Fleet Management Software maximises the management, tracking, and maintenance tasks of a business’s fleet. It is a digital tool used by fleet managers to track vehicles and understand driver behaviour. Allowing data to be stored in a single platform via telematics, GPS trackers, and safety inspections. Fleet management tools help to reduce costs such as fuel and emergency repairs. Whilst also improving route optimisation for drivers. As well as cutting out risks such as missed MOTs and unplanned breakdowns.
What Is Fleet Management?
Fleet management incorporates multiple processes that enable transport managers and fleet managers to take complete control of their business’s entire fleet operations. Whether managing a fleet of commercial vehicles manually via spreadsheets or using an automated computerised system, the objective of fleet management remains the same; to maximise productivity and efficiency while reducing costs.
Managing a fleet of any size consists of various tasks that span from asset acquisition, vehicle maintenance, driver safety, route optimisation, and compliance with transport regulations. Essentially, to ensure optimal management of a fleet, businesses need to focus on key fleet management processes such as:
Along with drivers, vehicles are the most important asset of any fleet operation. So that operations run continuously and efficiently, fleet managers must ensure proper management of their vehicles by carrying out specific tasks that include:
- Tyre management
- Fuel management
- Safety inspections
When executed effectively, the management of drivers can save fleet organisations thousands of pounds each year when it comes to reducing fuel costs and driver-incurred fines through the use of fleet telematics. Sufficient driver management also entails driver safety checks, license checks, and risk assessments.
Fleet maintenance is essential for making sure vehicles are operating in a good enough condition that not only makes them safe for drivers but also increases reliability to keep them on the road for longer. With the right fleet management tool, fleet managers can implement preventative maintenance schedules for fleets. Without a proactive approach to fleet maintenance vehicles risk failing MOTs and services as well as falling victim to unplanned downtime and costly repairs.
What Does Fleet Management Software Do?
Whether responsible for a small fleet of company cars and vans or a large fleet of HGV trucks, managing a business’s vehicle processes is essential for achieving optimal fleet performance. But, fleet management can be an overwhelming process of endless management and maintenance tasks. Especially without access to cloud-based tools that are found in Fleet Management Software.
With the right tools at their disposal, transport managers are able to make informed decisions based on accurate data. This allows businesses to:
- Track vehicles and drivers in real-time
- Analyse and improve driver behaviour
- Reduced vehicle downtime through proactive maintenance
- Minimise maintenance, servicing, and MOT costs
- Reduced vehicle running costs such as fuel spending
- Improve the safety of vehicles and drivers
Typically entrusted with a fleet manager, the entire fleet management process is centred around the data collection of a business’s fleet operations. This includes tracking vehicles from acquisition to disposal, monitoring driver behaviour, and planning service maintenance checks or MOTs. With a Fleet Management Software solution, all of this data is stored in a centralised dashboard that is accessible to all fleet personnel at any time.
As well as providing a central system for fleet managers and transport directors, a fleet management system is equipped with sophisticated tools to enhance and automate data collection. This is achieved by utilising fleet telematics such as GPS, in-vehicle sensors, and machine diagnostics. Thus enabling businesses to collect more data than ever before regarding their vehicles and drivers.
The process of collecting and analysing in-depth fleet management data provides a variety of different benefits to businesses of all sizes. For instance, it can help to improve vehicle and driver safety standards, increase vehicle uptime, maximise productivity, and reduce operational costs. In fact, by implementing fleet management tools, businesses saw a 68% reduction in fuel bills alone.
The ability to track and monitor fleet operations in real-time has become such an appealing prospect for businesses that the fleet management market is estimated to be worth $34 billion by 2025.
The overall benefits of using a fleet management solution are vast and can have a positive effect on how a business manages both its vehicles and drivers.
Benefits of Vehicle Management
- Monitor excessive idling, inefficient routes planning, and harsh acceleration to control fuel usage
- Record an entire inventory of cars, vans, trucks, and buses
- Analyse data and produce reports to measure costs
- Monitor the health of vehicle engines
- Easily schedule maintenance checks, services, and MOTs
Benefits of Driver Management
- Correct driver behaviour by tracking speeding fines and accidents
- Track vehicles with geofencing boundaries and driver hours to plan more efficient routes
- Improve health and safety standards by reviewing driver licences and setting alerts for speeding, harsh braking, and dangerous driving
- Easily view driver availability
How Does a Fleet Manager Benefit From a Fleet Management System?
