29 Nov 18

Still relying on spreadsheets for fleet reporting? That's risky business.

Is using Spreadsheets and paper to manage your fleet vehicles, instead of a dedicated fleet management software system, risky or cost-effective?

Chevin Fleet Solutions has revealed concerns over the number of businesses still relying on spreadsheets or paper-based reporting to manage their fleets.

The company said it often encounters large fleets using outdated processes and systems and that doing so is a risky strategy.

It’s hard to imagine a business process these days that is not run on a technology platform. Harder still to see the benefits of such a system (other than its resistance to power cuts). However, Chevin’s unease that such scenarios exist suggests there must be benefits. We decided to do our own analysis.

What is the core of your business?

Paul Hollick, chairman of ICFM (Institute of Car Fleet Management) in the UK isn’t surprised by the revelation. He thinks in many cases the strategy is justified: “When your business is about moving goods, your entire organisational focus is on that. Anything outside of it, such as investing in infrastructure and fleet management software, is not a priority or justified expense.”

“There are ways to reduce risk by opting for outsourced services and getting everything you need from the supply chain.” he adds.

For such businesses, Hollick says, it’s less about risk and more about cost reduction. Fleet management software systems do help in that area by instilling best practice, standardisation and efficiency but they come at a price.

What could you do if you had the right data?

However, Philippe Noubel, ex-deputy CEO at Arval and now senior adviser to the fleet industry takes a different view and thinks these companies may be missing a trick: “The complexity of managing fleets has increased over the past ten to 15 years. Even with a good fleet management system in place it can be tortuous but at least there’s a chance your calculations will be correct, not so with paper-based systems.”

He continues: “There’s so much data available from many sources that is relevant from an operational point of view - especially for multinational fleet operators where things are different in each country.

If you’re trying to reduce costs, such as fuel consumption, for example. How can you do so without adequate and meaningful fuel data. In light of recent fake reporting [of emissions], companies are keen to be seen as accountable. Fuel consumption is directly linked to vehicle usage, which is impossible to accurately state without reliable data so companies can prove what they claim is true.”

The importance of self-service apps and supply chain support

Gary Jefferies, sales and marketing director of Bynx (a company that supplies a global fleet and mobility management platform) thinks the fleet supply chain should be more consultative and supportive of the fleet operator and its drivers: “The role of the fleet manager and requirements of fleet operators have changed and they are faced with new challenges, which could be regulatory, environmental, financial. All these can be simplified, reduced or eased by an engaged supply base.

In today’s digital world, all areas of the supply chain, which is vast and has many resources to tap into, should provide self-service tools that enable the end customer (fleet operator) to manage their fleet.” he concludes.

Any business running vehicles - whether or not they are a fleet company - needs to be accountable. Vehicle and driver data, plus good reporting, is key to that - whether it’s done using spreadsheets, a dedicated software system or the supply chain doesn’t matter as long as it’s done.


Authored by: Alison Pittaway