That’s right, folks, you’ve heard it before. Trucking and technology are close bedfellows. As the regulatory and manufacturing environments continue to change, technology is increasingly the answer to a vexing set of problems.
As a result, fleets are significantly investing in complex software systems. In many cases these new systems must communicate with legacy systems built before the internet era began. Even so, these systems are necessary to making operations safer, more efficient and more profitable.
There are a wide variety of applications for new advanced systems, and many fleets aren’t even scratching the surface of the technological applications available to them. So, how does a fleet manager decide what’s best for his or her operation?
Look at All Aspects
There are a number of software solutions available to address a different number of needs. But does that mean you should only use one? Broaden your horizons beyond immediate need.
For example, take a fleet choosing to implement a new software option for compliance purposes only. They are burdening their IT department with a complex new install that only does one thing. Can you find an option that handles compliance, but also assists with recruiting or human resource functions?
A fleet is constantly generating data across all operations. Instead of having single-minded focus on one problem, figure out a solution that can be leveraged across all channels. Instead of letting a department make a huge technology purchase in a vacuum, figure out how different departments can benefit, and adjust your purchase accordingly.
It’s important to talk to everybody and get a consensus on what multi-purpose option can help the whole organization. Remember to consider the pig picture and don’t end up with a single-purpose software solution
Consider Good Planning
Good planning is just common sense, right? Well, not really. When you’ve got multiple layers and different departments weighing in on a proposal, things can get rushed.
It’s important to create a comprehensive “roadmap” of how you plan on implementing the new system, and why. If you are transitioning from completely manual ways of doing things, then there are even more considerations, from interoperability to data transfers, security, buy-in and training.
Everyone throughout the organization may be using this new system, so making sure they are on the bandwagon is key to ensuring a successful rollout. Once they’ve said “I do,” you’ve got to be ready with training at hand.
Buy-In and Training
There are few things employees enjoy less than having a new system pushed on them without any prior warning or input from the higher ups. It’s simply not enough to create a good roadmap. You’ve got to make sure your staff is supportive of the project from the get-go.
Sometimes cultural changes are required. Trucking companies have been operating in a paper-filled file cabinet farm environment for decades. A full transition to screens and wireless requires a shift in thinking.
Once you’ve got everyone on board, you’ve got to make sure a program is in place to get them prepared. Up-front training is critical to proper uptake. It must be broad-based and go into good detail about how the system will be used.
Training must also be tailored to the person being trained. Obviously a truck driver will receive different training from a technician. The software has different uses, so focusing on outcomes is important.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Once you acquire a big piece of software, you will have made a serious investment. The vendor you purchased that software from should be readily at hand as a resource if you have problems. Even vendors who operate on a smaller scale can generally provide a reasonable level of support, and if they don’t, perhaps you should look elsewhere.
Does the company have a hotline where you can immediately get someone on the phone? How accommodating and responsive is the sales rep? These are questions you will want to ask yourself before you make a final decision.
Upgrading to a complex software system that touches every aspect of the business is no small matter. Whatever you end up doing, pay careful consideration to the applications and outcomes.