Whether implementing a fleet management solution for the first time or replacing an outdated vehicle management tool, businesses want to elevate and maximise their overall fleet operations. A key factor for making this possible is to ensure the right personnel is in charge; a fleet manager.
Once a fleet manager is at the helm, they’ll need to be provided with the best tools to help with their vehicle and driver processes.
But, before deciding on the best fleet management tool for a fleet manager, it’s important to understand that these systems aren’t just designed for large organisations. In fact, they can be incorporated into all different types of operations, such as small businesses with a pool of five vehicles, to enterprises with thousands of cars, vans, and trucks.
The use of Fleet Management Software can be a much-welcomed addition to both experienced and new fleet managers. Not only because of the benefits that cloud-based tools provide for reducing costs and collecting data but because of the ability to automate otherwise manual and time-consuming tasks. For instance:
- Manually communicating from the office to workers on the road takes on average 1 hour 41 mins per day
- Identifying and despatching the best driver for a job takes 1 hour 41 mins per day on average
- Manually carrying out vehicle checks takes 1 hour 36 mins on average per day
- Checking driver licences takes 1 hour 29 minutes on average per day
What Are the Typical Challenges of Managing a Fleet?
With Fleet Management Software in place, the challenges that present themselves when managing a fleet are significantly reduced. A fleet system is designed to help transport managers and business owners effectively track, maintain, analyse, and manage all vehicle and driver data in one place; with the purpose to control vehicle life cycles, reduce associated risks, enhance productivity, and increase efficiency. But, without a computerised tool at its disposal, a business's fleet operations can suffer.
Managing a pool of five to ten vehicles is not a difficult task for an experienced fleet manager. But, when that fleet consists of hundreds or thousands of vehicles, it can quickly become overwhelming. Coupled with the fear of not knowing if the investment of acquiring and monitoring vehicles is paying off, gaps can begin to appear.
One major challenge that all fleet-dependent businesses encounter is not being able to reduce the expensive running costs that a fleet can incur. Without a fleet management solution, businesses begin to lose track of what they’re spending on vehicles and fail to grasp a true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
As well as managing a team of drivers and ensuring general operations run smoothly, there are also uncontrollable external influences that affect the way a fleet operation works. These include consistently fluctuating fuel prices, an uncertain car market, and changes to transport and safety legalisation.
Besides dealing with external factors, typical challenges facing a fleet operation lie closer to home.
Tracking Vehicles and Drivers
Driven by the use of fleet telematics and GPS trackers, the ability to have complete visibility of an entire fleet in real-time is essential for businesses looking to maximize productivity. But, without these tools, visibility becomes blurry. Fleet managers have to rely on the word of drivers and customers to gauge a vehicle’s location, know if a delivery or service has been successful, and if a driver has kept to a pre-planned route.
Monitoring Driver Behaviour
From incurring speeding fines to excessive fuel usage, a driver’s behaviour can have a direct impact on the costs of any fleet operation. A driver can drive fuel expenditure by idling, harsh braking, harsh acceleration, and diverting away from pre-planned routes. These are factors that can’t directly be measured on a spreadsheet and won’t be made aware of until payments are due.
Ensuring Vehicle Maintenance with Fleet Management
As well as scheduling MOTs and services, vehicles also need to be properly maintained to avoid any lengthy repairs and subsequent downtime. Ensuring maintenance is carried out on vehicles is essential for avoiding any delays that may hamper operations, as well as avoiding high costs. An estimated £727 is lost per day per vehicle in the UK because of maintenance downtime.
Staying Compliant with Transport Regulations
In preparation for audits and insurance claims, a paper trail for each vehicle is required. This means documents such as safety checks, service reports, and maintenance history records need to be stored. With regulations changing, businesses also need to keep on top of legal requirements. A recent law that came into practice in 2017 was the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, which requires commercial vehicle operators to record Hours of Service (HOS) electronically.
Preparing for Future Fleet Management Trends
On top of maintenance requirements, legal compliance, and driver safety, businesses also have to be mindful of future trends in the transport industry. This includes planning for the use of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and electric vehicles (EV).
Key Features Needed to Meet Vehicle, Driver, and Maintenance Goals
Although fleet management tools can be designed to suit a specific business need, there are various features that can be found in most systems.
