The majority of buyers are currently using manual methods such as spreadsheets and pen and paper to manage their fleets.
This was one of the biggest findings from the Software Advice 2014 Fleet Maintenance Management report (http://www.softwareadvice.com/cmms/fleet-maintenance/buyerview/report-2014/), which uncovers this year's top fleet management system buyer trends, including most requested features, deployment preferences and buyers' current systems.
According to the study, 60% of buyers are making use of manual methods, while 16% use no system at all. Some 13% of the respondents say they already use a fleet management system.
"We're seeing this change, however, as more affordable, comprehensive systems come out that are scalable to their needs," says Short. "The upfront cost of professional fleet management software can be too large an investment for the needs of small fleet managers. So while manual methods are cheaper, they can help introduce human error, creating costly setbacks for companies," he adds.
The study also discovered that mobile integration was one of the most requested features, along with reporting and inventory management. Of those buyers who have a deployment preference, 67% want a Web-based system.
Short explains that the mobile integration is useful for many industries, but especially industries in which managed assets vary in location.
"Being able to monitor and manipulate information in a fleet management system from any location is an extremely convenient feature for managers," he notes.
Short believes that telematics and GPS products are useful in gaining a more comprehensive view of important fleet management factors, from fuel-efficiency to how a driver operates a vehicle. Fortunately, he explains, this technology is getting better, less intrusive and cheaper.
Almost half of the buyers (48%) state they would like to purchase a fleet management system to improve efficiency or become more organised, and 23% want to begin using software to "go electronic", instead of using more cumbersome paper-based methods for their operations.
Meanwhile, 11% wanted to increase the speed of operations by reducing paperwork, and another 9% mentioned that they needed to be more proactive with maintenance issues, as opposed to reacting at the time of an equipment malfunction. Some maintenance software includes predictive maintenance functions, which monitor equipment conditions and predicts when service should be performed.
"In the past, fleet management functions were spread across different systems. With so many systems now available that offer everything in one package, it seems managers are recognising that it's a better time to invest in software than ever before," Short concludes.
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