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Choosing a GPS Fleet Tracking System

By
Sara Angeles
,
business.com writer
|
Feb 20, 2018
Home
> Technology
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The right software will ensure you can keep detailed tabs on your vehicles and team.

If you run a construction firm, it's important to know where your transportation vehicles and materials are – and if they’ll make it to their destinations on time. GPS fleet tracking systems use GPS hardware installed in a vehicle to track locations, generate vehicle diagnostics and monitor driving behaviors. Real-time data is sent from the vehicle to your software via satellite, so you always have the most current data.

To help you choose the right one for your construction firm, here are 10 things to look for in a GPS fleet tracking system.

1. Cost and contracts

GPS fleet tracking costs vary. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and costs largely depend on the size of your fleet and the features you need. The majority of vendors charge on a month-to-month basis. You'll find prices from around $20 per month to $100 per month or more. Some providers also offer free hardware, while others charge on a per-user basis. Other payment options include annual subscriptions and pay-as-you-go plans. Note that some services require annual or multi-year contracts, but many don't require any long-term commitments. 

Editor's note: Looking for a GPS fleet tracking system? We can help you choose the one that's right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

2. Notifications

You can't stare at your GPS fleet tracking software 24/7. The best GPS fleet tracking services do all the monitoring for you, sending you notifications by text or email when something needs your attention. You can set which alerts you want to receive, such as when a vehicle departs or arrives, if a driver is off route or crosses geofences, and if the hardware detects unsafe driving behaviors.

3. Customizable dashboard

GPS fleet tracking systems monitor a wide variety of data, which can clutter your dashboard. Choose a system that only has the most important information on your dashboard so you get to see key metrics right when you log in, such as current locations, action items and emergencies. Some providers also allow you to select which types of data to present and how detailed you want them to be. This way, you can cater the software to your specific needs.

4. Easy to use

Because GPS fleet tracking systems monitor all types of vehicles and driving data in real time, the software can get complex. If you don't have time to get through the learning curve or train your staff, find a provider with a simple dashboard that doesn't require any tech skills to navigate. Most vendors offer free demos, so you can have a sales rep walk you through it in person or try the software online before you buy.

5. Vehicle diagnostics

GPS fleet tracking software should monitor more than just vehicle locations. For you to get the most out of your investment, it should also track vehicle diagnostics. This includes fuel management, engine diagnostics, repairs, maintenance schedules, start and stop times, and other items to maximize efficiency.

6. Driving behavior tracking

Similarly, GPS fleet tracking systems should monitor driver behaviors to keep them and other drivers safe on the road. It should track route histories, such as when a driver goes off route, is off schedule, has excessive idling times or makes too many stops. It should also record hard turns, sudden stops and other incidents. Some systems allow you to integrate driver IDs with vehicles to streamline work hours and expenses.

7. Signal and uptime

Since GPS data is sent via satellite, choose a provider that has a reliable signal and uptime. You may be able to find this information on vendors' websites, but you may also want to ask for detailed reports of any downtimes and technical outages.

8. Mobile access

If you're frequently away from your desk, a GPS fleet tracking mobile app is a great option. This gives you access to all of your GPS data right on your iOS or Android device. Many also let you complete certain tasks, such as contact drivers and send directions. However, not all providers offer a mobile app. If this is the case, and mobile access is important to you, check that your provider at least has a mobile-friendly, web-based version of the software.

9. Third-party integration and automation

Make your life easier by finding a GPS fleet tracking system that integrates with business solutions you already use. For instance, some software can automatically sync with your accounting, payroll, and time and attendance software to log driving hours, mileage and expenses. This can help you and your drivers save tons of time from having to manually recall and input data.

10. Customer support

Not all GPS fleet tracking system providers offer live customer support. Make sure someone is always there when you need them by choosing one that offers phone support. Other resources to look for include live chat, email or help desk support, tutorials, documentation, and how-to videos. Note that many vendors charge extra for priority support.

Sara Angeles
Sara Angeles
Sara is a Los Angeles-based tech writer for Business.com, Business News Daily and Tom's IT Pro. A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, she has worked as a freelance writer and copywriter for tech publications, lifestyle brands and nonprofit organizations in the Southern California area and throughout the U.S. Sara joined the Purch team in 2013.
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