A Comprehensive Guide to Fleet Tracking Systems
Fleet management software allows you to carry out specific tasks that are related to the management of your fleet. Fleet management is not only for fleet tracking, but also includes all the processes starting from vehicle acquisition, to maintenance and upkeep, to vehicle disposal. A fleet management software gathers, stores, monitors, processes and creates reports from external sources to help you manage tasks and events.
Fleet management is deployed as a Web based solution, as an installed software, or as a mobile app or a mobile Web site.
1. Web Based or Fleet Management Software as a Service (SaaS)
Web based software is available for use anytime anywhere, as long as you have a browser and an Internet connection. Most of the time, a Web-based fleet management software is offered as a software as a service (SaaS) solution.
An SaaS solution is a software that is rented out to the user. On top of the convenience of being able to access and use the software anywhere you may be, you get to use the software without installing anything on your machine. As such, you get to use the latest version of the software without having to pay to have it upgraded, and you do not have to pay to maintain the software. You do not need to install, configure and backup your software too.
Another advantage of using Web-based software is that it is very secure. The fleet management service provider takes care of all security issues and patching vulnerabilities. You are also relatively safe from hardware failures and data corruption.
Plus, depending on the service provider, it might also prove easier to integrate Web based fleet management software with other software that are based on open source standards. And as far as compatibility goes, you will not have problems with hardware incompatibility when you have a SaaS solution.
And you get all of these without needing to hire an IT team. More savings on your financial resources!
If Saas or Web based fleet management software is rented out to the user, installed software is bought outright. Like all other software that you have on your desktop computer, you would need to buy or license it, and then install it on your computer. An installed fleet management software may also be developed in-house.
As such, you would need to update and upgrade the software yourself. That means that if the developer comes out with a patch or a version upgrade, you would need to roll it out yourself.
Sounds like a lot of work? Maybe so, but some companies opt for fleet management software that is installed for a variety of reasons. Some of these are:
- They need features that no Web-based fleet management service provider can give them. The thing with using SaaS software is that you often have to wait for your much-needed feature to be included into the package. You are sharing the software with all others and a provider is more likely to add a feature that a lot of companies are looking for. If you need something that is unique to you, it would be very difficult to add that in because you basically have no access to the software’s code, nor could you add to it without paying a hefty sum to the provider.
- They have a team of talented IT professionals. There are times when building a fleet management software makes sense, especially if the company has the team to do it. On top of that, they do not have to worry about maintaining, upgrading and revising the software.
- They want to keep their data private. Ownership of data is a gray area when it comes to SaaS. For companies that want utmost confidentiality for their data, it might make more sense to keep the software in house, rather than transmit it over the Internet.
- Furthermore, you get utmost control with an installed software. You do not have to worry about the SaaS provider going out of business or going offline.
Because smartphones and tablets are now everywhere, it is reasonable to expect that like other business and productivity tools out there, fleet management software is also going mobile. You can use your mobile browser in order to access a fleet management software while you are out of the office and on the go. You can also download a mobile app to do the same.
Using your mobile browser might be convenient, but depending on the software developer’s efforts in making sure that their Web site is mobile ready, it might not provide all the functionalities available on the desktop version. Or it may give you a lot of problems, such as too much scrolling or too small text sizes. In short, it might be difficult for you to use a mobile browser and get the same experience as you can on a desktop.
A lot of fleet management software developers offer mobile apps for their services. A mobile app helps make it easier for you to access your data and it usually makes use of mobile friendly gestures and buttons, making the entire experience much more fulfilling for the user.
4. Free Hardware
With the cost of tracking devices dropping over time, there are now companies that offer free hardware in exchange for longer contract periods.
You basically get the tracking device free if you sign up for the fleet management software they are offering for the long-term. There are a lot of reasons why companies do this. The market is now becoming saturated with more and more new companies coming in and offering cheaper prices on both the tracking devices and the fleet management software. If you want to save on the hardware costs this might be a good option for you.
Contracts are beneficial to the provider. It helps them lock in the customers that they already have. Because of this, even with new players coming in, they will still have you as their customers. Contracts also allow them to get better deals when they are negotiating for equity or debt financing. But most practically, a long term contract allows providers to offset the cost of the tracking devices and other hardware costs.
Remember, however, that a long term contract would mean that you would be stuck with the fleet management software provider for the next three to five years, so it helps to fully evaluate it first before signing anything.
5. Top Fleet Tracking Apps
Some of the top fleet tracking apps available today include the following (you can view our source infographic here):
Teletrac. Teletrac is used by 22,000 customers, translating to more than 200,000 users. Teletrac’s Fleet Director allows you to locate your vehicles, as well as have easy access to data analytics, create the most efficient routes and help you with compliance, safety, fuel efficiency, productivity and other benefits. It is a Web-based software that provides you with these data:
- Vehicle diagnostics
- Smart navigation, compliance and messaging tools
- Business intelligence
- Safety analytics
- Two-way messaging
- Mobile alerts
- Driver logs
ManagerPlus Software. Around 100,000 users utilize ManagerPlus Software for their fleet management. The software has three deployments: mobile, Web-based and installed. ManagerPlus gives you an easy way to schedule preventive maintenance, manage parts, track tools, manage work orders, manage inspections, and of course, track your vehicles. Choose from three different editions: Small Business, Enterprise and Corporate.
TomTom. TomTom is used by 30,000 users who want to get location data on their vehicles, while also allowing drivers to avoid traffic jams. You can quickly update orders, send the details of the job to your drivers on the field and get reports on real-time locations for your vehicles. It has both Web-based and mobile deployments.
Geotab. Geotab is used by 140,000 users in 10,000 companies. The company has its GO devices, which are plug and play tracking devices and a Web-based software that allows you to get both real-time and historical trip information and turn it into actionable items. It offers a comprehensive set of features, such as:
- Accident Tracking
- Dispatch Management
- Driver Management
- Fuel Management
- GPS Integration
- Inspection Management
- Inventory Management
- Maintenance Scheduling
- Maintenance Tracking
- Mileage Tracking
- Motor Pool / Daily Rental
- Parts Management
- Tire Management
- Tool Tracking
- Vehicle Information
- Vehicle Tracking
- Work Order Management
Fleetmatics. Fleetmatics is trusted by 23,000 users. The Web-based software helps you locate your vehicles, while also helping you get more savings from operating costs and lesser fuel use. With Fleetmatics, you can also deploy your vehicles to respond to customer calls. The software can also help you in driver management, maintenance scheduling, routing, mileage tracking and vehicle tracking.
Telogis. Telogis has 32,000 users and 4,000 customers. It can be accessed via mobile phones and devices and on the Web. You can get a full range of location intelligence features, including accident tracking, driver and dispatch management, inventory and inspection management, maintenance scheduling and tracking, mileage tracking, routing, tire management, vehicle information and work order management.