Pitfalls to Avoid When Transitioning to a Fleet Management Information System
A fleet management information system (FMIS) is an essential back-office system designed to help fleet managers keep records and generate reports regarding the effective and efficient operation, maintenance, repair and replacement of their fleet assets.
But pulling and integrating data from a wide range of sources into a single system can be a daunting task. So, UFP recently asked industry veteran George Survant, currently vice president of fleet for Revolv Global Inc. (https://revolv.us), to share his expertise about how to smoothly transition to a new FMIS.
Understand Your Operation
As with anything else that will impact a fleet’s processes, utility fleet managers must consider the big picture. Before implementing a new FMIS, you’ll want to assess several factors.
For starters, determine your installation needs. Do you have enough internal resources, or will you need additional support to configure and install the FMIS?
“There is a broad array of products in this arena and, as with any sophisticated tool, the more options you have available with the FMIS, the more effort it can take to install and configure the tool to take maximum advantage of the new capabilities,” Survant said.
Fleet managers should also decide if they want an FMIS that can link with their existing accounting system, or if they intend to run the FMIS as a stand-alone function.
“Syncing internal budgets with the FMIS spend tracking can be labor intensive when done as a stand-alone, while linked systems can give you quick and easy reconciliations for metrics and reporting,” Survant explained.
Another question fleet managers will want to ask: Should the FMIS link with an existing enterprise system?
“What are your current needs that an FMIS should meet? These systems can add significant management oversight when properly configured and installed. Metrics and reporting to the general organization are key elements that you should have a clear vision of before settling on an FMIS provider,” Survant advised.
In addition, fleet managers should also consider how much user education will be required to help their team take full advantage of the FMIS.
Avoid the Temptation of Canned Reports
Once the FMIS is up and running, Survant noted that decision-makers should avoid the temptation to evaluate their fleet assets based on so-called “canned reports.”
He explained that there are two ways to look at reported data: precursor activity or post-event reporting. Much of what can be seen in canned reports is post-event reporting, when it is often too late for management to take corrective actions.
“Understand that your team’s knowledge base will rise when they use this type of tool, and the questions they want the system to answer will change as their understanding grows. Consequently, the FMIS you select needs to be able to grow and adapt as your team asks better questions,” Survant said.
He also emphasized the need to understand what level of precision your organization requires for spending management (budget versus actual) and how a well-fit FMIS can support those requirements.
Steer Clear of Short-Term Thinking
Fleets today are evolving at a greater pace than ever, and the FMIS they use needs to evolve with them. Given that, fleet managers must think long-term, particularly about the following items.
Fuel choices are changing, with low-carbon and carbon-free fuels being introduced across all types of fleets and operating locations. According to Survant, the FMIS you select must have the potential to provide the same functionality with different fuels as it does with the traditional gas and diesel products widely in use today.
As fleet operators’ expertise grows, they will likely want increased metrics options, and the FMIS should allow for that.
“Most of the industry recognizes that a cost/mile metric typically is not as useful in a fleet with high idle time as it is with a fleet that is predominantly high mileage. And this is a simple example,” Survant said.
Maintenance is another area to keep in mind when deciding on an FMIS. Whatever system you choose will need to adapt to new categories of service, Survant advised.
“For example, oil change intervals are significantly longer in new-generation products than they were in the past. Too short a service interval is an expensive decision both in direct cost and loss of vehicle availability for the users,” he said.
The ability to accurately forecast is a job requirement, and this need will only expand in the future. How well will the FMIS you select enable forecasting efforts and predictive management?
“The industry has accepted the reality that vehicle reliability is both a critical customer requirement and essential to minimizing fleet spend,” Survant said. “How well will the FMIS you are evaluating contribute to these goals?”
About the Author: Grace Suizo has been covering the automotive fleet industry since 2007. She spent six years as an editor for five fleet publications and has written more than 100 articles geared toward both commercial and public sector fleets.
- What’s New in Truck and Van Upfits for 2023?
- Pitfalls to Avoid When Transitioning to a Fleet Management Information System
- Despite the Momentum for Electric Vehicles, the Future is Still Uncertain
- ATVs and UTVs: Minimizing the Hazards
- Work Truck Week 2023 Heads Back to Indy
- Spec’ing Truck-Mounted Air Compressors
- The Latest Developments in the Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Truck Market
- ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ for High-Performing Fleet Professionals
- 6 Lessons Learned (So Far) on the Fast Track to an All-Electric Fleet
- The State of Fleet Maintenance in 2023