Critical Questions to Ask Telematics Providers Before Buying Devices or Software

Critical Questions to Ask Telematics Providers Before Buying Devices or Software

Telematics is a mandatory part of managing any fleet, regardless of industry. More than 12.7 million units will be up and running in North America by 2020.  In addition to simply tracking the location of every driver in your fleet, you can analyze routes to determine more effective options and minimize travel time.  You can even pinpoint vehicle efficiency issues and recover lost product. All in all, telematics can save your company money and boost your overall productivity.  

However, finding the right telematics provider isn’t so easy.  Some pain points you might run into include:

  • Customer support that isn’t U.S.-based (and thus may not be helpful or available 24/7)
    installation without any guidance or support

  • Purchase of the wrong device, leading to a messy return/exchange situation

  • Automatic contract renewals – possibly locking you into a service that isn’t a great fit

  • Hidden fees

  • The device or software may not deliver as promised

To avoid these costly issues, there are some critical questions to ask your prospective telematics provider before signing the dotted line.

When is the software updated – how often does this happen and how much does it cost?

Today’s technology is updated often.  Just think about your smartphone or tablet – surely, a large number of apps have been updated in just the last 24 hours.  You should expect no less of your telematics devices. The software and hardware you’ve invested in should be consistently improved to meet your ever-changing needs and reflect developments in your industry.

You’ll find two different approaches to updates:

  • Quarterly or annual updates – a more measured approach that you can plan for but that’s not exactly timely

  • Frequent updates – new features are rolled out as they become available but there isn’t a consistent schedule

You need to verify if these updates are automatic or if they come at a cost. You also shouldn’t have to endure a waiting period for them, and there should be a clear channel for you to deliver feedback on performance.

Is the software developed in-house?

If a company is truly dedicated to delivering the best product, they’ll have dedicated staff in-house working around the clock.  If they’re outsourcing, the quality could still be high, but you’ll face a major issue with urgency – you’ll face slow turnaround for bug fixes, feature upgrades, new integrations, and updates.  The lack of an in-house team could also mean you’re dealing with a reseller. Resellers aren’t invested in the product, and they have no influence over its development. Thus, your feedback will fall on deaf ears.

Does this provider have relevant experience?

Has this provider worked with any other companies in your industry, and at that, companies with similar fleet sizes? You need proof that this provider can handle the unique challenges of your business.  You need to see success personified. You can find this through testimonials on the provider’s site, but you should be able to go further and secure contact info from a customer who can share concrete details about their experience.

How easy is integration with your other systems?

Integrations are critical for seamless operations.  Utilizing several different apps and devices, with no cross-functionality, can be frustrating and time-consuming.  Talk to your prospective provider about the software you’re currently using and find out if there’s a way to streamline your process.  You want to avoid adding unnecessary layers to your current operations.

Can you track vehicles and assets together?

Some telematics providers support vehicle tracking and asset tracking separately, but not together.  This isn’t ideal. You want the ability to track both from a single interface to keep things streamlined and easily accessible.  Explore your options before making a decision.

Is there a mobile app?

The easiest way to access data and communicate with your provider is via mobile.  This is essential for most business use cases but especially for one that depends so heavily on timely and accurate vehicle data.  It’s also important to test the app’s functionality. Does it deliver? Does it perform every function you need as quickly as promised, and is the UX easy to navigate?

Can multiple users use the software with different permissions?

Odds are, there are several levels of employees in your company, from dispatchers all the way up to executives.  Most of them will need access to your telematics software to handle issues as they arise. You need software that enables access to multiple users at once, and you also need authority to control each user’s permissions.  This telematics software should be built for multi-tiered corporate use.

When searching for the right telematics provider, it’s important to assess your needs and find a company with a proven track record that can offer tailored solutions for your business.  To learn more about telematics, contact Lightning GPS today.

Crystal Kamm