The right and wrong ways to deploy telematics

There are many data sets available to fleet managers, so implementing some best practices will help you maximize the functionality of your telematics systems and engage in useful data management.
There are many data sets available to fleet managers, so implementing some best practices will help you maximize the functionality of your telematics systems and engage in useful data management.

Telematics can provide incredible insights to fleet managers about the productivity and safety of their drivers and fleet.

Furthermore, telematics systems that incorporate machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) can even help fleet managers predict potential issues to make impactful business decisions.

There are many data sets available to fleet managers, so implementing some best practices will help you maximize the functionality of your telematics systems and engage in useful data management.

Here are some dos and don’ts of telematics to help fleet managers stay on the right track.

DO

Implement a driver coaching system
The data gathered from telematics systems illustrates certain modifications that could improve driver behavior. Implementing these modifications will result in a reduction of losses and increased safety on the roads.

A driver coaching program is both a written and verbal safety policy that clearly states driver expectations and performance. Encourage consistent communication with employees and establish a system for employees to provide feedback, address concerns or get their questions answered in a swift and easy manner.

Master the system you’re using
The best way to get the most out of your telematics system is to take the time to learn it.

You may uncover beneficial use-cases for your particular industry that you may not have without knowing the full capabilities. Lean on your telematics provider’s training resources.

They should have an extensive learning/help center and provide role-based training sessions and courses so that your drivers and admins only need to learn what matters to their day-to-day use of the platform.

These courses can be offered live online or recorded for on-demand use. Take the time to learn your telematics program and about the various metrics you can measure and leverage.

Clearly define and communicate the key metrics that you want to track
Pay attention to details but avoid obsessing over each tiny data point.

Telematics can provide fleet managers with a great deal of data, so it’s imperative to have goals and an overall operational plan. This could include benchmarks in driver productivity and efficiency, safety, fleet maintenance and any other business-related goals.

By spotlighting data that makes sense for your relevant objectives, it will allow you to adjust and make decisions that move the needle in a meaningful way for your set criteria.

Further to this point, be intentional with your internal communication plan and be transparent in sharing with employees which key performance indicators will be measured when they are hired. Have managers and team leads set clear expectations upfront regarding productivity and safety.

Fleet managers can garner driver buy-in for safety coaching programs and performance feedback reviews by consistently communicating with employees and establishing an efficient and easy system for employees to provide feedback, address concerns and have questions answered.

Another communication approach would be to start small and only focus on the most impactful metrics at first. Initially tracking only important data points— such as idling rates, delivery times and basic driving behaviors — can prevent drivers from feeling overwhelmed and heavily monitored when adopting a new telematics system, and fleet managers can always expand upon the initial list of tracked metrics as time goes on.

DON’T

Rely on telematics as the only way to evaluate employees and identify bad drivers
Yes, it is important to carefully analyze the collected data, but do not use this as the sole form of driver evaluation. This could lead to distrust between managers and employees.

There may have been extenuating circumstances, such as traffic delays or road accidents, that caused a reduction in driver efficiency, so make sure to review the entire situation before labeling someone as a bad driver.

As discussed in the “dos,” a holistic approach to employee evaluation is rooted in open communication. By having conversations with customers, coworkers and – most importantly – the driver in question, you will gain a more accurate representation of an employee’s performance.

Be hard on employees when adopting your telematics software
It is natural for employees to be resistant or feel overwhelmed when a company implements new technologies.

Do not expect employees to embrace the system immediately. Give them time to feel it out, which will in time improve their overall performance. You also do not want to hide any information from employees. Instead, implement a user-friendly system and capitalize on transparency with employees. Hiding important information or eluding arduous questions will not lead to desired driver results.

Wait for the end of month/week reporting to take corrective actions
Traditional driver safety coaching programs are based on reports that are captured and produced on a weekly/monthly basis.

This useful information can be used in a reactive manner, but newer systems can offer feedback in real-time that is customized to your requirements. By setting up custom alerts in your telematics system, you can be notified in real-time when issues arise and take action before the problem persists long enough to be increasingly harmful to your bottom line.

Telematics has a lot to offer fleet managers and following best practices will help get the most out of the systems.

From driver coaching and safety programs to productivity tracking to business benchmarks, telematics can provide insights into almost every area of fleet management. Smart data management and application will help fleet managers maximize the functionality of their systems.

By following the dos and avoiding the don’ts, telematics will drive fleet managers to success.  

Kurt Wyman is the vice president of sales and North America General Manager at Teletrac Navman, a leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider leveraging location-based technology and services for managing mobile assets. He is responsible for all sales, professional services and alliances for North America. Teletrac Navman focuses on key vertical markets including transportation, construction, field service, mining, agriculture, government, and other organizations deploying vehicles for work or assets that help complete the work.