By law, municipal vehicles must operate under the same laws and guidelines that govern our roads as commercial vehicles. They must retain maintenance and repair records for all work performed on each piece of equipment. Often times, Insurance companies also have this same requirement for proof of due diligence purposes.
However, municipalities with smaller fleets of equipment (between 50-250 units) often manage and track maintenance and repairs with spreadsheets, handwritten forms, an equipment maintenance log book, and their accounting software. Using this method presents a number of challenges and risk exposures and often invites further scrutiny by the department of Transportation and insurance companies, especially when issues arise.
Spreadsheets and handwritten forms allow for inconsistent and incomplete information. Equipment maintenance log books are easily lost or damaged, often with no backup. Maintenance planning and scheduling milestones are easily overlooked. Parts warranty tracking is next to impossible. As a result, decisions about your fleet can sometimes be based on inaccurate information.
Fleet and equipment maintenance software can dramatically improve consistency, accuracy, enable better maintenance planning and scheduling, and save time and money, especially with parts warranty tracking.
It used to be that only larger municipalities with the budget for IT infrastructure, servers, and resources, could justify the cost of using fleet maintenance software. However, that is not the case today and the fact is that the fleet maintenance spreadsheet and maintenance log book are approaching extinction.
Fleet management technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in North America. In addition to Fleet Harmony Cloud Fleet management software, there are numerous fleet / equipment maintenance software solutions that are easy to use and affordable.
So as a small municipality what are some of the basic features to look for?
The easier the software is to use, the more likely you will have success implementing it, and the more likely your staff will buy in and use it. Moving from a fleet maintenance spreadsheet or manual maintenance log book system to computerized fleet maintenance software can be overwhelming to your staff and technicians so it is critical that the software you choose and how you implement it needs to be carefully considered.
There is no point implementing any equipment maintenance software if you cannot generate useful and easy to read reports. Reporting and search ability are important factors to be considered. I have seen some real beauties in terms of software titles that fail miserably when it comes to reporting, and/or in the effort required to generate them.
These days, cloud-based fleet maintenance software seems to be the best bang for the buck for smaller municipalities. It eliminates the need for in-house or for-hire IT resources. Down time is minimized dramatically when computer issues arise because there is no software to re-install. Your maintenance records are professionally backed up and archived automatically. Plus, software support is generally included in the price.
The uniqueness of each municipality makes the ability to easily adapt to the software, or to have the software modified is worth consideration. While most software providers will customize their software, surprisingly, some won’t. Others excessively price software modifications that discourage you from making changes to the software. Look for fleet maintenance software providers with an active suggestion box.
Regardless of the fleet maintenance software title you choose, be aware that it takes time, planning, and commitment to get up and running. The ability to import existing data from spreadsheets can save hours of data entry time. Having implementation assistance included in the price is a bonus.
And lastly but most importantly, support,support,support!