Matthew Garrett, programme manager at Entec Si
Technology such as the Cloud has been available to fleets for years, but only now has it become a necessity.
Covid-19 has opened the door to innovative new working practices, enabling businesses to increase their resilience in the long-term.
However, when implementing new technologies, it is important to consider any impacts on a company’s people.
During the pandemic, many businesses have had to cope with interrupted services, office closures and the need to follow the Government’s strict safety guidelines, and fleets are no exception.
Each challenge has required businesses to introduce rapid changes to their working practices, something that not all of them were prepared for.
However, I believe that the switch to remote working and the transformation of systems and processes is not necessarily a bad thing.
Cloud-based solutions have allowed fleets to move every element of their administration online, from delivery confirmations to customer engagement.
This has provided employees with the equipment and knowledge they need to work remotely, allowing fleets to become more flexible than ever before.
In just a few clicks, fleet managers can gain access to maintenance information, reports and bookings on a single platform, improving both their productivity and efficiency levels.
Moving the business online also allows those who have invested in vehicle telematics to realise the full potential of this technology.
Not only can managers monitor KPIs such as mileage and how many jobs are being fulfilled in a given time, but they can also use the analytics to better understand their client base. This will enable them to make more informed business decisions in the future.
Another form of technology that I am sure will make fleets more efficient in the years to come is contactless confirmation systems.
These have come to the fore during the pandemic, enabling carriers to comply with social distancing rules when delivering a package.
Rather than taking a signature to confirm delivery, a photo is taken instead. Although a simple solution, this will help fleets to become paperless while increasing their overall efficiency.
When lockdown began, the main priority for businesses was making remote working possible.
A key part of this was investing in a cloud-based system, however, the speed in which this had to be done meant that suitability of the chosen platform may not have been considered.
Fleets now need to assess whether any further solutions they put in place are the right fit for their business model and look into alternative options if needed.
Seeking advice from a business change professional can help to inform this decision, as they can objectively review the needs of the company in order to identify the most appropriate technology solutions.
However, technology is not the only aspect of business change. People are at the heart of every company, including fleets, and I believe that a business-led approach is always more effective than one focused on technology alone.
This allows solutions to be delivered that truly benefit the organisation and its employees, leading to a happy workforce and a functional business.
To identify areas for improvement, fleets should undergo a business health check, assessing their processes to see if they complement the company’s future strategy.
If this involves using technology, then managers need to teach employees how to use it. Alternatively, if the focus is on remote working, business leaders need to make sure that all essential documents are accessible online.
No matter what changes are due to take place, company culture must be kept at the forefront of any major decisions being made. It is vital to include the workforce in a change project, otherwise it could be met with resistance.
Listening to staff’s needs and creating a supportive community is key to a successful transformation project, especially at such an uncertain time.
If we can take anything positive from Covid-19, it is that it has given businesses the chance to assess and improve their processes.
Once normality starts to return, fleets must learn from the changes they have made and avoid falling back into old habits.
By maintaining this new level of flexibility, I believe that fleets will become more resilient than they have ever been before.