Choosing The Correct Fleet Management System For Your Business
Recently a prospective customer called looking for help with their fleet management system. The customer, a newly appointed CFO, is paying $55k per year for an expensive system with live AVL tracking that covers on 60% of his fleet. The incumbent supplier was pushing for him to up his investment to 100% coverage and the CFO couldn’t identify $55k worth of value that the system gave his company. Unsurprisingly, the CFO was unwilling to invest more and is looking for ways to get the same features for less cost.
Unfortunately for many CFOs and fleet owners selecting the right fleet management system for their business can be a time-consuming and confusing task. Not only is there an abundance of suppliers you also have to wade through a lot of different technology options too!
Be clear on your business objectives and your budget
Before you start your search you need to be very clear on your business requirements. Are you looking for an easier way to manage fleet maintenance or are you looking for more advanced fleet tracking features like automated vehicle location (AVL) tracking and dispatch management? Do you need driver behavior monitoring? Fuel receipt tracking? Make a list of what you require.
Don’t forget to include your budget limitations as well. Knowing what you’re willing or able to pay will help to winnow out useless features.
Prioritize the fleet management features you need
Once you’ve made your list you can think about prioritizing these requirements. Make sure that you identify the top 3 to 5 features that you need to have to make your investment in a fleet management system successful. Don’t overlook basic but important operational requirements like:
- automated vehicle data collection vs manual odometer entry systems
- vehicle maintenance scheduling
- remote vehicle diagnotics – OBD2 or J1939
- driver behavior monitoring
- fuel management
- exportability of system data to new applications
What are your technology options?
Once you have fleshed out these requirements you can start a review of your fleet maintenance system hardware technology options. The good news is that you’ll have many choices. Unfortunately, the bad news is that you’ll have many choices. Sorting through your choices will be much easier if you’ve made that list. As you evaluate the technology options think creatively about how to solve your particular problems. It may be that there are process improvements that will generate the same improvements without significant investments.
Interview lots of fleet management system suppliers
You can learn alot about what you need through a thorough interview of prospective suppliers. Don’t hestitate to ask for demos of fleet management systems. Look for systems across the entire solutions area so you get a good review of the different ways that supplier’s systems will meet your needs. You might find that smaller fleet management systems meet your budget and feature requirements better than the unwieldy fleet management systems offered by wireless carriers.
Identify hidden costs
When you’ve narrowed down your search you can then identify all the costs for the systems. How much of your monthly fees are hidden hardware costs? Are cellular fees too high? What about installation and support? These hidden fees, as our CFO prospect was quick to point out, start devouring your annual fleet management budgets before the ink is even dried.