The Agile Fleet

Insights, ideas, & expertise for optimal fleet management

Building your own fleet solution in 2020? Don’t miss these tips from fleet managers who have already been down that road.

Posted by The Agile Fleet on January 28, 2020

Agile Fleet President Ed SmithSome organizations have the time, money, resources, and expertise to build their own custom fleet management solution and to those folks we say, “Way to go!” But we’ve found that most organizations who embark on the task of automating their fleet management processes themselves often run into roadblocks that can sometimes be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover from. If you are considering building your own solution, we thought we would offer a look at the road ahead - from the viewpoint of many fleet managers we’ve spoken to or who have come to us for help.

“We thought we had the expertise.”

Consider whether you really can do fleet software development better than the experts. Do you have a development environment? How about a test environment? Do you have all the tools you really need? Only you know the capabilities of your engineering resources. But engineering resources are only the tip of the iceberg. The task of specifying and managing the thousands of requirements that must be ultimately incorporated into software, tested, released, and maintained, takes fleet resources. That can be a tremendous drain that you must be prepared to tackle. We recommend you analyze the turn-over rate of your IT and fleet staff. The loss of a key player during a software development project may delay or cripple a project entirely.

“We thought we could do it faster ourselves.”

Years ago, implementation of fleet software in even a moderate-sized fleet may have taken weeks or months - on top of a development cycle that would be months or years. Today, using web-based technologies, fleet software vendors can offer fully-functional software for evaluation within hours or days. Standardization of web hosting environments, web browsers, and relational databases has paved the way for rapid development and deployment to fleet organizations. Some fleet software vendors can literally have an enterprise fleet application up-and-running within hours and will provide a no-cost, evaluation of the software so that you can prove the viability of the product in your environment, with your data. If you are doing it yourself, we recommend you estimate the time frame for each of the following activities when considering implementing a home-built solution: requirements, system specifications and approvals, software development, defining & refining the hosting environment, testing, and software implementation.

“We thought it would be cheaper.”

There is a perception that the cost of a product is $0.00 if you have the staff on board to develop it today. When evaluating the true total cost of building a solution, consider the hours that will go into the planning, the specification development, the documentation, the hosting and administration, and the maintenance. You should think in terms of the staff that you have today. But, also consider what the cost would be if you, or another key member of the project, were to leave in the middle of the project. Also, deal with the reality that the resources that you consume full-time may not always be available to fix or modify the system unless a consistent funding stream is available to support that person. Let’s assume you develop an initial-capability system that solves an immediate need. What are the true costs you incur for maintenance the day after the first capability is implemented? Will your development and support team be there at 5:00 p.m. if there is a problem? Are they available at night or at 6:00 a.m.?

What are the lost costs associated with the time that the support person could be doing other work? Whose time will be consumed organizing requests from users for new capabilities? When there is a server issue or security audit, who will respond to the requests for information? Who will perform testing each time a new change is made? All of these costs add up.

Other reasons for building a home-grown fleet solution that we’ve heard from fleet managers are:

  • “We just need something simple.”
  • “We can build it in pieces, so we don’t have a large expense all at once.”
  • “We can maintain it cheaper if we build it ourselves.”
  • “We just need to build an interim solution.”
  • “We’ll know what we want when we start building it.”
  • We need something different than what’s out there.”
  • “We can maintain it cheaper if we build it ourselves.”

Any of these sound familiar? If so, download our free ebook "Fleet Management & Motor Pool Solution: Build it or Buy It? What You Should Know" to learn some eye-opening consequences you may want to consider when using these reasons to embark on a fleet management information system build - and how you can avoid them. In the meantime, feel free to request a consultation with one of our fleet experts to discuss the pros and cons of building your own solution.


Topics: FMIS, Fleet Management Technology

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