maintained and optimal, their fuel efficiency will increase. This is possible by ensuring services are carried out such as regular oil changes and changing air filters.

  • Improving vehicle uptime

    Unplanned downtime is damaging to your business in a number ways, including a delay in fleet operations. By making sure your vehicles are routinely serviced and maintained, unexpected breakdowns and downtime is reduced. This allows more time for fleet operations to continue as usual and less time for vehicles to be sitting in the workshop.

  • Setting maintenance reminders based on factors

    Something that isn’t possible with a spreadsheet is the ability to set maintenance and service reminders. The right tool and maintenance plan will work together to trigger maintenance activities such as inspections, replacements, cleaning and testing. These are triggered when vehicles meet a set criteria based on mileage, fuel used, engine hours, and time.

4. Can my fleet operations be tracked and managed on a mobile device?

A mobile fleet management tool gives fleet managers the ability to access data on the move, monitor their fleet in real-time, and instantly react to work orders. As it’s not always possible to be at your desk and in front of a computer, a cloud-based or web-based mobile fleet management tool allows you to manage your fleet from anywhere at any time.

With a mobile solution, you can access all vehicle and driver data via a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Effectively giving you the ability to analyse information and make an informative decision straight from your pocket.

As with most software solutions, there are many benefits to implementing a web-based solution. And a mobile fleet management tool is no different. Some benefits include:

  • Increased time management

    A majority of delays in fleet operations occur when waiting to receive paperwork or waiting on updates to a work order status. But, with a mobile fleet management system, these costly delays are eliminated. Granting employees access to your cloud-based system means mechanics, drivers and warehouse operators are able to submit paperwork and update work orders straight away. They’re also able to attach any other necessary documentation, notes, or media such as images and videos.

  • Reacting quickly to problems and incidents

    You’re able to receive an alert to any problem in your fleet operations as it happens. Allowing you to react and solve the issue before it escalates. This includes being notified when a vehicle is due for service or maintenance, when a driver is sitting idle, or when a planned route is being configured.

  • Instantly viewing historical data

    Whether for analytics or informing your mechanics, you can instantly access all historical data regarding vehicles and drivers straight on your mobile device. This can include fuel logs, service history, maintenance reports, and driver behaviour.

  • Keeping your team in sync

    By granting access to your team, each user can view and update data straight to the system. This allows field workers to instantly edit work orders and log detailed notes regarding their operations. It’s also possible to restrict access to your team, by only allowing certain users to access certain areas and locking specific data as read-only.

Web-based management solutions can also work alongside any fleet telematics that you may have installed throughout your operations. For instance, you can check-in on any vehicle installed with a GPS tracker and receive real-time updates straight to your mobile device.