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Fleet management software helps businesses dispatch and track their vehicles from anywhere. To further ease operations, some software vendors also offer fuel management, inventory tracking and maintenance, and employee management capabilities. This type of software improves operational efficiency by automating processes and notifications, and helps with compliance and documentation by storing relevant data.
Here's what we'll cover in this buyers guide:
Fleet management software helps users track, coordinate, and manage work vehicles, assets, and inventory, and it helps to optimize delivery routes and schedules. As customer service becomes more important, fleet management software can improve the efficiency of your business operation's on-time delivery as well as provide operational insights.
The fleet management software market is quite segmented, with many companies offering solutions tailored to different fleet sizes, industries, and geographies. However, there are two primary distinctions for fleet management software:
Type of telematics systems
Frequency of GPS data collection/transfer
Telematics systems, which enable the use of GPS, are an essential component of fleet management software. Telematics enable asset and vehicle tracking, as well as routing functionalities, but the delivery methods for these systems vary.
OEM-embedded telematics systems: Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) install onboard computers, or fleetboxes, in their vehicles during manufacturing. These systems can track engine diagnostics and are customizable. The benefit of these systems is that they come with the vehicle you purchase, often already installed. However, unless you are purchasing an entire fleet at once, the solution could not be immediately applied to your existing fleet.
Aftermarket-installed telematics systems: These systems vary from onboard computers to plug-in devices. The benefit of these solutions is that they can be installed on almost any vehicle, allowing for the application of a single solution to your entire fleet.
Portable telematics systems: Portable telematics systems include portable navigation devices, tablets, and smartphones. These solutions connect to a network to transmit data and are easy to install.
There are two main types of GPS: passive and active (or real-time).
Passive: Passive solutions gather and store data on a device. The data can be retrieved once the vehicle arrives at the office or has access to a wireless network. This solution can be inexpensive as it only requires the purchase of the telematics device.
Active: Data is gathered and transmitted in real time. This type of GPS uses satellite and cellular networks to send the data to your computer. The cost can be higher as you may need to purchase both a device and access to a network connection. Real-time data might be necessary for a delivery company, for example, but not as important for a construction fleet.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Does your software require hardware? If so, what is its cost and installation process?
Deployment options are an important consideration when selecting fleet management software. This decision will hinge on data, security, and talent needs. GetApp exclusively features SaaS solutions as they better cater to the needs of small and midsize businesses.
With on-premise systems, you can expect:
Upfront investment; minimized monthly expenses
Control of data storage and security
Allows for many integrations, and has fewer data structure limitations
SaaS fleet management solutions increasingly cover a larger share of the market. Some of their benefits include:
Inexpensive, often pay as you go
Storage space not a concern
More frequent updates
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: How quickly is system data updated, and how easily can data be shared with remote team members?
Fleet management solutions have two main components: a GPS-enabled device and software. The software component processes the location data the GPS-enabled device collects to offer insights into fuel consumption, routing, and mile tracking. Many solutions go a step further to help you manage your fleet by tracking maintenance and managing employee information.
The most common fleet management software features are:
Dispatch management: Allows operators to send personnel and resources to a site as needed. This feature helps operators choose the best vehicle for the job and notify drivers of their assignments.
Dispatch functionality with GPS Insight
GPS tracking: With the help of a GPS tracking device, this feature allows you to view team, job, equipment, and vehicle locations on a map. Knowing where your fleet is at any given time can help you better track job progress and plan your next assignment.
GPS tracking with TomTom
Routing: This feature is essential to making sure your vehicle knows where to go and how to get there. It provides drivers with directions and plans the day's work to optimize employee scheduling.
Routing functionality with Tenna
Maintenance management: Enables you to assess and plan maintenance operations and updates to ensure longevity of physical assets. This feature can schedule maintenance ahead of time, track inspection history, and send reminders, all while reducing paperwork.
Status of vehicle maintenance in Fleet Manager
Employee management: Helps you track employee schedules, availability, and performance. This feature will enable you to manage time cards and track metrics such as miles driven and time per trip.
Employee timecard with Clearpath GPS
Fuel management: Allows you to track, manage, control, and monitor fuel consumption and stock. Monitoring fuel usage will help you see how it impacts your operating costs, and how you can optimize usage to reduce this expense.
Mobile fuel entry with Fleetio
Mile tracking: Logs miles driven for tax deduction or reimbursement purposes. This information will help you track asset usage, and will often include additional trip details such as idle time, stops, and speed.
Trip Log, including tracked miles with Azuga
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What features does your software specifically have for small to mid-sized businesses?
Ensuring that your fleet management software can be integrated with existing software and databases is essential to making the most of your resources. These are some of the most important integrations to consider:
Fuel systems; fuel cards: Track and analyze fuel usage, improve fuel efficiency, and offer an easy payment method.
Asset management: Track and predict asset maintenance needs; track assets and warranties.
GPS and telematics: Enables connection to telematics systems, including hardware and additional tracking and routing optimization applications.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Does your software pull data from other applications, and does it allow me to see my data all in one place?
While fleet management software solutions have certain features in common, every vendor will have slightly different functionalities to offer. Aside from the core features for this type of software, advanced configurations have the potential to take your business a bit further—you can be on top of the latest technology and ensure your software does more for your business.
Depending on your business's needs, these are the configurations you should consider:
ELD: Legislative mandate requires trucking companies to maintain electronic logs of their drivers' trips. Many fleet management vendors offer FMCSA approved ELDs and hours of service tracking capabilities.
Data security: Keep your assets and drivers secure by protecting against data breaches.
Route history: Track past routes to better plan and optimize repeat trips.
Incident reporting: Report and update incidents that occur on a job or site.
Work order management: Create work orders and track their status to completion
Inventory management: Track and manage the quantity of resources on hand to maintain proper supply
Tire management: Track vehicle tires to result in better cost-per-mile output.
Inspection management: Track, manage, control, and monitor worksite inspections to remain compliant with industry standards.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: How does your software cater to your needs? Are your software offerings scalable?
What does the future hold for fleet management software? It's not easy to remain current with all new technology, but these are some of the trends to look out for:
Cloud: Cloud deployments are becoming increasingly more common. The low cost of implementation, scalability, and high degree of connectivity with other platforms and systems makes this a popular deployment model that is expected to continue to grow.
Real-time visibility platforms: As customer experience expectations grow, so does the demand for real-time visibility of loads in transit. Real-time visibility means increased transparency, providing users with more current information.
Artificial intelligence: Some vendors are incorporating AI to optimize scheduling and routing to improve efficiency and better deal with driver shortages, reduced capacity, and traffic.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Does your business plan to add new features in the next 12 months? What technologies are you thinking of incorporating in the next few years?
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.