Which One Should You Choose: A Ready-Made or Custom Fleet Management System?

Anyone that operates a transportation or logistics company has to manage multiple vehicles and this can be very time-consuming. With today’s technology though, fleet management solutions facilitate corporate fleet management and make it more convenient and far less time-consuming.

What Does a Fleet Management System Do?

Fleet management software (FMS) is designed to manage, organize and coordinate fleet operations to improve efficiency, reduce costs, manage a company’s mobile assets around the clock from anywhere and respond quickly to market trends and customer needs.

To ensure the commercial and financial success of a business, the best fleet management software performs a wide range of functions including GPS fleet tracking, which enables driver monitoring, ensures compliance with government regulations (e.g., electronic logging device (ELD) compliance), and organizes fleet assets and the company’s drivers.

FMS collects real-time data on vehicle operation, and it processes, monitors, and exports the data to provide fleet management with all the needed information to organize fleet operations for maximum efficiency. The data is received from telematics and GPS trackers installed in company vehicles, and it is processed with the help of database information software and GPS fleet tracking software.

Vehicle management systems encompass fleet software for managing drivers, dispatchers, and vehicles in the fleet, fleet tracking systems (which work with GPS fleet tracking devices installed in the vehicles), fleet maintenance software, and fuel management software.

The Most Common FMS Features

  • Dispatching, scheduling, and routing – this feature ensures that all jobs are delivered in a timely fashion as it allows you to adjust schedules, locate the most efficient routes, and maximize dispatch capabilities.
  • GPS tracking and real-time visibility – ensures your fleet management team knows what is going on with any vehicle in the fleet at any time. Various GPS tracking devices, including trackers and telematics, provide information about a vehicle’s location, its condition by checking RPM and fuel consumption and engine fault codes, and miles traveled through mileage tracking. This provides driver and vehicle location information to all stakeholders, such as fleet managers, dispatchers, shippers, and customers.
  • Cargo optimization – helps to utilize resources efficiently and integrate operations by planning and managing cargo, facilities, equipment, mobile assets, and workforce.
  • Fuel management – allows fuel consumption and cost monitoring, which helps fleet managers identify poor fuel efficiency so they can take the necessary steps to improve performance.
  • Driver management – allows you to track driver records, performance statistics, behavior data, certifications, and licenses. This feature allows the fleet management team to see risky driver behavior, and it highlights areas for additional training.
  • Vehicle information and inspection management – FMS solutions store fleet information related to vehicle specifications, maintenance history, and performance history. The information stored in the system allows you to monitor and maintain strict compliance with electronic inspections and issue management systems.
  • Security and safety – fleet safety management tools allow a company to protect their vehicles and drivers with the use of vehicle theft notifications, emergency roadside assistance, and remote monitoring. Telematics allows you to monitor driver arrival and departure times, speed, braking, and other crucial details, which leads to lower insurance costs and it protects fleet operators from false claims. This feature also allows you to assign temporary or permanent “no-go zones” to restrict vehicles from traveling through or to unsafe areas.

What Kind of Business Needs FMS?

FMS is used in a wide range of industries worldwide. It is used by international airlines to coordinate flights, food suppliers to dispatch cargo, taxi companies to dispatch cars, public transportation companies to manage buses and trains, and manufacturing companies to keep track of trucks with supplies. If your business operates vehicles or mobile assets through logistics, using the suitable FMS will make a difference.

A fleet management system provides your company with information that impacts organizational decisions at all levels, and significantly improves day-to-day operations and the financial success of your business.

According to a survey by FMS provider Teletrac, 55% of respondents were able to reduce costs and keep assets and drivers safer due to driver monitoring (32%), speed prevention (26%), and fatigue monitoring (30%), all of which are common features of fleet management software.

Transportation companies can benefit from utilizing FMS by reducing costs through fuel management, reducing equipment downtime, and optimizing routes. Fuel costs account for almost 40% of fleet ownership expenses, and monitoring of fuel consumption and fuel optimization can reduce your company’s fuel costs by up to 25%. Fleet maintenance management software also allows you to avoid serious breakdowns and predict the best time to order spare parts thus reducing the downtime and losses associated with it. Real-time route planning using GPS fleet management allows you to save both fuel and the driver’s time, thus saving the company money and improving the customer experience with timely delivery.

Field services can benefit from utilizing features of FMS such as vehicle tracking, work schedules, vehicle dispatching, driver safety, inventory, billing, and accounting. Shareable GPS tracking can also enhance customer satisfaction and improve customer service due to timely delivery.

