What Is Fleet Management?
Managing even just three company vehicles can be a massive headache. Keeping track of things such as scheduled maintenance and registration is a hassle. So is taking all of your vehicles’ associated costs and using that information to guide future buying and selling decisions, as well as piping that data directly into your accounting system to process expenses. When more than three vehicles enter the picture, you simply can’t manage them all without some form of outside help. That’s where fleet management software comes in.
In basic terms, fleet management software is designed to perform a diverse set of tasks regarding all of the vehicles your company is using. It can, among other things, help control costs, improve efficiency, keep drivers accountable, and generally help companies make sense of how their vehicles fit into the bigger picture of their business operations. Because industries of all kinds rely on cars, trucks, vans, and the like to deliver their goods, fleet management software is adopted by companies of all kinds and sizes.
Most fleet management software comes in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, meaning the vendor hosts the application in the cloud and deployment in your business is simply a matter of signing up for the necessary number of accounts. Your users then log in through a standard web browser, which can make using alternate devices, such as smartphones and tablets, easier.
When you’re listing important features to look for in fleet management solutions, task management is surprisingly high on the list. Depending on what kind of business you run, you may have dozens or even hundreds of vehicles out in the field. Keeping track of which employees are performing what tasks using these vehicles can be a major headache if you’re just using Microsoft Excel. As a result, most fleet management tools on the market today offer task management functionality that lets you create tasks, assign drivers and other staff to the task, and set a due date. These features work in a similar fashion to a dedicated collaboration tool such as Asana.
Some tools let you create more detailed tasks than others. Avrios, for example, lets you name the task, give it a due date, and attach a vehicle to the task. On the other hand, task management is one of the core design focuses of Onfleet, and this tool lets you specify whether the task is a pickup or dropoff, specify a quantity, and put an estimated service time on it. Depending on who is using the tool, your desire for how detailed you want tasks will vary, so be sure to research all of the options in our review roundup.
If you have a lot of vehicles and drivers out in the field, then that means you have thousands if not millions of dollars in assets out in the wild and prone to all sorts of problems. If you want to be able to check in on vehicles and drivers at a moment’s notice, then you’re in luck. The majority of fleet management software provides a map view of your fleet in which you can track vehicle movement in real time.
Vehicle tracking is done in a number of ways. Most tools, such as Fleetio and Onfleet, track activity through a mobile app that you have your drivers download and set up on their end. While this allows the tracking of things such as a vehicle’s location, speed, and direction, it cannot automatically track detailed information such as engine status, odometer, and battery status. For those, you’ll need a tracker that plugs into the vehicle’s diagnostic port. While some tools, such as Fleetio, support integration with these trackers, Teletrac Navman Director and Zubie are the only ones we’ve tested to date that include a device with a subscription. While it may be more expensive, managers who want granular data on vehicle health will want to consider these over a solution such as Onfleet, which only offers location tracking through a mobile app.
In addition to looking at the field, one novel feature in several tools we tested is a Drivers Leaderboard module that ranks your drivers’ performance based on things such as total working time, the number of times the driver aggressively accelerates, and the number of times they hit the brakes too hard. Employees who drive sensibly are placed at the top of the leaderboard, and you can see problem drivers on the bottom so that you can reprimand any incoming problems. So far, we have seen this feature in Editors’ Choice pick Fleetio and also in Zubie, and we’d love to see it adopted elsewhere.
Vehicle Health and Reminders
Monitoring the overall health of your vehicles is another important part of fleet management. This includes keeping track of routine maintenance, being aware of wear and tear, and fixing engine problems when they occur. As mentioned earlier, having a diagnostic device tracker can automatically record this data for you. If you’re willing to have your staff put in the data manually (and save a little money in the process), then Avrios and Fleetio will let you create reminders to check on these things, and then enter the results into the system via a desktop or mobile app.
Cost Control and Reports
Procuring vehicles and hiring drivers is expensive to say the least. Spotting inefficiencies in the fleet and fixing those problems is key to making sure your business stays profitable. All of the fleet management tools (except for Onfleet) include some sort of report functionality that gives you an overview of all the costs associated with your fleet. Avrios and Fleetio, in particular, are great tools for this because they give you hard total cost of ownership (TCO) numbers when it comes to a vehicle’s overall cost per mile (CPM).
