The Challenges of Managing A Fleet With Spreadsheets

  • Published on Jun 06 2019

Neo Yiangou

Founder, New Service Development

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We look at ‘spreadsheet fleets’ and the benefits of using fleet management software.

Often it is portrayed that larger fleets are the ones that have adopted specific fleet management software running into hundreds, even thousands, of vehicles. Smaller fleets might rely on recording and reporting on a more traditional spreadsheet and paper-based management style. There are a considerable number of larger fleets that only rely on spreadsheets for fleet management and to continue managing their operation.

There's the saying,' if it's not broken, don't try to fix it' alongside consensus,' we've always done it that way,' which often brings resistance to change with it. While those logistics services, or any other company with mobile workforce, running smaller fleets say about 10 vehicles, maybe right in guessing that perhaps the cost would outweigh, there are fleet managers with a greater number of assets that still lack the benefits. These managers could potentially put their fleet at risk both operationally and financially due to limitations that spreadsheets can provide.


Managing a fleet using spreadsheet 

Despite a fleet's size, spreadsheets such as Excel remain many fleet managers' choice. Fleet management spreadsheets have some advantages, however, and these may incorporate.

Low costs of implementation.

- With limited knowledge, easy to create and manage.

- Good general employee knowledge of using spreadsheets.

- Relatively easy to input data, but there are some serious flaws in the use of spreadsheets for fleet management.

Here are a few of the limitations that spreadsheet fleets' of this kind can face: 

- Limited features and reporting capabilities.

- Records are not proactive but reactive.

- Data input delays may result in the circulation of dated information for decision making and reporting.

- Increased data inaccuracy risk due to input errors, unauthorized writing, and missing or incomplete documentation.

- The tendency to design and create 'in-house' spreadsheets that may limit reporting functions.

- Limited ability to integrate with external service providers.

- Time-bound input, scanning, and filing paper-based forms manually.

- Increased time for administration to complete processes such as checking the driver license.


What are the benefits of using software rather than spreadsheets? 

Fleet management software manages from procurement to decommissioning all aspects of a fleet. And neither does this management process stop at vehicles; some systems can manage all assets, including sales people and trailers/containers, within a business.

Within one central system, specific software keeps information about a fleet.

This may include the following:

- Vehicles, assets, and equipment:

Record, allocate and manage any vehicle or asset in your operation. 

- Fuel and emissions:

Manage fuel transactions of your fleet, spend and use tools to identify the best type to reduce costs and emissions. 

- Drivers:

Improve driver visibility and management to reduce risk and ensure compliance. Moreover, instant communication without getting to worrying about accidents but also, records of all actions between company and drivers e.g from creating tasks to allocating, tracking, reviewing and rewarding, everything is set in an easy to use and integrated environment!    

- Compliance:

Ensure the completion and storage of essential paperwork and documents for real-time. 

- Accident:

Reduce the risk of accident and tracking purposes.

Systems offer other features, which are parts of accounts to perform tasks including reordering, rescheduling of tasks. It is possible to automate many processes and reporting procedures that reduce administrative duties and boost operational efficiency. System capacities go beyond spreadsheet capacities to assist fulfill compliance processes and manage hazards such as detecting poor driving conduct or reducing idling time.


Choosing software for fleet management–what should you consider? 

So, you made the decision to include software for fleet management in your transport and logistics operation, but you were unsure where to start. That's amazing! It can be a minefield to decide on a fleet management provider, especially with so many to choose from.

Which one is best for your business, how do you decide? Any system you choose needs to perform in terms of functionality, usability performance to the best of its abilities for you.


Is it possible to manage a fleet using only spreadsheets?

Where are you going to start? 

A great place is to compile a list of exactly what you want in terms of what you need to do from a system.

Here are a few things to help narrow down your selection:

- Ease of use:

This is the most important factor you need to take into consideration. Is it designed to be easy to use even for non tech-savvy users? Many companies fail to introduce a new “methods of doing business” to their employees due to this lack which can creates even a gap between the generations. How many interactions are required by the user in order to get the deserved result?

- System size and scope including scalability:

Need a solution consisting of juts to key and most necessary modules such as CHENZON GPS Fleet Management or a more tailor-made solution at the full enterprise level with useless features?

- Availability of training and method of teaching:

Check whether this is available in the first place and whether it is based on classrooms or a provision for accessing online training manuals, videos, and guides.

- After sales support:

What does it look like and does it support your needs? Check the hours that support is available and if it fits your operation needs should a problem arise; Confirm if they offer a live support (via TeamViewer or Skype) or any other live support channel.

It can be a very useful exercise to initially narrow down which system providers might be the best fit for your business to carry out desktop research. Comparison websites are another useful reference point as you have already done much of this work. Such sites also provide useful tables listing key features to assist in selecting appropriate providers at a glance.

Look for a supplier that regularly updates and upgrades its systems as well as keeping up with the latest industry needs. If you fail to do this, your system may soon be out of date and miss vital reports needed to help you manage a fully compliant operation. Changes in legislation, product developments, and new business best practices may soon affect your system's suitability.

Arrange for a demonstration of their system once you have your shortlist of potential suppliers to gain the first-hand experience of what it looks like, how it works, ease of use, and if it does what you need it to do for your fleet.


Is it a big task to move from spreadsheets to software for fleet management?

Switching from spreadsheets to software packages can be a major task, but through the use of an established provider, specialist project managers, and software experts will manage the processes.

Immediately after your data is imported into a system, you will soon be getting the benefit that fleet management software brings including reduced administrative tasks, improved visibility across the entire fleet and a smart reporting system to help you generate efficiencies and cost savings, delivering a return on your investment.

Look for a provider that also invests in the development of a continuous product. The fleet management industry is constantly changing as new laws come into play that can affect your system and what you need it to do. There's nothing worse than buying a piece of software and finding out that it's out of date in a very short space of time.