7 Types of Software Every Fleet Should Be Using to Maximize Profit

February 11, 2020

We all know the old saying, "You need the right tool for the job." This is true in life and logistics. When it comes to modern software tools, I've identified seven types that every fleet should be using to maximize profit.

Operational velocity is the game. The logistics industry proves that time is money every day.

Today we'll review these seven types of fleet management software that can help maximize profit and mitigate loss:

  1. TMS (transportation management system)
  2. ELD (electronic logging devices)
  3. GPS (global positioning system)
  4. DMS (document management software)
  5. Mobile document capture
  6. Automated billing
  7. Driver workflow

The software market can be hard to monitor and keep pace with. There's a lot of information to sort through, especially when considering both sides of the profit and loss equation.

With that in mind, let's dive in.

TMS

Fleet management is about managing the details. A good TMS can help you save a tremendous amount of time and money by automating non-value-added detail management.

It's starting to feel like TMS platforms have been around forever. If you don't have a TMS yet, or you think it might be time to upgrade your existing TMS, there are a few rules of thumb I like to recommend:

  1. Is it cloud based?
  2. Does it integrate with other cost-saving add-ons?
  3. Is it the right size for your company and your fleet?
  4. Don't wait, just dive in and acclimate.

Fleet managers' familiarity with TMS platforms has increased with each passing year. But there have been plenty of changes along the way to be aware of. For instance, the ELD federal mandate is something we all must be familiar with.

ELD

Electronic logging devices aren't new. But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted an ELD rule that's congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21.

I recommend familiarizing yourself with the FMCSA website to review the ELD rule. You may find that you already have a software platform tracking hours of service (HOS) that satisfies the new requirements.

The ELD rule is intended to create a safer work environment for nearly every type of commercial driver. The intent of the ELD rule is to make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share data on a driver's hours.

The FMCSA has a list of approved vendors for ELD hardware and software. Along with checking out that list, I recommend the following when considering an ELD:

  1. Double-check that your existing software satisfies the requirement.
  2. Find an ELD that integrates with your TMS.
  3. Familiarize yourself with ELD's hours of service rules and enforcement procedures.

Although change in general can bring the headache of a learning curve, the ELD rule doesn't actually change much. For instance, the current HOS restrictions remain unchanged. To think of the ELD rule another way, it provides a reason to assess your existing workflow.

When you reach an inflection point, ask yourself whether there are any best practices you can integrate around your ELD.

GPS Integration

For example, there's a good chance your GPS platform can integrate with a compliant ELD. The idea that tech happens in cycles is highlighted when it comes to GPS.

GPS is the eye in the sky, and it was one of the first tech features the logistics industry incorporated. But nowadays GPS plays a significant role as the underlying framework of several types of logistics software, including:

  • Routing
  • In-cab navigation
  • Smart fuel
  • ELD

GPS is a classic example of how an integrated system can make your life easier. That said, the focus of GPS is primarily on the driver. On the other hand, what about the back office?

DMS

These days, the concept of a paperless office is becoming mainstream. Everything is going to the cloud. If we're looking at best practices, document management software (DMS) is an area where you can streamline your operation significantly.

Specifically, you want document management to be secure, online, and cloud-based. However, a paperless office isn't just about archiving data. To that point, there are several considerations when selecting your DMS:

  1. Does your DMS interface conveniently with your TMS?
  2. Does your DMS work with different digital file types, including office software, technical plans, images, design, handwritten notes, and old file formats?
  3. Bear in mind, any DMS will require document capture software.

As we move toward paperless offices, selecting the right DMS becomes crucial. But before you can manage your documents, you must have clear documents.

Mobile Document Capture

Your mobile document capture software is the fundamental component of the paperless office. If you don't have reliable imaging, you don't have reliable data. For that reason, I would invest in high-quality imaging software.

Imaging has been one of the more difficult areas to master for tech companies. It's made more difficult when you consider that driver proofs of delivery and bills of lading are notorious for being rough quality. Thus it becomes a matter of return on investment.

Every extra step that your mobile document capture can eliminate is time and money saved. These are the features I look for in imaging software:

  • Perfect scans and auto-enhanced images
  • Ability to read handwriting
  • Barcode scans
  • TMS integration

The quality of your imaging software will determine the efficiency of your paperless office. When you have the right software in place, it can save you time and money.

Automated Billing

Automated billing is one essential way to streamline your back office workflow and save money. In reality, automated billing should be an included feature of your imaging software.

Also, if your imaging software integrates with your TMS, then you can automate the billing process. Specifically, you can set it up so billing is triggered immediately when a driver sends their delivery scan.

Automated billing saves hours of staff time and makes the workflow far less tedious for the billing department. And when you reallocate those same staff resources to other activities, it improves worker satisfaction and helps the bottom line.

To summarize, these are the key features to look for in automated billing software:

  1. TMS integration
  2. Customizable preferences
  3. Elimination of manual data entry
  4. Consolidated invoicing

The beauty of automated (or rendition) billing is that it will roll several processes into one click of a button at the point of delivery. This eliminates redundancy and back-office manual data entry.

Driver Workflows

Of course, all of the software ideas we discussed today can help streamline driver workflows. Previously, the logistics industry relied too heavily on individual drivers.

Overall, driver error—and the constant threat of driver error—was a major pain point to fleet managers of the past. Thankfully, software has come along that simplifies a driver's workflow and improves the life of a fleet manager. Consider how much pain these tech advancements have relieved:

  • GPS and smart fuel
  • Perfect scan document capture
  • Mobile imaging and one-click send
  • Final mile assistance
  • Telematics software

Much of a driver's guesswork has been removed from their workflow, which has eliminated vast numbers of check calls. And that frees up time. In this way, small acts of continuous improvement and efficiency will add up and affect the bottom line.

Closing Thoughts

Today we outlined the core considerations when looking at the logistics software market. As a fleet manager, you must know, welcome, and integrate the best software you can get your hands on.

In other words, greater efficiency, greater velocity, and greater customer satisfaction mean decoupling from preconceived notions about fleet management software.

Remember, the end goal every day is continuous improvement. Today we reviewed seven types of fleet management software that help maximize profit—TMS, ELS, DMS, GPS, mobile document capture, automated billing, and driver workflow.

In conclusion, every fleet manager must constantly consider the profit and loss equation. And every fleet manager knows they need the right tool for the job.

But as soon as the right software tools are in place, the questions get better. For instance, what can we build when we work smarter and harder?

This post was written by Brian Deines. Brian believes that every day is a referendum on a brand’s relevance, and he’s excited to bring that kind of thinking to the world of modern manufacturing and logistics. He deploys a full-stack of business development, sales, and marketing tools built through years of work in the logistics, packaging, and tier-1 part supply industries serving a customer base comprised of Fortune 1000 OEMs.

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