60% Of Business Owners Manage Their Fleets With Paper And Spreadsheets
The more things change the more they remain the same. Incredible as it may seem a strong majority of vehicle fleet owners (76%) are still managing their fleets the old-fashioned way using books, paper and spreadsheets or nothing at all. According to Software Advice, an even larger majority, 80% of fleet owners want to use software to organize their fleet data. It begs the question: what’s stopping them?
The latest fleet management survey from Software Advice, Fleet Maintenance Management Survey BuyerView 2014, highlights the feature requirements of vehicle fleet owners but only hints at the reason why many fleet owners have not yet implemented a more professional fleet manageement system (FMS). What is clear from the report is that with over 76% of vehicle fleet owners still using non-electronic methods to manage their fleets something is holding back adoption of these useful software applications.
Preponderance of AVL Suppliers
When you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.
When you examine the top-requested fleet management features you find that GPS ranks very low on the list (only 2% ranked GPS tracking as a required feature). Unfortunately, most fleet management suppliers offer only real-time automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems which are driven by GPS.
AVL systems are notorious for making it complicated for smaller fleets (57% of respondents have fewer than 50 vehicles and 72% have 100 or fewer vehicles) to engage a supplier. They offer expensive features that 98% of fleet owners say they don’t need. These AVL GPS tracking systems are plagued with issues that make smaller fleets less likely to adopt the technology:
- expensive monthly subscriptions of $30/month to more than $60/month
- complex implementations and high installation fees
- requirement to assign dedicated staff to monitor vehicle locations
- 36 – 60 month service contracts
- cellular contracts required per vehicle
- weakness on key features like reporting, maintenance management and fleet fuel management
Feature Fragmentation Complicates Supplier Selection
Being forced to pay high monthly fees for AVL and GPS vehicle tracking features that 98% of fleet owners say they don’t want presents a huge obstacle to system adoption. On top of that the frustration of feature fragmentation makes choosing a fleet management system an overwhelming task.
- Which vendor best supports the critical features my business needs?
- Am I paying for features I don’t need or won’t use?
- What if I want to change my software supplier later on?
Getting the answers to these critical questions can be so distracting and time-consuming that many fleet managers throw up their hands in frustration and stay with their existing inadequate and inefficient manual systems.
The best way to fight through this complexity is to parse the fleet management system selection problem into smaller decisions. Knowing what the number 1 business goal is can really help identify the most important features. If maintenance management is the key then search for products that do that as their primary function then let the technology decisions support that requirement.
Automation is the key to maximizing fleet management efficiency
Software can only solve so much. The GIGO rule (garbage in – garbage out) holds true here. Moving from a spreadsheet to a PC based fleet management application may solve some fleet management issues but it won’t solve them all. 48% of fleet owners in the survey indicated that improving fleet management efficiency is the primary goal for implementing a sofware-based fleet management system.
Automation of fleet management functionsreduces errors and improves efficiency. It is no secret to most fleet managers who manually collect odometer readings for their maintenance management systems that employees are bad at supplying the correct odometer reading. Fuel card systems which collect that data everytime a vehicle is fueled suffer from the same problem.
With mileage and odometer readings being the primary driver for fleet maintenance management automation getting those right is critically important. Using technology to automate that process is the only way to achieve those efficiency gains these fleet managers seek.
Strong automation requires either a web-based software-as-a-service SAAS application for tight integration with the automation hardware or a more expensive stand-alone implementation on the fleet owners site. Since most survey participants favored web-hosted fleet management systems by a 2-to1 margin it seems that many fleet managers understand this advantage.
Choosing a solution that can easily be managed by local IT resources
Perhaps the final issue that may keep fleet owners from adopting a professional fleet management system is the unknown cost of managing the hardware and software. Clearly a web-based approach simplifies teh software management component greatly for the fleet manager. In web-based systems the supplier manages the entire resource for the end customer including servers hardware, licenses, software updates and 24×7 access capabilities.
The hardware systems required for automation like GPS tracking devices often require professional installation and can not be as easily managed by the fleet manager or the local IT person. Newer OBD2 based fleet vehicle monitors are much easier to manage and maintain by local IT personnel and offer the same efficiency benefits as GPS AVL systems at a more affordable price point. Thess plug-and-play vehicle monitoring systems may also offer easy export of vehicle information to third-party applications to support best-in-class fleet management.
Make the move to more efficient and productive fleet management
Products like Prova Systems Fleet Genius help companies, especially smaller businesses looking to automate their fleet management operations, bridge the gap between the manual bookkeeping fleet management systems and web-hosted systems at a more affordable small business price points.
Charts are courtesy of Software Advice, a company that reviews and compares fleet management systems.