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Fleet Management Software

Fleet Management software gives fleet owners an overall picture of their vehicles.

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Fleet Management Software Buyers Guide

Fleet management software describes software solutions that help fleet business owners, managers and decision-makers with the day-to-day management of their fleet. This can include tracking fleet operations, analysing fleet performance, and maintaining vehicles. The software can be valuable to business owners in a wide range of industries and fields where a fleet of vehicles needs to be managed and maintained, with some of the most common examples including delivery or courier service providers in areas like food, retail, and eCommerce.

Through effective use of a high-quality fleet management system, business managers and fleet managers can track or monitor driver performance and behaviour, optimise routes, locate specific vehicles within a fleet, assign specific tasks to drivers, schedule maintenance work, monitor expenses related to fuel, tax and maintenance of vehicles, and manage several other areas linked to logistics and vehicle or driver availability. Some fleet management solutions are aimed at businesses within a specific industry, such as food delivery or courier services. However, other options are much more generalised and can be used by virtually any manager of a fleet business or department.

In terms of its core functionality, fleet management software can be categorised alongside several similar software solutions, like field service management software and transportation dispatch software. The broad range of options available means it can often function in place of route planning software and GPS tracking software too. In some cases, fleet management solutions can also be integrated with these similar tools if they are already in use.

Precise features within software solutions in this category can vary, and this is especially true if the solutions are geared towards a more specific industry. Nevertheless, there are several features which help to define the category, along with some features within the vast majority of high-quality solutions. In general, users will be able to carry out the following actions when using fleet management software:

  • Assign jobs or tasks to specific drivers, and then monitor their location and progress via real-time tracking
  • Use GPS tracking to see the current position of all vehicles, along with their destinations and other key locations
  • Monitor traffic, and plan and optimise routes so that journeys are as efficient and cost-effective as possible
  • Manage a workforce, including schedules, driver availability, driver performance, and other key information
  • Maintain vehicle records, including maintenance histories and fuel usage, and schedule future maintenance work

What is fleet management software?

Fleet management software is software packages that assist managers or other fleet business leaders with day-to-day operations. In general, the software can help owners, managers and other key decision-makers with the management of a fleet. This can include managing the workforce itself, assigning tasks to individual team members, monitoring the progress of jobs, managing the fleet of vehicles itself—including scheduling maintenance work—and recording fuel usage and past maintenance work.

Ultimately, software for fleet management can help businesses optimise performance and improve efficiency. For instance, the location of individual vehicles can be continuously tracked using GPS technology, and routes can be planned out and amended to maximise speed and avoid unnecessary delays. Furthermore, the software can help organisations ensure their vehicles are in peak working order, while financial information can also be recorded and analysed.

Some other information that can be managed through fleet management software includes tax records and driver logs, while the software can also be valuable for compliance purposes. Although software in this category can be used by any business with a fleet of vehicles to monitor and manage, fleet management solutions are more common with delivery and courier businesses in the food, retail and eCommerce sectors.

What are the benefits of fleet management software?

The benefits of fleet management software are potentially far-reaching, as the software can optimise everything from the financial performance of a business to the performance of individual drivers. Beyond this, the software can help with planning and logistics, help to ensure vehicles are well maintained and provide up-to-date information about the progress of a driver carrying out a specific task. With that being said, some of the most significant benefits linked to the use of software of this kind will allow users to:

  • Track vehicles and optimise availability: One of the major advantages that businesses using fleet software can capitalise on is the ability to track vehicles within a fleet and optimise availability. These benefits can manifest in several ways. For instance, jobs can be allocated in such a way that at least one vehicle is always located close by, reducing delays. Beyond this, maintenance information can be monitored, preventative actions can be taken to avoid problems, and companies can avoid situations where vehicles are unnecessarily out of service. Keeping a full fleet operational and adopting a strategic approach to job allocation can ultimately ensure there is always a vehicle available to be used if a new job comes up or if a business experiences a sudden spike in activity.
  • Boost financial results by reducing costs: Another significant benefit of fleet management software is its ability to track and manage costs related to fleet operations. As an example, most high-quality solutions will allow fleet managers to track fuel usage and manage related costs. Additionally, it will usually be possible to manage relevant tax information and monitor costs associated with vehicle repairs. All of this allows trends to be identified, and viewing a breakdown of expenses can help alert fleet managers to specific areas of poor financial performance. When all this information is brought together and easily accessed, it can make it much easier for managers to optimise a financial strategy, reduce costs and improve overall financial outcomes.
  • Take steps to monitor compliance: Businesses operating a fleet of vehicles often have several areas of compliance that need to be managed, and this can include managing tax payments, ensuring vehicles and drivers are fully insured and managing the roadworthiness of each vehicle, including ensuring they pass an MOT test. Managing all this information for a fleet is complicated, and details can easily be overlooked. Moreover, this difficulty becomes greater with larger fleets or businesses with a large workforce. Through an effective fleet management system, businesses can avoid accidentally overlooking important actions that need to be taken to ensure the business is fully compliant with rules, regulations and legislation.
  • Improve driver performance and behaviour: Businesses operating a fleet of vehicles also need to gain a firm understanding of how their employees are performing and whether there are undesirable behaviours that may need to be addressed before performance can be fully optimised. The GPS tracking component of fleet management solutions allows business owners and other decision-makers to oversee what drivers are doing and understand whether some drivers have performance issues that need to be addressed. There is a time tracking function within many software applications in this category, and this is significant as research shows that 25% of businesses are now using time tracking software to understand the amount of time spent on tasks, monitor performance and motivate employees to improve efficiency or alter other behaviours.

