Fleet management software seems to come in all shapes and sizes these days, making it difficult if you’re in the market to buy fleet management software. Where do you start and how can you accurately compare different solutions on offer?
Here are six questions to ask prospective software vendors to help save you time when looking at fleet management systems. It can help you avoid choosing something on price alone, which could end up being more expensive in the long term.
1. Are they a trusted provider with a proven track record?
Technology companies seem to be springing up all over the place, and just as quickly many are going under, and leaving customers stranded with applications that are no longer supported. Research the vendor, checking how long they’ve been in business (look up background information in Wikipedia) and how well known they are in the industry. A company that is showing signs of rapid growth, such as acquiring other businesses in the industry or actively hiring, is often a good bet. Check their list of case studies to and investigate how it was worked out for other, similar fleets who are using their software. You could ask them for a list of references in your area that you might be able to follow up with to inquire further.
2. Is it web-based?
SaaS (or cloud-based software) is growing in popularity as businesses recognize the value of having web-based applications. They might already be using Google Apps for their email and thus enjoy the reduced IT costs that come with a SaaS application – minimal hardware requirements, no contracted IT staff or time-consuming upgrades. Web-based applications also provide additional benefits to consumers, particularly around remote access, data backups and portability.
3. Can it integrate with other systems?
As the number of business applications grows, it becomes more critical that your disparate systems can connect at some level, sharing common data to save double-entry, minimize errors or to promote relevant information sharing. For example, are records of dangerous driving linked to a driver’s personnel record, or are their driving hours shared automatically with payroll? Check if they have options for integrating with other systems, such as an API kit to allow for custom development.
4. Is the software easily scalable?
Every fleet changes over time, growing with the business and merging with other fleets, or offices. A fleet management system that doesn’t have scalability might work fine for 50 vehicles but add a hundred or a thousand more tracked assets and it might struggle, making it impossible to use. Check with the vendor to make sure their technology has been rigorously tested with large fleets and can easily cope as the size of your fleet expands. Software that has been designed for high-transaction environments will generally be able to cope well with a growing fleet. Also check that their software is well suited to large fleets – do they have features such as spatial clustering to group assets together or enterprise dashboards to provide an easy overview for thousands of tracked vehicles?
5. How independent are they?
Is the fleet management software vendor relying on another company for its core functionality? This could well be a weak point, depending on a single provider for something that is critical to their application. For example, some GPS fleet tracking systems are built around a Google Maps API. This can become a single point of failure, should they change their direction on how they allow their data to be used, or switching their focus away from commercial applications. Ask questions around where they source their mapping data from, and what their technology is based on.
6. Will you get value for money?
ROI (Return on Investment) is the key to every successful business decision. A positive ROI pays for the cost of installing a system so ask the vendor for calculators or case studies that can help you determine the ROI for your fleet, based on the size of your fleet or how active your fleet is. Some fleet management systems can cover the cost of implementation within a short period of around 120 days. A recent study by Motorola stated that having vehicles equipped with a GPS solution decreased travel downtime by 53% and improved employee accountability by 26%.
These six points can help you to quickly weed out the fleet management systems that just won’t cut it for modern fleets, simplifying the decision-making process and making sure you end up with a GPS fleet tracking solution that will work best for you in the long term.