Cloud technology is currently revolutionizing how a number of industries operate. The freedom and interconnectivity of these products is driving change in businesses of every size.
By nature, vehicle management lends itself well to cloud-based systems. Since a fleet is constantly in motion, the various tasks, employees and records incorporated can become complicated or fragmented for any size business. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at how new online solutions are changing vehicle management.
In breaking down the basic responsibilities of vehicle ownership, it is easy to see how things can get complicated in a hurry. If your car doesn’t tell you to take it in for service, when should you put it on the schedule? Where do you store maintenance history? What about tracking fuel expenses? Finally, how do you make sure your tag, insurance and payments are all taken care of in a timely fashion?
Suddenly, the glovebox seems wholly inadequate. Sure, you might be able to get by waiting until the check engine light comes on, responding to your mail in a timely fashion and ignoring fuel or service receipts. But a little effort can save you money, as well as provide a little peace of mind. After all, who wants to be unexpectedly out a few thousand dollars and broken down on the side of the road?
When a business depends on a stable of vehicles and equipment to get the job done, the challenges compound quickly. Take the headaches associated with having one car and now multiply that by tens, hundreds or even thousands. And unless you are personally operating all of these assets, then employees need to be licensed (possibly DOT compliant) and involved in the process.
Traditionally, companies have approached fleet management tasks in a variety of ways. Some invest in an enterprise software system and pay a hefty amount for a custom solution. Training, installation, and regular maintenance would be required. Otherwise, those looking to proactively manage their fleet (many do nothing), rely on a scattered array of spreadsheets, file folders and shared calendars.
In the last few years, however, companies adopting products like Xero, Google Apps, Salesforce and other cloud-based software are seeing benefits that can also be applied to fleet management. A number of online solutions for fleet management have gained traction and are gaining momentum. With online storage, easy access, unlimited users and more, it is becoming increasingly easier to not only stay on top of vehicle-related responsibilities, but to also make informed decisions that can help a company’s bottom line.
A number of features and integration options are very much adding to the appeal of upgrading to fleet software. Email notifications bring maintenance reminders to the inbox of whoever should know. These can be set to deliver when activities are due soon, due and overdue. Essentially, once preventative services and their intervals are established for each vehicle, a comprehensive system allows you to take a set it and forget it approach. It will do the work for you.
The ability to store vehicle information, purchase documents, receipts, images and more online is a huge win for fleet management. DOT compliance is also made much easier when a driver can pull up service history, important documents or photos from anywhere or any internet-connected device. With nothing to download or “seats” to purchase, a few products also allow you to add as many users as you want at no additional charge. All totalled, this allows for fleet operations to be a much more collaborative activity.
For most companies, the best way to manage fuel purchases is through a fleet-specific credit card. These fuel card products have customizable settings to only be usable at the pump, service station or convenience store. Fuel cards have been around for a while, but when integrated with online software, records can be sent directly from the pump to the cloud. Fuel economy is calculated for each fill up and the ever-important cost per mile metric (also accounting for service costs) is updated accordingly. This actionable data can help a company quickly see which vehicles are operating inefficiently.
In addition to logging information, setting maintenance schedules and automating fuel reporting, the cloud also allows for tracking vehicles from anywhere. Online GPS solutions can show real time information or historical data. Alerts and geofences can also assist in regulating driver behavior. This is a great way to insure that expensive assets are being used appropriately.
Cloud-based software is changing the way individuals and companies manage their vehicles. As already proven for other business functions, online options provide a convenient and practical solution for what was previously a scattered array of tasks. Largely thanks to the cloud, the fleet technology space is projected to grow tremendously over the next decade.