In order to avoid any miscommunication with drivers, eliminate paperwork and properly organize, manage, and coordinate your vehicles you should integrate and deploy telematics fleet management software to manage routing, vehicle utilization, and field service efficiency, to monitor driving behavior, like idling and speeding, increase fuel saving and improve customer service.
What is Fleet Management Software?
Let’s begin by identifying what is fleet management software and what benefits of fleet management automation can boost your company’s performance and profitability.
A fleet management system is customized for controlling various kinds of motor vehicles, like cars, trucks, vans, planes, ships, etc. It performs such functions as:
- vehicle tracking and diagnostics,
- fuel management,
- vehicle maintenance,
- field service management,
- routing and route optimization,
- asset and equipment tracking,
- deliveries management,
- and driver management.
Fleet management software is becoming indispensable for businesses that rely on transportation especially with the growing number of businesses’ converting to online and increased demand for advanced delivery services. Telematics allows getting actionable insights into various areas of fleet management and to improve efficiency, productivity, cost savings as well as extend the lives of the vehicles.
With the help of fleet management software, dispatchers can live track all vehicles from a single location. Tracking systems allow controlling the way a vehicle is used, its safety, as well as the driver’s behavior. Some fleet management software solutions also include remote control facilities (e.g. speed limiting or stolen vehicle recovery).
GPS (Global Positioning System) fleet trackers use a satellite-based navigation system with the help of a GPS receiver that can define vehicle positions anywhere in the country. Using data in several areas for transmitting information, you can connect your vehicles with your office in order to receive processed information about the state and location of the vehicles. Advanced GPS tracking devices use additional satellite systems to ensure the location is even more accurate for your needs.
Fleet Management Software Market: Statistics and Main Challenges
The global fleet management software market is expected to reach $43.5 billion by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate of around 20.3% between 2018-2024.
The North American and European regions will dominate the market due to their growing innovations in fleet management software development. The Asia-Pacific region will be the fastest-growing region.
The rapid adoption of web and mobile-based business services in China and India is considered to be the key driver in this region.
The key factors that push the growth of the fleet solutions market are:
- Increase in international trade.
- The wide adoption of wireless technology.
Challenges that Fleet Managers Deal With
Fleet managers face the same problems that all managers do, including managing staff effectively, saving on costs, streamlining the processes, and increasing results. However, along with these big-picture problems, fleet managers have to deal with the following real-time issues:
1. Driver Safety and Productivity
When it comes to fleet management, driver safety should be a priority. It is crucial to organize regular safety training programs and regulation updates to ensure the safety of drivers, vehicles, and cargo. Preventing accidents also helps keep down costs for repairs or downtime. Fleet management software helps monitor speed and driving habits. Using GPS or speak-to-call technology helps drivers work in a more efficient manner.
2. Cost Efficiency
Costs naturally increase every year, so managing a fleet is becoming more expensive. While new tools or resources may account for some of these costs, unpredictable factors like an increase in fuel prices may significantly affect the financial aspect of the business. The more vehicles that are in the fleet, the higher the expenses. Other expenses such as insurance, tires, labor expenses, training staff, etc, grow exponentially with fleet size.
3. Fuel Cost Instability
Prices for fuel are usually volatile and are difficult to forecast. Fuel constitutes almost 35% of costs for companies with large fleets.
Many companies constantly struggle between predicting the price of fuel as well as how to reduce fuel costs. The best solution will be to reduce fuel consumption. But how can you do this? There are several ways:
- Track drivers’ performance by using fleet management software.
- Train drivers on how to drive in a way that preserves fuel.
- Keep your fleet modernized, monitor the vehicles’ conditions, and do the maintenance regularly.
Very often fleet managers underestimate fuel costs and can’t forecast future prices for fuel. Instead, it is possible to refer to a GPS vehicle tracking system that can predict the driver’s behavior and route, and therefore the fuel required.
Main Features of a Fleet Management System
There are dozens of ready-made solutions for fleet management on the market, but the problem with any kind of off-the-shelf functionality is that it is rarely fulfilling all the needs of a specific company as it was built to cover the common process for the market. As a result, these companies do not simplify fleet management, but rather have to fine-tune their existing processes to the ones which are out-of-the-box. While designing your own proprietary system allows to leverage the competitive advantages, here to name a few:
- customize dashboards and analytics to generate actionable insights into points of growth specific to the company;
- increase vehicle utilization and install the framework for ongoing process optimization;
- monitoring driving behavior provides the grounds for a purpose-built staff management system;
- bespoke system of monitoring the vehicles’ technical conditions allows keeping the fleet costs at the lowest level.
Let’s discuss a few of the key features that a good fleet management solution should have:
GPS Vehicle Tracking
One of the primary features to consider is GPS vehicle tracking. With this feature, it is easier to track information about the vehicle state, mileage, and fuel consumption, as well as the vehicle’s route, stops, and speed. Logging is a powerful feature helping to reveal efficient and damaging trends both from the business and technological standpoint.
GPS technology can definitely improve service and accountability, and reduce fuel and labor costs as well as improve overall vehicle maintenance. However, to avoid micromanagement, it’s worth establishing guidelines and policies regarding technology and tracking data usage.
Fleet maintenance helps to keep vehicles in good condition, meaning they are safe and serve longer. Fleet maintenance software usually incorporates the OBD devices, vehicle diagnostics features, and fleet telematics extensions that together work as a tool for scheduling preventative maintenance rather than repairing the broken vehicles causing a significant downtime. In a nutshell, it allows businesses to improve fleet utilization, the results of vehicle inspection, and increase the predictability of vehicle management.
Dispatch and Scheduling
To improve your business’ cash flow and overall performance, consider job scheduling and dispatching. This feature makes scheduling and resource allocation much easier. For instance, if a vehicle suddenly breaks down, you can check the schedule online and immediately replace the vehicle with another driver who is closer to the customer. This feature makes work more efficient, helps avoid delays, and also helps you be aware of the situation your fleet members are in real-time.
How to Develop Custom Fleet Management Software
It’s important to remember there is no need to build a complex system from the get-go. Start with the easy-to-use and easy-to-adopt minimum viable product (MVP), include only critical features that will boost your team’s performance the most, and then gradually add new features that match your company’s development and immediate key requirements.
The ROI should be your primary focus: select the features that will enable you to get fast results and generate steady revenue or decrease fleet maintenance cost. Even if you only partially automate processes, but this process has an immense impact on your work, it will bring your business significant improvements and benefits turning your productive fleet into a powerful fleet.
The actual process of building fleet management software can become a significant challenge in itself. That’s why it’s important to understand and evaluate the risks that can emerge during software development. Let’s consider challenges that you might face during the custom fleet management development process as well as how to overcome those particular challenges.
- Lack of expertise and miscommunication
Unfortunately, quite often an in-house software development team starts realizing that they lack understanding and technical knowledge during the development process. This is especially hard if an unexpected challenge involves the technology stack that the team doesn’t have experience with. As a result, the in-house team that delivers the product may deliver one full of bugs, or the cost grows exponentially.
Needless to say, communication plays an important role in the software development process. Whether you go for an in-house team or a reliable outsourcing partner, make sure you’re involved at each step of the process to facilitate communication.
- An unclear vision
Custom software development can be a time and resource-consuming process. For this reason, having the right plan and strategy as well as a clear vision is vital for successful project delivery.
The main goal behind custom software is to help the business generate revenue, provide a valuable service, attract more customers, and make the life of employees easier.
Often, companies don’t fully understand what features custom software solution should provide, which of them should be included in the MVP, how to create a friendly UX design, and so on. To receive answers to these questions and have a clear path from the very beginning, consider working with a custom software developer, who will translate your idea into a full-fledged product.
How to Outsource Building Your Own Fleet Management Solution
Technology will push fleet management software development, and you should be ready for the changes. If you are considering building your own fleet management software, here are a few tips to follow.
- Choose a software development company with previously confirmed expertise in developing and supporting fleet management solutions. Using web-based technologies, software developers can estimate the functional requirements for fleet management software in just a few days or even hours. To check the software developers’ level of expertise you can ask for references from previous clients to find out about the implementation experience. Also, ask your chosen software vendor how they plan to gather requirements and implement software development with a detailed estimation.
- When you start estimating the real cost of building a fleet management solution, take into consideration the planning, specification, and software development, testing, server administration, and maintenance. You should establish a budget for each stage of product development.
- It’s best to go for the Time and Materials (T&M) contract with the outsourcing development company as it gives you much better control of the budget at every stage of the project as well as the flexibility to deal with your true needs, rather than stick to a “frozen” requirements against Fixed Price (FP) contract.
- Make a list of all the features you need and write down in detail what purpose each feature should serve, decide if you want the fleet management software to be cloud-based or desktop, should it be accessible through mobile devices or if you need a separate mobile app (Android, iOS, or cross-platform?).
- Trust your software development partner with interviewing the stakeholders and users as they can discover surprising insights into your current processes and shape your solution more efficiently.
- Define the roles and user groups, make sure that each group has access limited to only relevant information, and the user experience and interaction with the software are not overwhelming, but intuitive.
- Make sure your partner provides a feasible study of the risks and opportunities together with the project estimates as well as the plan for mitigating them. There’s no such thing as overanalyzing at this point.