Financial institutions can also make use of FMS for better visibility and control of their mobile assets. For example, it can track and monitor cash-in-transit (CIT) vehicles and provide the safest and the most efficient route, manage fleet operation costs, ensure timely maintenance, and compare fleet performance with competitors.

Cargo and delivery companies can streamline their business and turn FMS features into a business differentiator by using all the features that truck fleets management software offers such as real-time fleet visibility, cargo optimization, timely deliveries, effective fuel management, driver management, and safety, ELD compliance and more.

The needs of businesses can significantly vary. Some businesses may need to manage a single large internal fleet, while others may deal with multiple third-party contractors or crowdsourced fleets, so their needs will vary greatly as will the FMS features used. Your choice of fleet management software should align with your business needs.

Ready-Made or Custom Fleet Management System

There are two main roads you can take when it comes to FMS software. –You can choose ready-made FMS offered by numerous providers, or you can engage an automotive software company to develop a custom FMS. We’ll tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of both types of fleet management software so you can choose your path.

Pros and Cons of a Ready-Made Fleet Management System

Typically, an FMS includes both hardware and software, and it contains a set of features necessary for effective fleet management. The key features include route optimization, driver profiles, and safety features, but there are also unique and useful extras that can be helpful for your particular business, like dashcam integration, geofencing, and employee time management for easier payroll processing. Ready-made or generic FMS can be a good choice if you need to introduce a system right away and have a simple business process or a limited budget.

Pros of a Ready-Made Fleet Management Solution

  1. Constant updates – the software provider performs updates to add new features and fixes to its product and help you retain customers.
  2. Lower costs – an FMS user usually pays for hardware upfront and software on a monthly or annual basis. The price depends on the number of vehicles and the size of the fleet. The price of software development does not have to be factored into the budget.
  3. Easy integration – ready-made solutions are developed in a way that makes them easy to integrate into the business processes of various companies. Generally, the software provider offers training for FMS users.
  4. Available as Software as a Service (SaaS) – Cloud-based SaaS transportation software has become more popular due to the ELD mandate, and also because it allows better access for users as they can access business data from anywhere through a desktop computer or mobile apps.
  5. Suitable for general purposes – ready-made fleet management solutions contain standard features that can be used by a variety of industries. If your company’s budget does not include money for the development of a custom solution, you can always adjust your business processes to fit the generic software package.

Cons of a Ready-Made Fleet Management Solution

  1. Lack of flexibility in functionality and design – you only get features that are already part of the software. If you need something different or customized, you’ll have to wait until the provider develops it and adds it to the software. It also has a standard design and most generic vehicle fleet maintenance software products allow only limited customization.
  2. Security risk – fleet-wide hacks can pose serious risks to a business. Timely discovery of security holes in devices, software, and updates, as well as training, can pose a big challenge. The encryption policies, security validation, and system infrastructure are things you must keep an eye on.
  3. Support and customer service – timely access to support and customer service can be crucial, but not every provider offers 24/7/365 support services.

Pros and Cons of Building a Custom Fleet Management System

Many automotive software development companies offer standard solutions, which are good for general-purpose operations. But if you know the ins-and-outs of every facet of your operation, you will realize that your business processes may be too complex to be changed to fit a ready-made fleet management solution, and the development of a custom fleet management software might be the best solution.

Custom FMS is built to meet particular needs and satisfy a client’s specific business processes. You don’t have to change your business routines, methods, and strategies to fit a new management system. On the contrary, this kind of software solution is designed to enhance the advantages of your established business processes.

Pros of a Custom Fleet Management Solution

  1. Suitable for specific purposes – in the case of custom FMS, all the features are designed to perform optimally for your company’s business processes. The scope of features will accommodate all the requirements of your company.
  2. Scalability – you can add different features and functions as your company needs them. You decide what, when, and how you update the software. You can also control and manage the project cost and scope, and define the phases of product evolution and schedule of development.
  3. Control of the source code – you are the owner of the source code and you can make the decision to sell or modify the software.
  4. Custom system design – you define how your user interface (UI) will look and you decide whether it is convenient and user-friendly for your employees. Additional features Real-time visibility, driver management capabilities, fleet dispatch and planning software, machine learning, driver performance, and retention solutions can be added in accordance with the requirement of your fleet and the needs determined by performance and data analysis.

Cons of a Custom Fleet Management System

  1. Cost – the price tag of a custom FMS can be high as customization of features requires more work.
  2. Time – custom development always requires more time than an out-of-the-box solution, as custom software is built taking into account your specific needs and business processes as well as existing systems and infrastructure.

The fleet management system is something that will serve your fleet business for a long time. Choose wisely to make sure your money is well spent.

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Maxwell Travers, Content Contributor
Maxwell Travers, Content Contributor