As an essential part of driver management, 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 driver 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, managers have the power to override their decision and make sure they stick to the plan.
GPS Tracking and Fleet Telematics
Among many other benefits, the use of GPS tracking and fleet telematics is essential to help visually monitor where vehicles and drivers are in real-time. 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, fleet managers are able to:
- Track and locate vehicles in real-time
- Optimise routes for deliveries
- Reduce operational costs
- Understand if a vehicle is idle for an excessive amount of time
- Track unauthorised movement and derailing from a planned route
- Highlight GEO fences and receive alerts if a vehicle has breached that area
- Understand driver behaviour to apply safety measures
Identify 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, businesses 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.
An example of an operation that relies heavily on 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.
TCO and Spend Tracking
Tracking and collecting essential data with Fleet Management Software is a great way of knowing the exact expenditure of fleet operations. Not only can managers see the depreciation for each vehicle, but they can also start to evaluate the difference in cost between owning and leasing fleet assets. For example, they may realise that it is cheaper for a business to own a vehicle instead of leasing one.
As well as this, businesses 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
Service, Maintenance, and MOT Alerts
Whether a fleet manager is responsible for 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%.
Businesses can also collect service and maintenance data of all vehicles and store it in a centralised system. This enables stakeholders to see and be automatically notified when a vehicle’s insurance policy or warranty is about to expire.
Employee Management and Driver Behaviour
By implementing a system that can effectively track vehicles, managers are also able to gather data regarding their drivers. This can include average speeds, harsh acceleration reports, idling periods, and speeding violations.
By collecting this data, businesses can take the necessary precautions to eradicate risky driver habits and encourage safer 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, businesses can:
- Track and manage employee schedules, availability, and performance
- Generate reports on operators and drivers
- Track and store driver fines such as parking and speeding tickets
- Use IoT tools, such as NFC and Barcodes, to identify drivers using multi-driver vehicles
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 managers see how much fuel is being used and when a company fuel card has been activated. Businesses can also collect driver receipts and mileage data to cross-check any false claims that may be issued.
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 vehicles and drivers.
The process of recognising what 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 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.
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 require a solution that offers the right features to match their requirements.
Logistics, Third-party Logistic (3PL) Firms, and Courier Services
Implementing fleet management software into a logistics and delivery organisation can be beneficial in a number of ways, including:
- The ability to track deliveries in real-time from a warehouse to the final destination
- Providing the most efficient and time-saving way to load cargo into vehicles
- Mapping out routes to determine the most cost-efficient journey
- Minimising operating expenses
When choosing the right tool, you’ll also want to prioritise particular features that 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 applies to 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.
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 By using GPS technology, not only are you able to track the location of a vehicle 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 also improving time management.
Plan the Most Efficient Route This applies significantly to law enforcement and emergency services, as each vehicle 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 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.
Construction and Industrial Fleet Operations
Fleet managers operating in large-scale construction organisations will require a tool to improve and ease their 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 regarding 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.
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 reducing the time a vehicle sits idle by just 25% can save $1,425 per vehicle each year.
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.
How to Find and Compare the Best Fleet Management Software
Coupled together with tools for vehicle maintenance and fuel management, Fleet Management Software provides a number of key features for all types of organisations. But, as well as identifying the right fleet management solution for the type of buyer you are, picking a solution with the right features is just as 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
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.
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.
As you begin your search, you’ll notice that Fleet Management Software vendors offer tools with different variations of features. For example, some products may focus entirely on real-time vehicle tracking through fleet telematics, whereas others may focus more on correcting driver behaviour.
Although all features are designed with improving fleet operations in mind, it’s important to know the features that are better suited to your own goals. Once you’ve highlighted these features, it’s time to choose the right tool.
But, before doing so, there are certain factors that you need to consider.
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 your other fleet assets. These can include trailers, boats, machinery, and heavy equipment. You can also collect data on fleet accessories such as dashcams 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.
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 fleet managers 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.
Is the System Scalable and Future-Proof for Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)?
In the coming years, fleet managers may be expected to swap their mechanical fleet for Autonomous Vehicles (AVs). This can be beneficial in areas such as lowering fuel consumption, increasing productivity, and experiencing 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 a vendor’s costs and limits on data storage.
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
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.