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Turning on compliance: ‘paperless’ third-party services growing

Photo courtesy of RAIR compliance services

Photo courtesy of RAIR compliance services

Compliance is more than a cost of doing business. Whereas mistakes in accounting for fuel, payroll and other expenses might cost someone a job, miscues that result in hours-of-service violations, incomplete driver qualification files and more will put an entire company at risk.

Just as carriers use third party accounting firms to audit their financials, many use compliance management services to ensure their record keeping can withstand the scrutiny of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Companies that provide compliance services have tools that fleets and drivers use to prevent errors in the first place. They also use automated technology to capture data from fleets to bring down the cost of outsourcing and make compliance easier to manage.

Here are two areas where outsourcing has been growing in the transportation industry by way of new and improved technology.

Managing logbooks

Hundreds, if not thousands, of fleets have transitioned away from paper logs with many more to follow before the FMCSA mandates use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). Enforcement of the mandate will begin two years after the agency publication of its final ELD rule, which could be as early as September, 2015.

J.J. Keller's Managed Services group offers reporting and consulting for fleet compliance.

J.J. Keller’s Managed Services group offers reporting and consulting for fleet compliance.

Outsourcing hours-of-service compliance is one way to ease the transition. Third party providers take in paper and electronic records to deliver fleet-wide visibility and control through a single online portal. They can also seamlessly manage compliance for clients that use ELDs from multiple providers as well as those with multiple locations.

“Fleets can feel overwhelmed by too much data,” says John Vosters, chief sales officer of ITS Compliance, a firm that offers a full suite of outsourcing services. By integrating with telematics providers to capture ELD data, ITS Compliance uses its own real-time software to identify exceptions that impact compliance and risk and then takes the lead on managing the response, he says.

The largest compliance provider in the transportation industry, J.J. Keller & Associates, offers a Web-based platform with multiple subscription levels for compliance tools. Fleets can use its Encompass portal to manage log data captured by Keller’s own E-Log application and from paper logs.

Separately, J.J. Keller and Associates offers compliance reporting and analytical tools for logbook data, vehicle inspections and other activities captured by third party ELD and telematics systems. The company offers this through its Managed Services group that combines reporting with consulting to help fleets remediate exceptions, the company says.

RAIR compliance services, a division of Lytx, provides uniform hours of service management for electronic and paper logs. Electronic logbook information is captured through integration with the ELD systems its clients use. Paper logs can be scanned at the office for immediate auditing and compliance reporting through its central, online portal.

“The portal we provide makes it easy to access all documents that we manage on their behalf and any gaps we may have discovered,” says Scot Rambo, director of RAIR.

Driver Hiring

Speeding up the job application and qualifications process has become paramount for recruiting drivers. Any delays could lead to missed opportunities. Rather than manually review job applications that drivers complete on paper or online, fleets are using technology to create a fast, electronic hiring process that fulfills all legal requirements.

A number of screening services have websites that provide the instant pre-employment checks required by the FMCSA.

Insurance Information Exchange (iiX), for example, offers an online portal that fleets use to order and retrieve MVR and other pre-employment records within minutes. The company also has an ongoing driver compliance monitoring tool called DriverSafe Plus that automatically tracks changes in MVR records on an individual and fleet-wide level.

Background checks and other required steps can be integrated with online driver job applications to speed the qualification and hiring process. Upgrading to the Compliance edition of J.J. Keller’s Encompass portal gives fleets access to tools for managing the hiring process and ongoing maintenance of qualification files.

ITS Compliance offers a paperless driver qualification process that begins with drivers filling out an application using its online form, tailored to the needs of individual fleet clients. The company manages the pre-employment screening and onboarding process as well as the ongoing maintenance of driver files to ensure compliance, Vosters says.

First Advantage recently came out with an online employment application and screening product called DOT Direct, adding to its portfolio of compliance management services.

First Advantage recently came out with an online employment application and screening product called DOT Direct, adding to its portfolio of compliance management services.

First Advantage recently came out with an online employment application and screening product called DOT Direct. Motor carrier clients use this product as a driver job application. The online interface can be customized with motor carrier logos and a link to the application embedded into their websites and online recruiting media.

DOT Direct has built in logic to require certain fields to be completed by drivers for compliance purposes, such the past three years of employment history. The tool interacts with First Advantage’s pre-employment screening database to facilitate instant hiring decisions.

Once the application is complete, hiring managers can immediately qualify the driver and request additional background searches. First Advantage is the largest screening provider globally and offers DOT Direct through its First Advantage Fleet Solutions division which is dedicated to commercial transportation.

In the past, outsourcing compliance to a third party might have seemed laborious with all of the paper files that needed to be mailed, scanned and uploaded to the service provider. Now that outsourcing has become a paperless transaction, accessing human experts and IT resources to ease the cost and burden of compliance is a mouse click away.

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Aaron Huff is the Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Huff’s career in the transportation industry began at a family-owned trucking company and expanded to CCJ, where for the past 14 years he has specialized in covering business and technology for online and print readers and speaking at industry events. A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, Huff holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama.