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The Employer's GPS Tracking Solution Guide: Everything Your Business Needs to Know

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: May 17, 2018
Image credit: winui/Shutterstock

There is a range of employee GPS tracking systems. Which one is suitable for your business? Learn how to choose the right one and successfully implement it.

Choosing the correct employee GPS tracking solution for your workforce may seem pretty straightforward, right? You check out available platforms, pick one, and voila! Well, yes, your company could pick a solution that way, but blinding selecting any platform is the worst thing you could do.

Let's mention some of the potential traps you could fall into: Employees could fear that by tracking them, you are violating their privacy, or you might find that your chosen platform lacks features that you or your employees may find helpful in the future.

Another trap is that your administrators could start using your chosen platform without being fully trained; this will lead to problems. Imagine owning a retail chain, implementing a GPS tracking platform and then realizing your HR department failed to create geofenced areas (e.g., your stores), disabling the app's automatic timesheet feature. This is just one of the many issues you or your staff could face.

So what does a company need to do to get employee GPS tracking right? Well, many things, and these steps are covered below, from picking the right solution to implementing it.

Searching for an employee GPS tracking solution

Feature analysis

Before you even begin the process of selecting the right GPS tracking platform, you must perform a features analysis. You probably are familiar with a SWOT analysis, a study capable of identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of every organization. A similar study can be performed to discover which features are required in an employee GPS tracking solution.

Features can be split into a couple of groups. The first group should contain essential features, those that have to be included in the solution. For instance, retail businesses might want to have a geofencing feature so that they can utilize automatic timesheet monitoring. A property business may need advanced GPS tracking features, such as custom routes, two-way communication, setting up location-specific tasks, etc. along with security features for their field agents. Each business has its own unique needs; therefore, it's imperative you work with your staff work to create a list of must-have features that will aid implementation.

Editor's note: Looking for a GPS fleet tracking solution? We can help you choose the program 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:

The second group might include features that are good but not essential. These can be payroll integration, support of project collaboration, or file sharing between groups. They could be included within a platform, but you can still pick a platform even if it doesn't offer a complete set of these features.
 

Another group could include potentially helpful features, which could be omitted from a platform without any penalties for your company. For instance, maybe you already have a bookkeeping service, but having automatic bookkeeping integration could be helpful. There's also support for installing stand-alone GPS tracking in case you own a vehicle fleet, or a support for miles tracking that can be used for issuing fuel expense slips.

And finally, you might (or not) construct a list of features you want to avoid. For instance, some privacy intrusion features, like automatic screenshot taking or an app monitoring feature (which can show a live desktop view of each workstation), could negatively influence your office climate.

Before embarking on a quest to find the perfect employee GPS tracking solution, your company should perform an ENHA (essential, nonessential, helpful, to avoid) study. Your entire workforce should be included when deciding upon different sets of features. HR departments often do not understand the full gamut of GPS capabilities. For instance, employees may want to use their GPS app for communication or to transfer work data. Delivery drivers may need to scan receipts; HR may not appreciate this need.  

Choosing potential GPS tracking platforms

Before deciding on a platform, you and your staff should have a couple of potential choices in mind. Using the list of features you determined from your ENHA study, you should have a pretty accurate image of what you need from a GPS employee platform. Check out every potential app and list the essential and non-essential features each has to offer. The UI and ease of use should carry some weight as should pricing.

Your staff, both those who will perform monitoring and those who will be monitored, should check out each potential platform and give their personal feedback regarding the UI and the overall look of the apps. Once you decide which platform provides the best ratio of provided features, select and test at least two.

Finding a platform and incorporating it

Testing each potential platform

Although most employee GPS tracking solutions offer free trials, there are a couple of things your HR department should think about before it begins testing the different platforms.

First, your test groups should include employees from each sector. This will give you multiple views about each platform, and it is always better for your entire workforce to be included in testing. 

Next, testing (as well as the installation of the platform's mobile app) should be done on business phones. Include as many phone models as you can, along with every smartphone OS your employees use. If there are workers who use business phones that run Windows 10 Mobile or old Blackberry devices, you'll either need to issue those employees iOS or Android devices or omit them from your GPS tracking program, because most platforms do not support these two operating systems. If your employees have Android business phones, include each Android version – this is very important, because there might be incompatibilities with different Android versions.

The testing phase should last at least a couple of weeks, and during this time, you and your team must test all important features as well as the stability of each platform. We recommend using the same groups of testers, because it is better for all of them to test each platform than to only experience one. Feedback is better when you have insight into every potential solution.

Once the testing phase ends, your HR managers should construct a questionnaire that is capable of gathering all the necessary data needed for choosing the right platform. The decision should be made by you (the owner) in conjunction with HR managers, workers, administrators and those who will monitor the system.

Administrator training

Now that you've tested and chosen one platform, it is time to train the future administrators. In order to get the most from the platform, you have to organize training for administrators. This is essential. They should know everything about the platform, how to use it, how to monitor workers and create reports, how to use the data gathered and troubleshoot if things go south.

Incorporating the platform

It's probably best not to install the app on everyone's device at the same time. We recommend incorporating the platform in waves, to ensure stability and the gradual influx of worker GPS tracking data as well as data related to other features, such as document sharing, automatic timesheets, etc.

Leave a couple of days in between each new wave of installations to ensure stability. You should also reserve a couple of hours to introduce your workers to the app. Sure, sending out instructions via email is easier, but in the long run, organizing a couple of meetings in which to inform employees on how to use the app will save you time and effort.

And, of course, one HR manager should always be available to field potential inquiries regarding your chosen app.

Using the platform in the right way

Once you have incorporated the GPS tracking solution into your company, you have to keep it working and utilize it in the right way that makes your employees more efficient and your company more productive.

Regular maintenance and updates

Once implementation is complete, don't think all is over regarding maintenance and updates. Your administrators should look out for any updates, especially for the mobile app and notify employees to install them immediately.

Also, all computers used for monitoring should be regularly checked for viruses and malware. As you know, collected data is highly sensitive and private, and you don't want it to be stolen, deleted or locked. Regular antivirus scans should be enough to prevent data being compromised.

Monthly reports

Most employee GPS platforms offer some kind of automatic monthly reports. They can give you precious info on many different subjects. For instance, you can see how many miles your employees traveled in total, on a daily basis or per shift and more.

Reports can also show the average number of work hours (if the platform supports clocking in and off, and most do), and in some cases, even the number of successful projects, time spent on them, average workload per employee, and much more. These reports contain precious data that can be used to make your company more efficient, improve the work environment and make your employees more productive.

Using the platform to create a more efficient company and a more productive workforce

By using info from collected data, you and your HR managers can devise many different ways to improve efficiency at your company. For instance, employees could benefit from shorter work hours one or two days per week, or maybe you can see that they don't use certain breaks or they take too much time for lunch; insights like these could lead to creating a new break schedule.

GPS data can show you routes taken by your employees, their total mileage and more. Use these data points to create better, shorter, more efficient routes to your work sites. Or create a map of roads used for deliveries, or something completely different.

Depending on your business, there are limitless ways to improve efficiency. It's all up to you. Of course, the data doesn't have to be used this way, but if not, this precious info will be thrown away and wasted.

Using the platform to make for a better work environment

As we noted above, creating a better break schedule can lead to a more pleasant work environment. You can also create better shift schedules, which will resonate better with your workforce, or you can use GPS tracking to track the number of successful tasks that are completed and then reward your best workers. These changes can not only improve your employees' work day, but it helps create a better work environment and can lead to enhanced productivity.

Additional useful tips

Install the platform only on business devices

We mentioned this already, but it's worth stating again: Any employee GPS tracking platform should be installed only on business devices. Forcing employees to install the GPS tracking mobile app on a private device is an invasion of one's personal privacy and shouldn't be considered.

If your employees do not have business phones, either skip installing the app on their personal devices or buy them a business phone.

Respect employee privacy

Your administrators should respect the privacy of all employees. No GPS tracking data should be saved in a way that reveals the habits of specific employees, like whole routes taken or their complete movement history. You can use GPS data for increasing efficiency or for keeping track of completed tasks, but do not keep an employee's location history on servers.

You should not track employees during their off hours. If the platform you've chosen offers automatic shutdown of tracking during breaks and off hours, use it. And make sure that administrators don't keep screenshots or any other type of info capable of revealing sensitive data about employees.

Allow employees to see collected data so they know what is monitored and why.

This should be mandatory for all companies using employee GPS tracking software. Allow workers to know what data is being collected and why. Employees should have access to their GPS tracking data, as well as any files they shared (if the platform supports project management integration and file sharing), their daily check-ins and work hours, and every other piece of data collected by tracking software.

Make GPS tracking transparent

Notify employees via messages or another means when they are tracked. Employee GPS tracking should be transparent and should be visible to both employees and administrators. Create alerts informing workers if they are being tracked during off hours so that they can turn GPS tracking off if they've forgotten to. And make sure that every employee can see their location and route history (if they are collected) if they wish to check it out.

Educate your workforce about benefits of employee GPS tracking

By educating your workforce about the benefits of employee GPS tracking, they will know how and why their location is being tracked. Make sure that HR managers provide answers to any employee's inquiry, and always be ready for an open discussion on all areas of GPS tracking practices so your employees can understand the many advantages to implementing an employee GPS tracking system.

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