Upgrading your firm’s fleet management software can be costly – though the savings may be enormous. Read these seven steps first, plus our directory of the leading fleet software houses.
Traditionally organisations have relied upon stand-alone systems or Excel to manage each aspect of fleet management – from vehicle servicing and expense claims through to parking fines, risk assessment, driver licence checks and mileage returns.
But this two-dimensional approach does not enable stakeholders to track information, and it is only as reliable as the individual that inputted the data in the first place.
Jason Francis, managing director of fleet management software specialist Jaama says: “At the very least, your fleet software should allow the sharing of information between departments, so that stakeholders: HR, purchasing and payroll, can sign in and produce a report on business mobility at any time.”
1. Is your current system failing to deliver?
“If you’re currently unable to access data remotely, view all information in the same place, easily analyse trends and benchmark data to effectively plan, schedule activities or automate processes, it’s probably time to seriously consider investing in a web-based fleet management solution,” says Ashley Sowerby, managing director of specialist software house Chevin Fleet Solutions.
“As fleets expand, or the need to implement cost saving measures increases, the ability to see every piece of the fleet puzzle from one user-friendly portal becomes more than just a nice to have extra. It becomes key to successful and efficient fleet management.”
2. Identify your needs
Don’t be fobbed of with an off-the-shelf product.
“Having a firm grasp of what it is you want your fleet management software to achieve in the first place is a good starting point,” says Sowerby. “But if day-to-day fleet management isn’t your key area of responsibility, identifying the problem areas of existing processes can be tricky. Investing in a fleet management system, that’s genuinely going to add value to your business, isn’t an off the shelf purchase. What works for one company’s fleet, won’t necessarily for the other.”
“Step one when you’re on the lookout for a new software provider is to ensure you work with a provider of fleet management software that can supply the expertise and take the time needed to understand your set up. Truly effective fleet solutions are built around an individual organisation’s needs,” he adds.
3. Ask the right questions
These can include:
- How will you work with my organisation to understand our requirements?
- Will you provide training for our staff?
- Will you provide ongoing technical support and/or consultancy?
- Will I be able to provide staff with various levels of access, depending on roles and responsibilities?
- Will I be able to easily add additional functionality as and when the need arises?
- Will I be able to automate processes such as parking fine payments/queries?
- Will staff be able to access this system from portable devices such as PDAs?
- Can I talk to some of your existing clients or reference sites, to get their opinion?
4. Opt for a future proof system
Make sure it is the latest version, and that it is web-based. This enables fleet data to be transferred from third party providers – fuel card management reports, contract hire and leasing companies, rental suppliers and accident management companies – without manual input.
“A web-based solution can open up access to all authorised personnel, while removing the hassle of desktop installation and ongoing technical management,” says Sowerby. “As fleet operations develop, the need to be able to access crucial data remotely whilst on the move is only going to increase. Web-based solutions empower fleet personnel to view and update information in real-time and provide management personnel with a holistic view over the entire fleet process.
“We are working to ensure our systems integrate with more government departments,” adds Francis. “Already, our customers are submitting reports and receiving information from the likes of HM Revenue and Customs, the DVLA and VOSA. We expect that list to increase in the future.”
5. Get your money’s worth
Sort the features from the benefits. A good online package should deliver:
- Significantly reduced administration through automation and online records – less time spent on tasks, pushing paper, and queries.
- Better cost control – a good online system will monitor, control and reject erroneous expenditure and provide automated checks and balances to make sure that processes are operating as intended and within predefined parameters without the requirement for someone to intervene and run manual checks.
- The identification and management of key performance indicators and forecasting – for example, is it more cost effective to keep a vehicle four years rather than three?
- The non-quantifiable – proactive driver risk profiling, driver licence checking, and ‘grey fleet’ duty of care management
6. Read the manual
Take time out to learn what the system can do. Training could be provided by a supplier. At least read the reference manual.
“By taking this approach, and deciding what they want to achieve with their chosen system following implementation, HR managers will be able to let the technology do the ‘running around’ for them. This will enable them to devote more time to strategic issues, with the technology handling the more routine,” says Francis.
A good supplier will hold your hand during implementation and beyond, he adds: “In addition to providing training, businesses should look for their chosen supplier to provide on-going customer support via email, telephone or an on-line chat facility which helps with all issues relating to usage advice or day to day help with operational questions.”
7. Kick back and watch the savings pile up
The greatest wins initially will be that fuel and repairs costs fall, fines and damage is recharged more consistently and that there will be more viability of expenditure.
“Our customers often tell us that their investment is recovered within the first year many times over with thousands of pounds saved. A major international courier using Jaama’s Key2 Vehicle Management is now saving £170,000 per year on parking fines by identifying problem locations and drivers and dealing with them. Decisions taken by British Car Auctions to introduce longer replacement cycles and cap emissions could save the company more than £700,000,” says Francis.
Fleet software suppliers
The following firms are some of the UK’s biggest fleet management software providers:
- Airmax Remote
- Drivers UK
- CFC Solutions
- Chevin Fleet Solutions
- E-Training World
- International Decision Systems
- Jato Dynamics
- Metasystem UK
- Toomey Opticar
- VRS Europe.