Teletrac Navman Director and Zubie are the clear winners when it comes to cost calculation, simply because they come bundled with a diagnostic port tracker. Being able to record and track this information automatically makes it worth the extra cost for managers who want true tracking control. You can integrate a third-party device with Fleetio as well, but this comes at an extra cost.
Best Fleet Management Tools
Those looking for fleet management software have a lot of great choices. We found plenty to like in each of the tools we tested, and the truth of the matter is that each tool would be ideal for a specific audience. Ultimately, we encourage you to look at each tool in this review roundup and make your purchasing decision based on your unique needs.
With that in mind, some fleet management software is better suited for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) than others. We liked the task management features and usability of Avrios, but it lacks the vehicle tracking features of its competitors. We were impressed by the robust feature set of Zubie, but the extra tracking capabilities come at a cost that some companies won’t be willing to pay.
Onfleet begins at $149 per month for 1,000 tasks, and to get the full feature set, you need to pay a whopping $1,999 for the top-level plan. On the other hand, Avrios begins at just $1 per month per vehicle, and goes up to $9 per month per vehicle depending on how many features you want. There are companies that may find the pricing structure of Onfleet to be perfect for them, but the vehicle-based pricing structure of most fleet management tools makes it a lot friendlier toward smaller companies that are looking for a product that can easily grow with them.
We found our fleet management Goldilocks, then, to be Fleetio. It offers a nice variety of features and vehicle tracking, plus it begins at just $3 per vehicle per month. This balance of functionality and price makes it our pick for Editors’ Choice in fleet management software. Simply put, Fleetio is the best choice for the majority of businesses.
No Size Fits All
There are many different tasks that fall under the umbrella of fleet management, and your ideal platform will depend on what’s most important to you. If you’re looking to create and track assignments to maintain productivity, then you may appreciate the task-focused design of Onfleet. If your main goal is to stay on top of vehicle conditions, then you’ll want the diagnostic-infused functionality of Zubie. Editors’ Choice Fleetio is likely going to make most businesses happy, but fleet management casts a wide net of functions and goals, so read our reviews carefully before making a purchasing decision.
Pros: Track drivers via mobile app. Adding drivers, vehicles, and other information is a breeze. Track just about anything regarding your fleet that you’d want.
Cons: User interface can be daunting at first. Reports lacking visualization.
Bottom Line: Fleetio is a fantastic fleet management platform that seeps into every aspect of your company’s operations. The amount of data to handle might be overwhelming at first, but its handling of all that information makes it a winner in the space.
Pros: Extremely easy to use. Robust feature set. Task management tools make workflow management a breeze.
Cons: No vehicle tracking. Entering data can be cumbersome.
Bottom Line: Avrios is extraordinarily useful in handling all of the administrative tasks involved in managing a fleet. Just don’t expect any vehicle-tracking features.
Pros: Detailed vehicle tracking thanks to included diagnostic device. Integrates with dashcam video. Compliance features are rare in a solution of this kind.
Cons: Too expensive for many businesses. Vague pricing structure. User interface could be a bit smoother. Reports not as visual as competitors’.
Bottom Line: Teletrac Navman Director is a powerful fleet management system that offers a full view of your fleet’s operations. However, all of its extra features come at a cost.
Pros: Extremely easy to use. Diagnostic trackers collects more detailed vehicle information than most.
Cons: Expensive. Reports could be more visual. Entering new vehicles and drivers can be a chore.
Bottom Line: Zubie is more expensive than other fleet management solutions, but it is also incredibly detailed and easy to use.
Pros: Modern user interface (UI). Easy to set up and use. Impressive reporting features.
Cons: UI has some readability problems. Does not track detailed vehicle information. Odd pricing structure.
Bottom Line: Onfleet has some decent reporting features. It also wins points for usability. Those looking for a more traditional fleet management software will want to look elsewhere, though.
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