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Why stand-alone fleet management systems make sense

By FLEET e-news posted 31-03-2014 11:44


By Ross Moody 

An effective management information system is probably the most critical technology tool needed to run an efficient fleet.

Plant and vehicles represent a significant component of project delivery cost, and just a 5% reduction in this cost can result in significant savings. And yet many organisations continue to rely on inadequate reports generated by financial systems or spreadsheets.

Over the years I’ve observed that most organisations record some degree of  fleet related data but they don’t always use the information effectively.

Organisations usually generate their fleet management reporting from spreadsheets, a data base, a financial system, an asset management system or a dedicated fleet management system. Spreadsheets or data base systems are limited in reporting ability (but may be adequate for a small fleet), and financial systems are excellent at capturing basic costs.

However, both financial and asset management systems do not report adequately on the key performance indicators required to effectively manage a fleet.

The topic of “fleet management reporting” was workshopped by the IPWEA nationally in 2011 through the professional development seminar series.

Discussion on fleet management software always attracts a lot interest and the 180 fleet practitioners attending the nine workshops around Australia drew out two consistencies.

Firstly, there was strong agreement that a lack of relevant management reporting significantly impacts on their ability to effectively manage a fleet. Secondly they identified the core capabilities that fleet managers wanted from fleet software.

The session wasn’t about assessing the merits of different software packages, but rather about the software capabilities needed to meet industry needs.

Our aim was to develop an outline specification template that can be referred to by an organisation when they are in the market for fleet management software.

The table below summarises the items identified by fleet practitioners as essential, desirable and optional items in a fleet management reporting system.

Key Requirements of a Fleet Management System







Plant List/Asset record

Warranty details

User Manuals (electronic)

Whole of Life Costs

Security of Data


Optimum Replacement criteria and 10 Year Plan

P&L report


Plant (asset) History

Cost Centre Identification


Maintenance History

Export to XL



User friendly


Maintenance Forecasting

Lease vehicle reports

Optional Extras

Maintenance failure reporting



Accident report


External Plant Hire

Hire rates


Small plant records

Fuel rebate


Work orders/Job cards


Parts inventory

Registration Due

Single data entry


File transfer to/from Finance System

Driver Licence/special permits/infringement records

Vehicle permits

Scheduled/Unscheduled Maintenance


Light fleet booking system

Fuel consumption

Location of asset


Job status

Scheduled Maintenance Flat rates



Included in the essential information required to manage a fleet is reporting on key performance indicators namely:

(1) Utilisation

(2) Optimum Replacement Points

(3) Whole of Life Costs

(4) Downtime Costs

(5) Maintenance Failure Records

(6) Scheduled versus unscheduled maintenance

The collection of data in these key areas will enable an organisation to measure performance against industry benchmarks. 

A challenge faced by fleet managers is the push by organisations to rationalise the number of software programs and the resistance by IT departments to stand alone systems. The fleet management system therefore must be able to share data with the organisation’s main financial or asset management systems. 

A stand alone plant and vehicle management system that caters specifically for the needs of a fleet manager allows the manager to undertake projections and study trends without affecting the integrity of financial management criteria. 

In private industry, failure to analyse data such as fuel consumption, downtime, repair costs etc can result in insolvency. In a review of the bankruptcy of transport company “McArthur Express” poor reporting systems was quoted as a major element of their demise.

More information on this topic can be found in the IPWEA best practice Plant & 
Vehicle Management Manual. See