Choosing the right fleet management software for your business doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. With a bit of research and reflection, you have the potential to find an option that gives you the tools you need now and in the future to get ahead in your industry.
In this article, we discuss the key features of good fleet management software (FMS) and how to select the right option for your team.
Table Of Contents
Key Features Of Fleet Management Software
1) Safety Reports
After that, the software you choose serves as the foundation of all driver and vehicle safety. A good solution will allow you to monitor driving activity — often in real time — and generate reports that help you identify and prevent the leading causes of accidents on the road.
In some cases, you can automatically flag any harsh event data that comes in and assign each driver a safety score so it’s easier to separate the relevant information from all the noise.
2) Hours Of Service Tracking
Staying compliant with hours of service (HOS) regulations — those that limit the number of continuous hours your fleet operators work — can be a complicated and difficult job.
The right fleet management software can make it much simpler.
Some systems come with real-time vehicle monitoring that can help you supervise your drivers and ensure that they get the rest they need to stay compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations.
This feature may help your business reduce accidents, avoid fines, and preserve your license to operate so you can keep your fleet on the road where it belongs.
3) Fuel Consumption
Fuel costs are often the largest expense that your fleet-based business has to contend with. In many cases, those fuel costs are directly connected to vehicle idling time — instances when the engine is running but the wheels aren’t turning.
A good FMS solution can help you track and analyze fuel consumption for every vehicle (or driver) in your fleet.
With that data in hand, you can design procedures to help your operators plan more efficient routes, reduce idling time, and decrease fuel usage across the board.
4) Global Positioning
Whether your vehicles stay in town or travel across the country, global positioning (GPS) is an essential feature of the fleet management software you choose.
GPS tools can help fleet managers locate vehicles, monitor them in real time, and avoid traffic delays on their routes. Some FMS solutions even allow you to set geofences and instruct the software to notify you and the driver if the vehicle enters or exits a predefined zone.
Keep in mind that GPS is only as useful as the rate at which it updates. If the system transmits vehicle data every 20 minutes, it’s not going to be as useful a tool as a system that transmits vehicle data every 20 seconds.
5) Vehicle Diagnostics
When it comes to fleet expenses, vehicle maintenance often comes in a close second after fuel consumption.
A good fleet management software suite can help reduce vehicle maintenance costs by providing vehicle diagnostics for all your assets on the road.
In many cases, the FMS includes a component that plugs directly into the vehicle’s onboard diagnostic data (OBD) port.
Once there, the dongle automatically transmits all manner of engine and system data (e.g., coolant temperature, battery voltage, transmission temperature, etc.) to both the drivers and the home office.
Armed with that information, you’ll know when something goes wrong (or is about to) so you can prevent a small problem from becoming a large (and often more expensive) problem.
6) Route Analysis
The routes your drivers take play a significant role in fuel consumption, miles traveled, and engine wear and tear — all of which can be a drain on your bottom line if managed incorrectly.
The right FMS solution can help you and your operators analyze the routes they take (both past and present) to determine if a better option is available and plan accordingly
Such a feature can result in greater fuel and time efficiency as well as better departure and arrival times.
With those factors under greater control, your business will be able to manage expenses, driver compliance, vehicle use, and customer satisfaction with more efficiency and reliability.
7) Intuitive Interface
All the features in the world won’t help your business if the interface isn’t intuitive and easy to use.
If drivers can’t access the information they need quickly, and if you have to dig around in an endless line of menus to find what you’re looking for, the FMS can actually work against you and make things more difficult for everyone involved.
Look for software that is easy to install, easy to operate, and easy to navigate so that it doesn’t get in the way of the more important work that you and your drivers have to do.
8) Driver Tools
More advanced fleet management systems often come with driver tools that you can install on the mobile devices they take with them on the road.
Depending on the solution you choose, you may get:
- Hours of service tracking and management
- Pre– and post-trip inspection checklists
- Compliance tools
- Safety information
Look for FMS that allows you to customize the tools you roll out to your drivers so they have exactly what they need to do their job right.
No FMS system does it all, nor do they operate in a vacuum. There are always other pieces of software your business relies on to get the job done.
For this reason, a key feature of any good fleet management solution is its ability to integrate with other systems you have in place (or might choose to put in place down the road).
For example, if you already use routing software to dispatch your drivers, the FMS you choose should allow you to interface with that data so you don’t have to start from scratch.
10) Data Control
FMS systems can provide a lot of data. In some cases, they can provide so much data that it overwhelms everything else you do.
A good FMS solution will allow you to control the data so you can find, view, sort, and analyze the relevant information quickly and easily.
When you have the data at your fingertips and under control, you’ll be better prepared to improve the way your business works.
How To Select The Right Fleet Management Software
1) Identify The Needs Of Your Fleet
Not every fleet-based business will need the same tools, features, and functionality. That’s why it’s important that you identify your needs before implementing an FMS system.
Take the time to analyze the way your business works to see if there are gaps in the process that need to be filled. With those needs in mind, you’ll be better positioned to choose the right FMS for your particular situation.
2) Consider Your Industry
As you search for the right fleet management software, keep in mind that they are not one-size-fits-all solutions.
A business in the private shipping industry will use a different set of tools than a business in the taxi and personal transport industry.
At the very least, the FMS you choose should allow you to customize everything to your industry so you’re not trying to force a round solution into a square hole.
3) Find The Features That Work For You
When you know what your fleet needs to improve and you’ve identified the unique requirements of your industry, you’re ready to look at the options available to you, narrow down the field, and find the features that work for you and your business.
As you compare products, keep in mind how your business might change as it grows or adapts to market influences. Will the FMS change with you? Or, will you have to implement an entirely new system when you reach a certain level?
The best software will provide the tools you need to succeed both now and in the future.
4) Test The Customer Service Before You Buy
Before you settle on an FMS solution, test the customer service to see if it works for or against your business.
The right fit will:
- Understand your business
- Allow you to connect with them on your terms
- Respond quickly when you ask a question
- Work hard to remove roadblocks that can restrict the way your business works
- Get you in touch with the right person right away
- Provide plenty of ways to get in touch (including text, email, and phone)
If the customer service team can’t provide these services, it may cause problems later on.
Running Your Fleet Efficiently
When it comes to running your over-the-road operations efficiently, fleet management software plays a big part.
While such software can give you insight into how your drivers and vehicles are performing, your team still needs tools that can help them out in the field, such as the Coast fleet and fuel card.
The Coast fleet and fuel card provides open-loop functionality, real-time expense tracking, and a powerful online management platform that puts your entire fleet in the palm of your hand and provides full visibility of every dollar spent.
For more information, visit CoastPay.com today.