10 steps to tender for telematics
Make sure you cover all bases when launching a request for proposal (RFP) for a telematics solution for your fleet, by following this 10-point checklist.
Create an RFP team
Telematics crosses several departments so it pays dividends to involve all interested parties from the outset in the decision-making process. A committee that includes representatives of finance, payroll, safety, IT, operations, fleet and HR should ensure that all opportunities for a positive return on investment are covered by the RFP.
Educate the RFP committee
Telematics solutions are frequently full of jargon, well understood by fleet managers but less familiar to other colleagues, so make sure everyone undertsands the terminology. Distinguish between journey tracking records, driver behaviour data and engine diagnostic information. Define ‘real time’ – is it every second or every minute? – and make sure the whole team understands the basics of the technology, from satellite to black box GPS tracker to the communication system that will transmit vehicle data back to the fleet department.
Define your key requirements
There are almost limitless data feeds available from sensors on vehicles, so it’s vital to identify your company’s key business requirements of a telematics system. For some it will be an improvement in driver safety and a reduction in risk; for others it might be the launch of a new service; or perhaps a reduction in costs, analysing telematics data for better route planning, more efficient despatch and reducing fleet size.
It is better to be clear about your objectives than specifying solutions, thereby giving suppliers the opportunity to suggest their own answers to your goals. Restricting your principal objectives to two or three will help to identify potential systems and suppliers, and eliminate others. If necessary, separate objectives into ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’ lists.
Talk to similar fleets
Learning the lessons of a telematics installation programme from a fleet with a similar profile can help both to avoid mistakes and to highlight issues to consider that you may have overlooked.
Establish IT requirements
Will the telematics data have to feed into other corporate IT systems, such as payroll for business mileage reimbursement, or operations for delivery times? Make sure all data can be supplied in a format that is compatible with fleet and other software used by your business.
Decide on reporting formats and frequency
There is a real danger of drowning in data, so specify the reports you need the telematics system to generate, how often you need them, and the level of detail you require – is a red, orange, green traffic light system of alerts and notifications sufficient or do you need deeper levels of information? Are weekly driver behaviour reports adequate? Do you need to know the location of vehicles every second, minute or hour, should this information be updated on a map and, if so, how frequently?
Identify and invite suppliers
Background research and discussions with fellow fleet managers will identify telematics companies that have experience in dealing with a fleet like your own. International coverage, financial stability, pre- and post-implementation support and training are all issues to consider. Good communication with your supplier is essential from the outset.
Set service level agreements
Specify the areas of the supply contract that will make a fundamental difference to your business, such as the robustness of the hardware, the accuracy of the data, the data security of the platform and GDPR compliance.
Verify the scalability of the technology and service
Can your potential supplier cope with different types of vehicles (electric vehicles do not have the same on-board diagnostic ports of internal combustion engine vehicles, for example)? How easy is it to update the telematics software and bolt on add-ins (and what evidence is there of this)? How would the supplier provide a solution in new countries?
Run a trial
Select a significant number of vehicles and run a pilot scheme, ensuring that the installation process is smooth, the technology works and the data reports are delivered in the right format and the right timespan. This is the chance to check that sales pitch promises are genuinely delivered, to identify any niggles or pinch points in the system, and to start engaging stakeholders in your own business before committing to a national or international roll-out of the system.