10 steps to a successful telematics programme
The classic business school quote attributed to management guru, Peter Drucker, changes slightly according to sources, but the message is always the same – 'If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Improve It'.
Telematics is the finest tool for measuring the on-road performance of both vehicles and drivers, but without a coherent plan of what the investment is looking to improve, a fleet department’s time, effort and resource will go to waste. Follow these guidelines to get the most from your telematics programme:
- Establish the objectives of investing in telematics. Is it to improve fleet safety, drive down insurance costs, cut fuel expenditure or enhance customer service? A good system will creat a virtuous circle that delivers all of these benefits, but it’s vital to be measuring areas that will provide actionable data.
- Appoint an ‘owner’ of the system, responsible for analysing the data on a daily basis. This expertise is vital to maximise insights from the data.
- Find a telematics system that integrates with your fleet management software – don’t waste time reconfiguring your fleet management system to accept telematics feeds.
- Run a trial of the new system to check it delivers the data and reporting you need to achieve your goals.
- Involve drivers and explain how this is a tool to improve their safety and the financial performance of the business (securing their jobs). Emphasise that it’s not a ‘spy in the cab’.
- Introduce the system division by division or location by location. Clustered data from vehicles performing the same task or operating in the same environment is the most useful for comparisons.
- Create regular (weekly or monthly) reports on key performance indicators, such as excessive speed, harsh acceleration and braking. Use exception reports to identify the drivers who trigger most of these incidents – they are reliable indicators of a higher risk driving style. Make sure driving performance reports are fed back consistently to drivers and their line managers, with appropriate follow-up action taken.
- Have in place a programme to improve the behaviour of under-performing drivers, from online training to classroom-based sessions and even in-vehicle coaching. The goal is improved performance rather than discipline.
- Track and compare the fuel consumption of vehicles over thousands of miles. It’s a good indicator of driving styles – higher risk driving will have lower economy - and can also deliver significant cost savings by eliminating vehicle idling.
- As journey data builds up, use it as a basis to investigate better route planning. This can help to avoid duplicated trips in overlapping sales or service territories, as well as reduce the number of ‘empty load’ journeys by delivery vans and heavy lorries.