Fleet management is in the midst of a revolution thanks to telematics – the technology of sending, receiving and storing information to keep track of vehicles remotely.
Enabling fleet managers to monitor their vehicles and drivers like never before, while enhancing efficiency and safety, fleet management solutions can lead to significant financial savings.
The advantages of telematics include:
- Higher fuel economy
- Better driving behaviour
- Lower emissions
- Predictive maintenance
- Fewer speeding tickets
- Reduced mileage fraud
- Lower insurance premiums
- Improved safety
- Increased efficiency
- Healthier fleet
- Less administration
The benefits of a telematics-based fleet management solution are clear and it’s not hard to make a firm business case for the investment. Finding the right system for your company is another matter.
Essential tips for choosing a fleet management system:
1) Business needs
List your objectives and make sure your choice satisfies these needs. Do you want the system to solve any problems you’re currently experiencing, or are you simply looking to cut costs by making savings and streamlining processes? Could you manage with a more basic system or are you looking for a cutting-edge solution? Will you and/or your colleagues have time to manage the system, monitor the data and make informed business decisions based on it?
2) The right partner
Choosing the correct fleet management system can be a difficult decision because there are dozens of companies out there of all shapes and sizes. Be open-minded and try not to base your decision purely on financial grounds. Obviously, you want to futureproof your decision, but if you’re only going to use a fraction of the functionality available, it may not be for you. Don’t be dismissive of newer companies, but don’t be blindsided by too-good-to-be true offers. Look at the small print: What’s the contract situation and is there a get-out in case things don’t work out? Request testimonials and ask if you can see the product operating at another company. It may even be possible to have a trial “lite” version installed to give you a feel for the system.
3) Training and support
It’s essential that you and other users should be trained properly. Spread the knowledge, otherwise you’ll find yourself as the ‘go-to’ person, which is time-consuming. Where will the training take place – on-site or remotely? Make sure everything is set up and you’re not just left high and dry. For instance, digital dashboards should be customised to give you the information you and your colleagues need at the touch of a button in an easy-to-understand format, perhaps with graphical elements. Moving on, will there be 24/7 support and ongoing training for new members of staff?
5) Ease of use
Ideally your system should be web-based, but allowing access via other devices such as smartphones and tablet will ensure alerts can be received 24/7 if required. It will need to be fast, easy to use and be able to integrate with existing systems, while well designed dashboards are often the best way to get an instant overview. Some companies also require their solutions to interface with HR and finance departments. Alerts functionality is especially useful because they can be set to notify you about everything from unusual out-of-hour incidents and vehicle maintenance reminders to weekly round-ups of distance covered.
Make sure you plump for a system that can grow with your company. For instance, your business goals may change (for example there may be a greater focus on sustainability or your firm might embark on rapid expansion), so your fleet management system needs to be flexible from the outset.
7) Safe and secure
Ask potential providers about what security measures are in place, where the data is stored and, crucially, who owns it? Is the software regularly put through penetration testing to keep your company’s data secure? And what happens if you switch fleet management solution in the future – will you lose your historical data?
Telematics can revolutionise fleet management and lead to safer, more efficient drivers and lower costs, but choosing the right system is key to unleashing its full potential.