Updating your telematics: hire a pro, or do it yourself?

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Vehicle telematics can be a real advantage in improving productivity. Where costs are high and margins are small, it’s important to coax every dollar out of the expensive rolling stock in a vehicle fleet. In 2016, Britain’s Financial Times observed that “telematics is now a vital part of fleet management.”

There has always been an economic argument in support of an integrated telematics solution, but after passage in the U.S. of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, whether to make telematics devices a part of day-to-day operations is no longer a matter of debate.

That leaves only the question of how best to implement the introduction of telematics for fleet management — or how to bring up to speed an existing system that does not include the features necessary for keeping up with the competition.

Cost will always drive this issue. But with any significant capital expenditure there has to be a balance between getting the task done with as little outlay as possible, and making sure that the investment quickly starts paying for itself.

This execution is a complex process, and it begins with identifying which system is the best fit for the organization’s needs. That alone can be a challenge. “Fleet managers often find the amount of choice overwhelming and struggle to know which solution is best for their business,” the publication Expert Fleet Management remarked.

In-house telematics experts may help

Aside from making the right selection, a fleet owner or manager who decides to undertake the installation or upgrade without engaging the services of experienced professionals will find this challenging as well. The chances for success improve if the company has its own team who are proficient in telematics or business systems management. Today’s modern telematics solutions are fairly user-friendly, and staff members with experience in hardware and software may — with a little trial and error — get the system up and running.

The case for a concentration of effort

In business today every adjustment in operating technology involves a learning curve — with time lost while the group gets up to speed. And this doesn’t take into account other potential losses: the possibility of choosing the wrong solution, or failure to configure the system for an ideal fit with the company’s requirements.

Here are some reasons why enlisting the help of a professional telematics team can be a smart move.

Analysis/assessment

An independent telematics provider has experience in dealing with a wide range of clients: large and small vehicle fleets, in various industries, in different markets. As a result, they have developed a familiarity with the differences in the ways these businesses operate.

These consultants can match up the capabilities and features of different system configurations with the demands of the client – and as a bonus, that may include existing best practices that the customer hasn’t learned.

Foreseeability

When a professional telematics team develops a system custom-designed to suit a client’s needs, they also draw upon experience gained serving similar customers. They can anticipate potential issues that may arise later on, and build in ways to meet these challenges before they become serious problems – or prevent them altogether.

Training

Even organizations that maintain their own IT or business systems staff and introduce a new telematics solution, may find these resources strained by the additional burden required for in-house training of everyone who will use the technology. A good telematics group includes seasoned trainers who can make this process go smoothly and free up the company’s technology professionals to stay on top of their own work.

Reliable support

Hiring a telematics team will create a relationship between the company and an additional support staff, that has worked hand in hand with the organization and can be tapped on future occasions. This establishes an experienced backup group to call in at any time – particularly when there’s no time to lose. A unit of telematics professionals who stay current on the latest developments in this technology is a free insurance policy that offers protection during sudden mishaps, for some time to come.

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