If you are overwhelmed at the thought of launching a fleet management information system (FMIS), don’t be. Launching a new FMIS is easier than ever due to the nature of the web-based technology and the refined implementation processes offered by fleet technology vendors.
All FMIS vendors are not alike. Select a vendor that you are comfortable with… one that can describe their approach in a way that you clearly understand. A good vendor will help you understand – and better yet, they’ll help you communicate the upcoming changes to your fleet staff and fleet drivers. A vendor should not have a one-solution-fits-all approach to your implementation processes.
If you’ve never had any fleet technology before, certainly the approach would be far different than if you are simply upgrading to a better system. And, if you are making changes such as centralizing your fleet management activities after years of being de-centralized, your implementation would need to be handled differently still. Regardless of your starting point, get in synch with your FMIS vendor. Your comfort level with vendor staff should be a part of the vendor selection process.
Once you’ve selected a FMIS, do not feel like you will launch this system all at once and gain all of the benefits on day one. It is wise to “crawl, then walk then run”… as with any big change. What do we mean by that? We’ve broken it down into three simple phases.
Phase 1: Getting Started
- Believe it or not, getting the technology in place is the easy part. It no longer takes months or years to get a system in place if you have a good vendor to work with. In fact our customer Cedarville University told us: "It took us no time at all to get started and we saw immediate advantages. We now use one system instead of three." So, now that it’s in place, what's next?
- It’s never too early to start talking about the upcoming changes to your staff and drivers. Start communicating with stakeholders and let them know what’s in it for them. Remember, there are many benefits to automating fleet processes. The key is communicating the benefits that will turn skeptics into believers. For drivers, reframe the idea of sharing as a positive. Some of the benefits of sharing vehicles, for example, include access to more types and newer vehicles, easy online reservations, no more vehicle prep and PM management, around the clock access to vehicles, and more.
- With the new system now in place, and drivers interacting with the system, start communicating rules and policies that will lower costs and risks for your fleet. Good fleet policy is the most critical factor that will ensure the success of your fleet technology initiative. Don’t try to establish all your policies at once, you will continue the process in Phases 2 and 3. Consider creating a committee made up of stakeholders and others so that everyone has a say and buy-in to what your rules and policies are. (For more on fleet policies, read these articles.)
- Start collecting fleet metrics. Even one metric is a good start. If you are not sure what metrics you can collect at this phase, call us. We can help.
- Get one time-saving function in place… perhaps a preventative maintenance program for a segment of your fleet. Once you start using the system effectively you can prove the concept, and move on to the next phase.
Phase 2: Tackle the “low hanging fruit”
- In Phase 2, you’ll want to continue collecting data to get a handle on what your fleet data is telling you. Do you have too many vehicles, or not enough? Do you have the right types of vehicles? Which vehicles can be earmarked for disposal? Our fleet experts can help interpret your data for free, just call us.
- Also, take the time to survey drivers. Find out what is going well, and what may not be and make appropriate changes.
- Initiate monthly odometer collection and reporting.
- Take a look at any permanently assigned vehicles in your fleet. Are they being used to their fullest potential or can they be reassigned to the shared fleet?
Phase 3: Optimize
- Once things are running like a fine-tuned machine, it’s time to start optimizing.
- Create your 5-year plan for vehicle replacement.
- Identify policies that are working, and others that may be needed.
- If you need to implement other technology such as GPS, now’s a good time to introduce something new.
- Launch more motor pool sites or mini-pools.
- Quantify your achievements and communicate and celebrate your successes.
Still have questions about how to launch fleet management technology? For a free consultation, reach out to our experts at 408-213-9555 x1 or set up a FleetCommander demo here.