FACE TO FACE: JASON FRANCIS, JAAMA
New force in fleet as experts join Jaama party
Forget stealth - new software firm Jaama has opted for a full-frontal assault on the hi-tech side of the fleet market. John Maslen reports
IF the mission behind the launch of fleet software and safely company Jaama was to shake up the industry, then it is on target to achieve its aims. Within a year of its launch the firm is challenging established names in the software business and preparing for a battle royal for market position over the next few years.
And while stealth may be a useful weapon in battle, Jaama boss Jason Francis has instead opted for a full-frontal attack, including an assault on his own industry for delaying the progress of new software. He recently lambasted fleet software companies for selling 'thin air', by marketing products they had not even developed — a practice known as 'vapourware'.
Francis said: 'The knock-on effect of companies talking about products which do not yet exist is that potential buyers tend to wait and see. 'If several suppliers adopt the same approach, then the cumulative effect is an ongoing cycle of delayed decisions based upon something better round the corner.'
Francis has spent more than 20 years working in the fleet industry, including a lengthy spell as managing director of software rival cfc solutions, before he decided to set up Jaama almost a year ago. He isn't alone, having been joined by a number of former colleagues in the business, which has a £l million launch fund behind it - with an ambitious target to become the largest company in the industry within live years.
Most recently it brought in Martin Evans, previously the commercial relationships director at cfc solutions. Francis has named the company in honour of his old management team, taking the lirsl letters of the first names -Jason Francis, Andy Leech, Alex Pittortou, Martin Evans and Adrian Morris. Leech remains as sales and marketing director at cfc. Martin's appointment means he now has four out of five of the old management team back together.
Work on products has been swift, with a new suite of software already winning friends in the industry. All the products have a unique look, which Francis believes is a key part of its competitive edge. Products include FleetAssistant, a fleet management package, Key2Fleet Management, dubbed the 'ultimate management tool for cars, commercials and plant', Key2 Workshop Control, a workshop management package and Key2 Vehicle Leasing, designed for vehicle leasing companies.
Jaama's aims for its Key2 product range to cover all aspects of owning, renting, leasing, hiring, maintaining, repairing, running and disposing of cars, vans, commercial vehicles, plant and other asset-related equipment.
Jaama's flagship fleet product, called Key2 Vehicle Management, brings a range of these services together under one brand. The system has already been adopted by some of the industry's largest fleets, including contract hire and vehicle rental specialist Newtown Vehicle Rental. Newtown chose it to manage its fleet, workshops, leasing and rental operations after extensively researching the market.
But what Francis claims is unique is the inclusion of a health and safety framework for fleet operators that is designed to make it easier to manage drivers on the road and keep track of issues such as licence checks and health assessments. This is tied into a service offering health and safety training courses to companies and so far more than 350 firms have signed up to the training programme.
He said: 'Our strategy in starting this business was to follow the opportunity to meet fleet demands for help with occupational road safety. While there are services that can tell you what to do in this area, they have never been tied to fleet management software.
'There has been a complete change in the market in the past 10 years and most car fleet operators have outsourced the management function -therefore fleet management is different to what it was a decade ago.
'Everything has changed but what has not changed in that time is the fleet software used to manage the whole process.'
The pace of development has been hectic, from start to a full range of products in little over a year, but there is more to come, according to Francis. As part of the development work on its new software, the company has created what it claims is an industry leading system for commercial vehicle fleet management, which is already winning the interest of major fleets and leasing companies.
Jaama has also found the time to launch a road safety website - www. key2roadsafety.co.uk - listing the main issues that fleet managers need to be aware of when tackling how to keep drivers safe on the road -aiming to provide everything that fleet operators need to know about in one place.
Francis is especially proud of Jaama's coveted approval as a Registered Microsoft development partner and is working towards becoming a certified developer. This means the firm meets strict Microsoft training standards.
It is also using Microsoft Smart Client to help it develop its new-look software. Francis said: 'We are very proud of what we have achieved, especially considering the amount of time.'
FleetAssistant For smaller fleets. Includes fleet risk management for company and private vehicles, tracking, driver management, training, planning and history, monitoring for drivers and partners and accident management.
Key2 Vehicle Management Designed to manage medium to large fleets. Uses integrated electronic mail, SMS and fax functionality to join fleet to suppliers. Modular solution driven by process flow management.
Key 2 Vehicle Leasing Full leasing management system, including quotations, vehicle ordering, fleet management, contract control and customer management. Designed for companies ranging from 200 vehicles to more than 20,000 vehicles.