The benefits of effective software reporting tools for fleet managers
Avoid information overload with this guide to measuring and managing your fleet operations
Developing a strong understanding of everything that’s happening within your fleet provides you with a better chance of reducing your costs and improving efficiency and productivity of your company’s operations. But just how do you gain that level of knowledge? The answer is simple – through fleet reporting.
Business Intelligence (BI), a term used frequently, is a technology-driven process for gathering and analyzing information and then presenting it in a way that generates actionable information to help make informed decisions. For fleet managers, the challenge isn’t in gathering the information but more a case of knowing which information is relevant and for what purpose. Generating a robust reporting capability can help fleet professionals accomplish that goal.
Developing an effective fleet reporting system
First things first, you need to ask yourself the right questions!
Fleet software can contain vast amounts of information, some of it relevant and some not so. The first step is to determine what actual information you need to create the fleet management reports that will enable decision making. Making the mistake of having too much information can lead to numerous reports, the results of which can be (and often are) overwhelming.
So, how do you determine what is actually useful and relevant? The skill lies in recording only the information that is really necessary and to report on the areas of the business that can be influential in improving efficiencies.
As a starting point, the following questions are worth considering:
What management or business process do the reports need to support?
Are the reports required to answer specific questions at a given point in time or form a longer term trend analysis?
What information needs to be included in the reports and which areas of the operation can they be located?
Can some of the information within the system help in other areas of the business?
With this in mind, it is essential that you are fully aware of the fleet reporting capabilities of the software.
Managing and reducing costs
Reports that provide an in-depth understanding of costs and their influence on other areas of your fleet’s operation provide an opportunity to create efficiencies.
Digging deeper, it is possible to use fleet reporting capabilities to find ways to lower capital costs such as acquisition, financing and depreciation. Reports can also help with making decisions on the impact of borrowing, leasing vs. buying fleet vehicles, and tax advantages (or disadvantages) over a vehicle’s life-cycle.
The operational costs of daily fleet activity can be easily reviewed. An example of this is a report on fuel expenditure that helps control vehicle expenses, mitigating the impact of a range of factors, from market price fluctuations to tax implications. Such a report can also be beneficial when considering alternative fuel types for your fleet.
There is great value in using cost reports to analyze maintenance and repair expenses, in real time and over long periods. For instance, reports can pinpoint how parts pricing can vary depending on the vendor, location and purchasing programs. The cost of labor rates and service agreements with outsourced providers is another area for review.
Improving fleet performance
Visibility into your fleet operation is a key factor in your ability to recognize the areas that efficiencies can be driven across the organization.
There is a need for standardized information and the fleet reporting tools to make sense of complex information. Advanced fleet management software is key to automating such a reporting structure, which in turn produces its own efficiencies, reducing paperwork and the administrative time taken to filter the information for collection and analysis.
With such software, information across the operation is consolidated into one single platform that can be accessed by multiple users. By inputting only the information considered necessary to make those all important business decisions, the opportunity to make significant improvements to the efficiency and productivity of a fleet can improve too.
The benefits of reporting through fleet management software
The reporting capabilities of specialist fleet management software are numerous. Here are a selection of some of the reports that you may want to generate from five key areas of the fleet:
Keep a check on all of your vehicles from one easy to use platform. Reports on how they are being used and the costs associated with each can be tailored to your specific needs, but the most commonly utilized include:
Vehicle inventory by manufacturer, model, fuel type and mileage
Vehicle costs including service history
Purchase or lease expiration’s
Vehicles can be kept roadworthy through the planning and tracking of servicing and repairs on your vehicles. Downtime, particularly unscheduled, can have a negative effect on fleet with many companies putting the cost at over $700 a day! Vehicles that are frequently unavailable due to failures can be monitored, costs tracked and ongoing suitability for the fleet determined.
Scheduled and unscheduled maintenance records
Schedules and frequency of vehicles needing servicing
Work orders on hold awaiting parts
Vehicle downtime reports
Direct verses indirect (outsourced) labor costs
Fuel is one of the biggest financial outlays for any fleet and needs to be tracked and monitored. Diesel has been the preferred fuel type for many fleets, but incentives such as reduced taxes associated with greener, alternative fueled vehicles requires careful analysis of all options available to determine best value. Software management provides improved visibility of fleet fuel costs which can help reduce costs.
Total costs by fuel type
Average mileage per fuel type
Fuel theft alerts
Year To Date total and current spending
4. Safety and Compliance
A robust fleet reporting structure is essential in evidencing that systems and processes are in place for auditing purposes, demonstrating safety and compliance. Having a digital trail of compulsory policies and procedures that have taken place and been actioned in accordance with the authoritative bodies that govern them is of a great benefit to a fleet manager, representing company competency.
Reports of all vehicle inspections and defect reports
Accident status and repair estimates
Driver training records
Driver license checking
5. Fleet operational costs
Fleet management systems can produce reports in real time, providing an instant snap-shot of where a fleet is against targets and objectives. An excellent finance management tool, costs can be broken down and analyzed to uncover discrepancies and areas of inefficiency; these in turn can be actioned to generate cost savings and minimize waste.
Total fleet operational costs
Fleet costs per mile
Fleet miles per vehicle
Total fleet operating costs by month
Fleet spend by expense type
To conclude, fleet management software monitors and manages operations which reduces costs, improves efficiency and ensures that the fleet is compliant, regardless of its size.