As fleet organizations grow, they commonly get to a point where they need to automate at least part of their fleet management. Whether it’s to track vehicle data, track driver information, understand utilization, manage preventive maintenance, or to automate the manual tasks associated with sharing vehicles -- they know they need more than paper and spreadsheets.
Some fleet managers try to do what may seem like a simple task: create their own system. Here are some of the reasons we often hear from fleet managers who are considering building their own system:
- We can do it better than the experts
- We can do it faster than the experts
- We don’t need all those bells and whistles – just something simple
- We need something different than what’s out in the market place
- We’ll build an interim solution and do the real software replacement later
- We don’t know what we want, but we’ll know it when we start building it
- We can build it cheaper than the cost of purchasing a solution
- We can build it in pieces so we don’t have a large capital expense all at once
- We can maintain it cheaper if we build it ourselves
- We can manage and control the product better if we build it ourselves
Do these sound like any reasons you've considered for creating your own system? While there may be a small percentage of organizations with the software development bandwidth, fleet management expertise, money, and time to build a solution, the task should not be undertaken without careful consideration. Here's why:
Are you prepared for fleet software development?
We encourage you to ask yourself: can 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 of 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. Are you prepared to tackle it?
Is a simple solution really simple?
Maybe you just need a simple solution. The truth is the list of considerations for one simple vehicle request form could well exceed 100 different topics. Will all users of the system see the same information on the form or will it be customized based on user or access privileges? What data fields will exist on the simple form? What error-checking is required for each field on the form? What will it look like cosmetically? And many more.
What’s the cost – really?
And then there’s cost. 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. 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.
Look before you leap.
If you’re ready to take on building your own solution (or if someone else is tasking you to do so!) we encourage you to first download our e-book: Fleet Management Software: Build or Buy? This e-book offers some not-to-be-missed advice from the experts that may help you bypass some very costly start-up mistakes. And as always, feel free to give us a call. Our fleet experts will be happy to help you decide.