Fundamentals of Fleet Software - Fleet World April 2007

THE   FUNDAMENTALS
 
As the fleet manager faces growing pressure to run a fleet that is cost effective, meets Best Practice guidelines and complies with environmental and Duty of Care responsibilities, software is increasingly being used to provide the framework in which these demands can be met. Over the last 10 years, fleet software has become far more sophisticated and can benefit a number of different areas, from simple licence checking through to sophisticated risk, fleet and fuel management solutions. The latest development is to offer web-based systems for easy and quick implementation for fleets of all sizes. Such technology can help achieve substantial bottom line savings while ensuring that the company and individuals are meeting their requirements under the 2006 Road Safety Bill and the forthcoming Corporate Manslaugher Bill.
 
 
THE  TERMINOLOGY
 
User acceptance testing. Carried out as part of the implementation of new software, this ensures it meets needs and that operators have been properly trained.
Multipler user networking. This functionality is essential for medium to larger fleets where more than one person may be accessing and using data from web-based software.
Multi currency / multi lingual solutions. Such solutions can be essential for pan-European or global fleets dealing with currency or language barriers.
Open architecture. This is used to describe systems that can be easily interfaced with existing technology such as fuel card technology or accounting software.
Interfaces. Connections between fleet software and existing systems.
Scheduled event tracking. This function can be used for event management, such as servicing and maintenance.
Exception reporting. This can be used to highlight any data that has not been supplied in time or does not meet agreed parameters, for example missing driver licence infor­mation or a vehicle that requires servicing.
 
THE CHECKLIST
 
- Look at your objectives - are you looking for a fleet and/or fuel man¬agement solution or do you want facilities to implement and monitor risk management and check licences?
 
- Does the software need to be interfaced with existing technology, for example accounting software, fuel cards or the company's own intranet?
 
- Identify how you will be using and accessing the software-will it just be at one computer or will you need access from multiple computers or from any location ? If so, consider the benefits of web-based solutions.
 
 
- Draw up a list of your reporting requirements. Your fleet needs are likely to be entirely different to someone else's and you need a solution that can tailor reports to meet requirements.
 
- Try to factor in any future fleet or company-wide plans such as planned expansion or changes to administration or management methods.
Look beyond traditional company cars - are there employee car ownership (ECO) vehicles or staff vehicles driven on company business that need to be factored in?
 
- Don't just judge potential suppliers on initial costs - look at how comprehensive their systems are and how much they can simplify your existing processes. Ask for testimonials from previous customers.
 
- Remember that the data held by such systems is highly sensitive for both the business and individuals. Consider what levels of security may need to be factored in, particularly if the software is being accessed by a number of individuals, for example drivers.
 
THE QUESTIONS YOU NEED TD ASK ABOUT FLEET SOFTWARE
  • Do they offer an Internet-based service?
  • Does the system provide a workshop management module?
  • Does the system include a vehicle order tracking function?
  • Is the system suitable for multiple-user networking?
  • Does the system provide variable access/security levels?
  • Does the system permit electronic download of data from suppliers?
  • Can the system be used to transmit multiple text messages to drivers? 
  • Does the system allow users to design their own reports?
  • Does the system have any special risk management features?
  • Does the system incorporate a fuel management module?