What are the features of fleet management software?

The features of fleet management software assist the managers and leaders of fleet businesses with overseeing day-to-day operations. Some of these solutions are aimed at specific industries, while others have a broader target audience, and this can mean that some of the features can vary from one program to the next. Yet, there are some core features seen in almost all software packages of this kind, and some common features found in the vast majority of options. In general, the following are regarded as core or common features:

  • Dispatch management: Assign jobs or deliveries to drivers and then track progress. Most software solutions in this category will allow tasks to be outlined and allocated to an individual driver or placed in a pool so that a driver can pick the job up once available. After a job has been allocated to a driver, software users can monitor progress and access updates on whether a delivery has been completed, what time the delivery occurred, and more. Not only is it important for fleet business owners and managers to know the current status of a delivery job, but this information can also help provide updates to customers too.
  • Route optimisation: Create and amend routes for drivers and determine the optimal route so that the job can be completed efficiently, safely, and reliably. Routes can be planned by viewing important information, including levels of traffic on the road, average journey times using that route, and the various deliveries that need to be made along the way. In many cases, this information can be tracked in real-time, allowing decisions to be made at the moment, for maximum efficiency. Other factors may also need to be considered when planning journeys, including fuel consumption and vehicle capacity. Users can plan out routes in advance, adjust the planned routes as more information becomes available, and share this information with drivers.
  • GPS tracking and telematics: Utilise GPS tracking to check the precise location of any vehicle in a fleet, as well as its relative location when compared to the delivery destination, the fleet's base of operations, and more. GPS technology allows for real-time and accurate location tracking. Furthermore, this technology can provide customers with up-to-date information on where their delivery is and when they can expect it to arrive. GPS technology can obtain telematics data, such as the average fuel consumption during a particular route, average fuel consumption over a set distance, average fuel cost, and the average amount of time spent on the road by a particular driver. Using this information, fleet business owners can gain a much more complete sense of the current state of play and what they can expect from their fleet in the future.
  • VIN lookup: Search for vehicles by utilising their vehicle identification number, or VIN for short. A VIN is a unique code or identifier which can pinpoint a specific motor vehicle. Within fleet management, software that allows users to search for a VIN can be vital for managing individual vehicles and finding important information. Some of the most common examples of details that can be found when using VIN lookup functionality include the year the vehicle was produced, the manufacturer responsible for producing the vehicle, the name of the model, and vehicle specifications. Having easy access to this information can allow decisions to be made about the current state of a fleet and makes it easier to differentiate between different vehicles in the fleet, too.
  • Employee management: Manage all relevant information about the employees driving fleet vehicles. Employee management functionality allows users to oversee information about employee availability, and this allows for more robust scheduling. Once a schedule has been created, this information can be referred to at any time to determine which employees will be working at a specific time. Adjustments can also be made to this schedule if employees are sick, opt to swap shifts, or become unavailable for any other reason. The employee management component of fleet management software also allows performance to be tracked, contact details to be stored, and in some cases, payroll information to be stored and managed.
  • Fleet tracking: View important information about the current state of a fleet, and the individual vehicles within it. This can include performance information from each vehicle, the distance that has been travelled, fuel usage, and any records related to repairs or preventative maintenance. Having this information readily available allows for a comprehensive analysis of the performance of a fleet and the current status of vehicles. Fleet tracking of this kind also allows decisions to be made about replacing older vehicles or adjusting strategies.

The Capterra fleet management software directory allows users to search for the ideal solution by filtering out options that do not include required features. As a result, buyers can start the search for a fleet management solution by viewing the options most likely to meet their requirements.

What should be considered when purchasing fleet management software?

