Fleet management software vs telematics: what’s the difference?

fleet management software
(Image credit: Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash)

.The fleet management industry is worth billions and continues to grow as fleet managers' responsibilities increase and the challenge to control their fleets becomes more complex. Many businesses are looking for fleet management software, GPS fleet tracking, and telematics to help their fleet managers manage this additional workload and provide them with more of a strategic input for a more efficient fleet management.

In this article, we delve into two key components of fleet management: specialized software and telematics. As both have numerous benefits, it can be confusing to determine which technology is more appropriate for your needs. That’s why we try to explain the difference between the two to help you and your fleet managers make the most educated choice. 

Spoiler tip: For best results, we recommend using a powerful fleet management software that gives you accurate GPS tracking and telematics capabilities.

What is fleet management? 

Fleet management is the organization and administration involved in coordinating business vehicles. Businesses use fleet management to effectively control the entire life cycle of the fleet, and this would subsequently allow them to improve efficiency, reduce costs, increase productivity, reduce risks, and ensure compliance with government regulations.

Fleet management can include vehicle tracking, mechanical diagnostics monitoring, and driver behavior analytics. By having a grasp of these three different areas, businesses can control their costs, oversee performance and maintenance, remain competitive in their sector, and manage customer demand and expectations.

Fleet management is the overall term that incorporates the use of fleet management software and telematics. Fleet management software is essentially a sophisticated database of information, with data on vehicles purchased, specifications, schedules for maintenance, and service history. Other information like those related to the driver, such as insurance, licenses, and tax, could also be stored within the fleet management software’s database.

Beyond just being a typical information storage vault, this is equipped with reporting tools, enabling users to generate reports and set up alerts and reminders. For example, if a car is in need of a service or a driver needs to renew their compliance documents, the fleet management software promptly sends email reminders to the manager.

In addition, the software can integrate with third-party systems, granting companies easy access to useful data at their disposal. This enables them to have a deeper understanding of their fleet, empowering them to make informed decisions.

What is telematics? 

Telematics typically involves the installation of a telematics device, commonly black boxes, inside a vehicle. This device tracks the vehicle’s location and performance and provides the fleet manager insights into the driver's behavior. For instance, it can tell fleet managers if a driver is accelerating too much or braking hard, contributing to additional fuel costs.

Operational data collected by telematics systems include vehicle speed, miles per gallon, fuel consumption, weight of load, gear, braking intensity, and driving style. In addition, some telematics systems can inform the fleet manager if the ignition is on, if a vehicle’s doors are open, and if the panic alarm has been activated. The data is sent to the company’s servers directly or to a vendor’s server, which can be accessed by the organization.

A fleet manager’s responsibilities and goals 

The primary responsibility of fleet managers is to monitor and improve the way the fleet operates. They may have different tasks depending on the size of their business, but their responsibilities can include keeping track of fuel consumption and associated costs, managing drivers, health, safety and compliance, route planning, and handling vehicle acquisition and maintenance.

In recent years, managers have had to deal with huge changes within the industry, including driver shortages, the emergence of connected, electric, and autonomous cars, continuous updates in new legislation and standards, data tools becoming more advanced, and the need to remotely monitor vehicles due to the impact of COVID-19.

The role of a fleet manager is changing in line with advancements in technology. With that, there will be more that they have to manage as time goes on, including asset management, environmental and sustainable initiatives, mobility management, and keeping track of all of this new data coming at them.

A lot of the fleet manager’s tasks are time-consuming, and it is for this reason that they may require additional support through software, telematics, and other resources.

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Fleet management and Telematics: Features comparison
Fleet management softwareTelematics and GPS Tracking
Service schedulingRecord and deliver vehicle location data to help with billing and timestamps
Maintenance historyCall centre dispatching
Vehicle specifications and parts historyDriver behaviour data – average speeds, braking, cornering – to ensure vehicles are not mishandled
Expenses reporting (fuel receipts, invoices for repairs)Route planning
Document storageTrack and report on engine hours and miles to help with maintenance schedules
Vehicle acquisition and orderingFuel consumption in real-time
Fleet policy documentsOdometer readings
Compliance data on insurance, tax and licencesVehicle faults in real-time
Operating costsGeofence alerts enable notifications within predetermined areas – this can help to monitor when a driver has arrived at and departed from a location

How can fleet management software and telematics work together?

While some organizations may decide to use either fleet management software or telematics, there are numerous benefits to using the two technologies together.

Integrating the two systems allows organizations to benefit in a number of ways, such as:

  1. Improve the way routes are planned, tracked and adjusted for future.
  2. Ability to log faults with the car to ensure that repairs are made more swiftly, which ultimately helps to improve maintenance.
  3. Send real-time alerts and notifications to drivers if they are misusing a vehicle, thereby preventing future additional costs for repairs and damages.
  4. Ability to understand driver behavior in relation to previous history, their licence, their working shifts, and other data.
  5. Level of safety is improved as drivers are aware that their conduct is being monitored and that this behavior is stored.
  6. Provide better insight regarding fuel consumption and associated costs; telematics monitoring of acceleration and braking can be used to tell a driver to slow down or stop idling. In addition, fleet managers can ask drivers to adjust their routes where fuel consumption is high, as well as ensure that they're directed to favoured (and cheaper) fuel merchants.
  7. Improved accuracy of data- telematics data would help to cut out redundant entries in fleet management databases.
  8. Using telematics and fleet management software in unison can help organizations to reduce investment and operating costs in various areas, including leasing, accounting, and IT.
  9. Efficient real-time communication via an app results in streamlined driver management, in which fleet managers get live updates regarding the order status, driver location, and estimated time of arrival.

So what should my business invest in?

There are distinct advantages for both fleet management software and telematics, but for comprehensive fleet management, the integration of both can give you a real edge. Thankfully, there are many powerful fleet management software that use the power of telematics to give you better insight into your fleet. 

This tech synergy can help several industries, including local government, oil and gas, service and repairs, emergency services, construction, and distribution. By ensuring that the two solutions work together, you can optimize your fleet and improve your company’s bottom line.

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