The fleet software industry should do more to educate businesses about the limitations of spreadsheets when it comes to managing company cars and vans, believes FleetCheck.
Peter Golding, FleetCheck managing director, says that, in the fleet software industry, spreadsheets remain a much bigger competitor for most fleet software companies than their peers.
He said: “If the fleet software sector could persuade just a relatively small percentage of fleets to set aside their spreadsheets and use specialist software, both the industry and general standards of fleet management would grow exponentially.
“In a very real sense, the single best thing that the industry as a whole could do is introduce an education campaign against spreadsheet use because, at the end of the day, they are extremely limited tools when it comes to fleet management.”
Golding explained that the disadvantages of spreadsheets for fleets were myriad but could be summarised by the facts that they achieved too little and were too complicated to use.
“Good fleet management software will automatically draw in data from a wide variety of reliable sources, enable you to put in place a policy infrastructure, and essentially only demand your attention when tasks need managerial action,” he said. “It will also provide a high level of transparency over your fleet, operationally and financially, as well as aid compliance.
“I’m a big fan of Excel and use it every day in my working life but it simply cannot deliver a fraction of that capability. Essentially, it will just allow you to calculate some of your costs and compile some useful information, all of which will be done on a reactive basis.
“However, there remains an entrenched level of support for spreadsheets, perhaps especially among finance functions, even though we can point to customer after customer who was once in a similar position and now loves the software that we provide.”
Golding added that there was perhaps a perception that it was only in the SME sector that spreadsheets remained prevalent for fleet use but this was not the case.
He continued: “We quite regularly come across fleets of more than a thousand vehicles where there is no specialist software in use and they are being managed by a combination of spreadsheets and paper systems that cannot help but be producing poor results.
“However, it would also be fair to say that the spreadsheet is the number SME fleet management tool, and that the fleet software industry – and fleets themselves – have the most substantial gains to make here.
“We are probably the largest fleet software company offering products in the SME sector with more than 500 customer businesses totalling 50,000 vehicles so, but even we have only achieved a relatively limited level of penetration of the potential customer base.
“Part of what we have achieved has been through our ability to win over spreadsheet users but we are sure that, by working with other providers, the industry could achieve more.”