When purchasing fleet management software, many different aspects need to be considered. Ultimately, buyers need to be sure that they are acquiring the best possible solution for their specific needs. A good way to approach this is to work through some key questions, determine the answers to them, and try to pinpoint where the main areas of priority are. Some examples of questions to work through include:

  • What third-party integrations are available? Fleet businesses can be complex, and there are likely to be multiple other software solutions that need to be used, with examples ranging from accounting software to customer relationship management or CRM software and workforce management solutions. Ideally, businesses should try to seek out solutions that can be integrated because this makes it much easier to share data between applications. In the process, it also reduces unnecessary data duplication and can make processes far more efficient because there is less need to switch between applications. With this in mind, buyers should think about the different integration options that are available and then try to select the best software for use alongside existing software.
  • How much does fleet management software cost? The cost of software always needs to be considered before making a purchase. With fleet or vehicle management software, it is important to try to think of this issue in depth because it is likely to be core software, relied upon every day. Of course, the initial price of the software is only one thing to consider because software acquisition should be viewed more in terms of value. After all, it is better to pay more for a better product, as long as it remains within the agreed budget. However, it is also vital to think in terms of the longer-term costs and any hidden costs too. For example, how much is the software going to cost to install and set up when issues like data storage are factored in? Are there going to be costs associated with accessing support or keeping the software up-to-date? How much will it cost to train all employees who need access to the software to use it effectively? With cloud-based solutions, there is also going to be a need to consider the long-term costs linked to the service subscription fees.
  • What is the best software deployment option? Next, it is crucial to think carefully about the best option for software deployment. There are two main categories to be aware of, and both have pros and cons. On-premise software is the most established option and involves the buyer acquiring the software licence, installing the software on their systems, managing data themselves, and handling all aspects of data security. Upfront costs are high because the software needs to be purchased outright, and the infrastructure needs to be put in place. However, long-term costs are relatively low, if unpredictable, because there are no ongoing subscription fees. By contrast, cloud-based software is deployed by a third-party provider on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis. The buyer pays an ongoing subscription fee, and the software is deployed remotely using cloud technology. Data is handled by the provider, as is cyber security, and support is continuous for the duration of the subscription. Upfront costs are extremely low, and the software can be accessed remotely on a wide range of internet-enabled devices. Although there is a lower sense of personal control and there are longer-term costs, it is usually the best option for situations where a fleet management platform needs to be accessed by remote workers or from multiple locations.
  • Can the software be scaled up and down? Another vital consideration is focused on the scale of a fleet business and whether the software can accommodate changes in that scale. For instance, will the software still be useful if the fleet size doubles? Will it remain useful if the fleet size is cut in half? Are there any potential issues with scaling up and down in this way? Some solutions are aimed at smaller businesses, and if there are plans to scale up considerably, it may be best to avoid these solutions. Likewise, some solutions are geared towards large businesses and may not have the level of detail needed to manage a much smaller fleet. Think about how suitable each software solution is for the business in its current state, but also for the business in any future states that could feasibly exist, as this will help ensure the chosen software is future-proof and sufficiently flexible.
  • Is ELD or tachograph compliance possible? In Australia, commercial and goods vehicles are legally required to have a working digital tachograph, while in other parts of the world, electronic logging devices are a requirement. This is another area of compliance that fleet businesses need to give the appropriate level of attention and consideration. In terms of fleet management software, it is important to invest in a solution that complies with relevant mandates. Furthermore, this will help businesses avoid unexpectedly encountering compliance issues further down the line and potentially risking fines or other penalties resulting from non-compliance.

The most relevant fleet management software trends are another aspect that needs to be understood and factored in before reaching an eventual purchasing decision. Buyers want to know that the software they invest in will remain useful for the foreseeable future, and for this to be possible, it needs to have been designed with an awareness of industry trends and specific trends that are relevant to the software of this type. In particular, some of the major trends that are worth researching before buying fleet management software include:

  • The internet of things (IoT): Across many different industries, the internet of things is helping to revolutionise technology and fundamentally alter how data is collected, and this is also true for businesses operating a fleet of vehicles. A growing trend within the industry is the use of vehicles that are fitted with IoT technology, and this allows for the transmission of real-time data from the vehicle to the business. The potential for this is almost endless, but it includes providing businesses with the ability to gain valuable insights into specific driving behaviours, which may include how hard a driver is on the brakes of the vehicle, how long the vehicle is idle, and even data related to gear changes. When software is designed with this technology in mind, it allows for the very advanced collection and analysis of data. From there, it becomes easier to provide tangible feedback to drivers, alter business strategies, and accurately predict when maintenance may be required and what that maintenance work may entail.
  • Remote and mobile access: Another important trend to focus on is the rise of remote and hybrid work models, and the ever-growing need for mobile access to the software. On the first issue, more and more businesses are providing employees with the option to work from home or other remote locations, and these employees still need to be able to access all of the core software. For fleet managers and other leaders in fleet businesses, this means having remote access to fleet management software, and this is a major plus point associated with cloud-based solutions. However, mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, are becoming more integrated within modern workplaces and this can require mobile access. Again, cloud-based software will often have mobile accessibility built-in, but some solutions may also offer companion mobile apps. Regardless of approach, the software needs to be accessible on mobile devices and genuinely useful on those devices. This requires mobile optimisation so the user interface works on a smaller screen.