Three must haves in a fleet management solution
Focus on value
By John Cameron
Companies with large vehicle fleets and mobile workforces face serious demands to maximize efficiency and reduce operational costs while still managing to keep customers happy. It’s a tough challenge, but it’s the only way to stay competitive in today’s market. That’s why companies need a GPS fleet management solution to improve field service performance and mobile worker productivity, and boost customer satisfaction while reducing labor, fuel and other expenses.
Some fleet management providers supply individual components, while others offer end-to-end integrated platforms. Customers have no shortage of options when considering fleet management providers, but it’s important to understand the differences between the various solutions, in case you end up with a system that falls short of meeting your needs.
For starters, make sure all components are truly interoperable and the system is easily scalable so you can meet current requirements and accommodate future needs as your fleet grows and your field operations become more complex and diversified. Often, it is best to select an integrated, full-suite solution provider, rather than cherry pick individual components that may or may not work efficiently together as your needs evolve.
To help make the right decision, here are three key considerations in selecting a fleet management solution:
Flexibility and ScalabilityAs your business grows, so do your requirements. You may deploy a basic fleet management solution to meet immediate needs and later expand it to incorporate more comprehensive work management functionality. You’ll need a provider that can keep up with your growth without charging too much for the initial deployment. Scalability is important because it helps protect the initial investment and training, without needing to start over.
Ideally, you want to partner with a full-service, end-to-end fleet management provider that offers an "a la carte" menu of options that meet initial needs and scale up later. Modular, scalable solutions save money because you pay only for the components you need while staying current with the latest technology. They also provide targeted ROI so you can project your solution’s return on investment before adding features.
Integration and SupportIf you are running ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), accounting or other back-office applications, you will want to integrate them with fleet management to optimize operations. Integration with existing technology is always a plus because it reduces the learning curve for users. Besides, systems that run independently, and don’t communicate with each other, create complexity and extra work.
With that in mind, you’ll want a provider with an experienced in-house professional services group that can evaluate your needs and develop the best plan for integration. You want a provider that offers APIs (application program interfaces), direct data feeds, and the ability to handle custom integrations so you can use your fleet data in your existing applications.
Proven ROI and ValueThough sometimes overlooked, ROI should be a critical factor in any business purchasing decision. Ask potential GPS fleet management solution providers about their customers’ typical ROI for their solution and request specific examples. Research firm Aberdeen Group estimates GPS fleet management solutions deliver an average 27-28 percent increase in productivity and cost savings of thousands of dollars per vehicle. Expect a three-to-six-month average payback on the capital investment and up to 50 percent increase in the number of jobs completed per week. These figures could serve as a comparison benchmark to what various providers can promise.
Value goes hand in hand with ROI, and you will want assurances that your provider can support you for the long term, so choose one with a history of financial stability, growth and service reliability. Demand nothing less than uptime of 99.9 percent, which providers can deliver by maintaining duplicate data centers in alternate locations. Data protection is paramount, so you’ll want to make sure your provider backs up data regularly and stores it securely to protect your company’s private and proprietary information.
The key in selecting a fleet management provider ultimately is to focus on value, not necessarily the lowest price. Remember what’s at stake – workforce and vehicle optimization, operational costs and customer satisfaction. By investing in these goals with the right fleet management solution, you will benefit in the long run.
About the Author
John Cameron is the General Manager for Trimble Field Service Management Division.
For more information on Trimble Field Service Management solutions, visit www.trimble.com/fsm.