Maintaining and organising fleet vehicles, field personnel or other assets is impossible without a reliable centralised system accessible at all levels of the business. Luckily these systems do exist and are referred to as fleet management software or vehicle tracking systems. There are a number of solutions available and these have been developed to handle all aspects of managing and maintaining a fleet as well as personnel and job dispatching. Each comes with a raft of features and capabilities making it difficult to choose a solution.
There are many companies providing vehicle tracking and fleet management software solutions. These fall into two types of system, online or locally installed software.
Online systems are usually a web-based or “in the cloud”. They are accessed via a web interface or web browser where as a locally installed system is installed on a local computer. The pros and cons to these two systems are minimal and come down to I.T infrastructure already in use by the business. If a business has an existing database to manage parts of the business then this data may need to be accessed by fleet management software and this may need a locally installed solution.
What features or capabilities make fleet management software a good investment for a business?
Centralised Data Storage
Having all information in one place is a must for organisation of all aspects of a business. All good solutions enable the input and storage of vehicle information like service, M.O.T and road tax records. Driver records such as driving qualifications, medical requirements and endorsements can also be entered on to the system. Important vehicle and driver documents can be scanned and easily retrieved when required.
Vehicle Service Reminders, Alerts and Management
One really useful aspect of fleet management is the ability to set reminders or alerts for vehicle servicing, M.O.T or road tax due dates. Personnel can update the status of vehicle repairs and drivers can record any vehicle faults when completing daily checks.
Vehicle Tracking with GPS
An important feature when deciding on a fleet management solution is the ability to know where vehicles or personnel are located or where they have been. Vehicle tracking is usually achieved with the installation of a small device in the vehicle or in the case of personnel or assets a small device can be carried in a pocket or attached. Once setup it is possible to see vehicles, people and assets in real-time on maps. Knowing where all the business assets are allows the fleet manager or transport dispatcher to assign the right asset to the correct location.
Job Assignment and Dispatch
This is a very useful feature but not all fleet management systems feature it. The ability to assign jobs via the system is a really useful function. Mobile personnel, drivers or field engineers can update the job status, upload images and signatures enabling back office staff to immediately see and inform a customer of progress. These systems can be installed on existing devices such as smart iPhones, Android and Blackberry handsets.
History Trails and Reports
When all of a business’s data is stored in a centrally managed system it is easy to compile reports that can improve efficiency and even save money.
Detailed reports on individual assets such as vehicles can show total running costs for that vehicle. Vehicle tracking information can show how much fuel has been used and help to suggest cheaper alternative routes. This combined data from personnel can help a business to see where efficiencies can be achieved.
To summarise, fleet management software and vehicle tracking solutions should enhance a business and if used correctly should improve the operating and efficiency of a business’s mobile resources. The savings that can be achieved may be out-weighed by the costs of the systems but that should also be balanced against the increased productivity and the ability to offer a better service to clients.