Fleet Management Buyer's Guide
Fleet management software has become a must-have for any company that deploys a fleet of vehicles. There are many benefits that businesses receive from being able to track fleets through software:
- Create a centralized scheduling system for dispatches and deliveries
- Display optimized routes to drivers through GPS
- Use GPS tracking to monitor where vehicles are in real time, ensuring that vehicles do not go astray
- Save money on fuel costs by monitoring consumption
- Find good rates for long haul shipping
- Keep track of vehicle maintenance needs
Key Features and Modules
With a huge range of fleet management software solutions available on the market, companies have many options in selecting the software that best meets their needs. But these features are among the most important:
Management tools for dispatch and scheduling: The core purpose of a fleet is to make deliveries and dispatches on schedule. An application that tracks orders and dispatch schedules is therefore critical.
GPS navigation: A fleet management software solution should provide users with full visibility of an entire fleet in real time. Knowledge of every vehicleâ€™s location allows potential problems to be addressed quickly.
Alert systems: Wouldnâ€™t it be useful to know whenever a driver is off-route or engaging in unsafe behavior? With automated alert systems, you can receive text notifications whenever certain events occur.
Route optimization features: If your vehicles are going to be making multiple stops along a route (as is common), youâ€™ll need a route optimization feature to calculate the best possible route between the locationsâ€”saving time and the cost of fuel.
Fuel card integration: When your fleet management software integrates with fuel cards, you are able to closely monitor fuel consumption.
Rates management for long haul shipping: Long haul shipping can be expensive, so the ability to monitor rates and quotes through a software solution can help save.
Load optimization: Determining how to distribute cargo is a science. Fleet management software can identify how to most efficiently distribute cargo to each individual vehicle.
Fleet maintenance monitoring: Maintenance problems can torpedo a fleetâ€™s ability to perform its functions. With fleet maintenance monitoring features, managers can track vehicles under maintenance. Additionally, the system provides notifications for regularly scheduled preventative maintenance checks.
Mobile access: Since todayâ€™s workforce is increasingly mobile, being able to access fleet management information through a mobile device is oftentimes necessary. Many software solutions offer a mobile app or web access.
Important Considerations for Buyers
Purchasing a fleet management software solution is a major decision. Before you sign a contract, take stock of your needs by asking some basic questions.
- Do I want a web-based application? SaaS solutions offer many advantages to users.
- How will drivers access the application? Will they be using mobile devices to access the softwareâ€”and if so, what platform do their devices utilize? (i.e. iOS, Android)
- What functions will drivers be performing with the application? What are their needs in terms of usability?
- Do we need to install additional GPS hardware? How can we integrate our existing GPS hardware with the new software?
- How will this software affect the ways in which customers interact with our company? Is it important for customers to be able to follow vehicle movement in real time? Several programs offer this functionality.
- Will the fleet management software need to integrate with other applications, such as HR software applications?
- Whatâ€™s our business plan for the next five years? If we plan to grow our fleet, how will this happen? If you plan to scale, it is important to select a fleet management software solution that provides easy scalability.
- Do we prefer for GPS tracking tools to be based in Google Maps or to have their own data sources? Although many fleet management software applications rely on a Google Maps API, this is a potential source for problems.
- When can we anticipate receiving Return on Investment (ROI)? It should be possible to calculate your savings based on information about your fleet. Some companies recoup their investment in fleet management software within as little as 120 days of purchase.
- What do we require from a vendor in terms of ongoing support?
These questions will help you to determine what you need in a fleet management software solution.
Types of Solutions
The market for this software is robust, featuring solutions for a wide range of businesses and needs. Here are the basic categories of fleet management software.
Software as a Service (SaaS): As in other software applications, SaaS solutions are becoming standard for fleet management. Web-based software offers numerous benefits, including low overhead and maintenance costs. Other perks include the ability to access software remotely, built-in data backups, and mobile accessâ€”all of which are particularly important for fleet management.
Cellular:One important distinction between fleet tracking systems is the means by which GPS data is transmitted. A cellular tracking system uses cellular transmissions. Although this option tends to be less expensive than alternatives, it is more limited in terms of providing up to the minute information. Typically, users pay a monthly fee. Cellular tracking is a good option for smaller fleets.
Passive Wireless:Passive wireless tracking systems work in a similar manner to cellular tracking. These systems operate by recording data on hardware within an individual vehicle. Traditionally this method does not provide real-time tracking, although this has been changing as of late. Passive wireless tracking requires investment in additional hardware, but not a monthly fee. This is also a cost-effective option for smaller fleets.
Satellite: Satellite transmission allows users to receive up to the minute location tracking for all vehicles. Typically, satellite tracking comes with monthly fees.
Specialized Use Solutions:Given the wide range of businesses that utilize fleet management software, a number of solutions cater to specific needs. These include third-party logistics firms, for-hire carriers, local delivery services, and taxi services, among others.
Many vendors offer fleet management software, and new players are always entering the marketplace. In fact, MarketsandMarkets estimates that by 2019, the industry will be worth $35 billion worldwide.
Major vendors include Smartfleet, Telogis, Fleetmatics, and Dossier, among others. Apple recently announced that it is partnering with Telogis to provide additional iOS support and possible Apple Watch integration, which may be a draw for many buyers.
Other vendors have won acclaim for meeting the needs of small businesses. These solutions include Fleet Genius, GPSTrackIt, and InTouch GPS.
Fleet management is always evolving in conjunction with business and technology. In selecting a fleet management solution, here are some trends to keep under consideration.
- Mobile capacity is becoming mandatory, and mobile apps can do more than ever. With the new mobile apps, drivers can contact customers when necessary, enabling a better customer experience.
- Environmental awareness is critical. Many of todayâ€™s consumers care about limiting their carbon footprint, so it is beneficial for companies to show customers that they are taking steps to limit fuel consumption. While shipping operations do consume substantial resources, the fuel-saving measures enabled by fleet management software can minimize environmental impact.
- In-depth analytics provide companies with information to help limit costs, optimize scheduling and routes, and otherwise improve business efficiency.
- Customization options are improving. This is significant for both day-to-day usage of software as well as for unlocking new insights from data analytics.