With the sheer amount of data available to work truck fleet managers, how do you avoid data...

With the sheer amount of data available to work truck fleet managers, how do you avoid data overload? 

Photo: Work Truck

The massive amount of data available to fleets can be extremely overwhelming. Data overload is a real problem. 

How do you deal with it all? How do you know what’s essential to your operations?

Tip 1: Develop Key Performance Indicators

First, develop a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to measure and track. 

“Centralize your data into a system that can create data visualizations/dashboards to help track KPIs and report on actionable information. Transform data into actionable information, such as a driver efficiency score based on fuel economy, excessive braking, road speed, etc. Fault code information can be broken down into severity to determine which issues need to be addressed immediately versus which can be deferred to the next service,” said Lee Brodeur, vice president of lease operations and contract services for Mack Trucks

Don’t work in a silo; communicate with executive leadership when developing your KPIs.

“Fleet managers should work with their leadership team to establish a set of KPIs they can manage the business toward and focus the data collection efforts on supporting those KPIs. It’s easy to get bogged down by data that isn’t important. The KPIs can help them stay focused on what matters to their business,” said David Bieber, director of strategic markets at Mike Albert Fleet Solutions.

Tip 2: Focus on the Fleet KPIs

Developing KPIs is one thing, but you must focus on them. In today’s analytics-driven business landscape, data overload is very real.

“At times, trying to effectively interpret your data and get a true sense of your fleet’s performance can feel like trying to get a sip of water from a firehose. With that in mind, we often recommend maintaining an extremely sharp focus on the KPIs that are truly meaningful to the challenges or issues you’re trying to overcome. You’ll want to eliminate as much ‘noise’ as possible and determine what’s valuable and actionable,” said Trip O’Neil, vice president, strategic services for Holman.

Tip 3: Know What Metrics Matter

Do you know what metrics genuinely matter to your vocational fleet?

“The most critical data is real-time visibility of the shipment status and accurate KPIs around service levels and cost. This data must be easily accessible and accurate. It is critical to have tools and processes in place to ensure data integrity. Shippers should focus on the critical few metrics that drive their operations. Some of those include driver turnover, MPGs, idle time, OTD in full, fleet utilization, accidents and injuries, and cost per mile,” said Jeff Jackson, executive vice president operations of dedicated contract carriage for Penske Logistics

Tip 4: Centralize Data

Is your data all over the place? Are people using different programs to track similar information? 

“A centralized data warehouse is key. Too many people can be using separate spreadsheets and systems, and it’s overwhelming sifting through it all. There are many options, but whatever approach they choose, keeping all the data in one place so it’s easy to find and analyze what you need is essential. Second, automation and managing by exception can help make sense of the data overload and identify priorities,” said Joe Matukonis, business development at Mike Albert Fleet Solutions.

Wheels Donlen LeasePlan understands the need for more data.

“Evaluating and monitoring your fleet performance can be impossible without visibility and oversight into overall fleet operations. Look at consolidating the number of platforms you’re leveraging and leverage a tool that can give you quick access to reports and dashboard visibility into the KPIs you want to measure. By doing this, you can focus more on exception management and compliance, which can give you immediate feedback on how your fleet is performing,” said Michael Orozco, director of Truck Services for Wheels Donlen LeasePlan.

Many fleet managers who attempt to deal with all their fleet data independently can quickly become inundated.

“Consolidating and analyzing data across multiple systems for a total cost of ownership view can take a great deal of time. A huge advantage to working with a fleet management company is our management of data and using it to uncover cost savings to reduce total cost of ownership,” said Ben Hardesty, director of Fleet Partnership Solutions (FPS) at Element Fleet Management.

Tip 5: Prioritize Your Data

There is a ton of data coming off trucks, some immediately actionable and some that can have long-term implications.

“It’s best to prioritize what information is truly needed, so filter what’s important for the health of your trucks. Trucks can provide information such as location, trip data, fault codes, and other data. Of course, all data is important and very useful, especially when trying to troubleshoot and diagnose a vehicle fault and determine how your truck is performing,” said Willie Reeves, director of maintenance for PacLease.

Tip 6: Don’t Ignore New Tech

Are you continuing your fleet education?

“With the advent of electric trucks, they’re coming to work trucks now as well. It’s important to stay abreast of what’s happening with new technology. Read up on current developments. You don’t want to be behind the curve on technology. It will quickly become a reality in the marketplace,” said Reeves of PacLease.

Tip 7: Ask for Help

This is one area partnering with a fleet management provider can be highly beneficial.

“Most fleet management companies can deliver actionable insight about your fleet’s performance and easily bring those significant KPIs to the surface rather than simply providing mountains of meaningless data. Additionally, partnering with a fleet management provider can ensure this information aligns with your strategic objectives and will help you use this data as a catalyst for change. Truthfully, your fleet’s capacity for change is just as important, if not more so, as the insight this information delivers. Your fleet management provider should be able to make proactive recommendations to help navigate meaningful change,” said O’Neil of Holman.

Hardesty of Element Fleet Management agreed, noting that “complimentary consultants help make sense of the data by helping identify what fleet managers should focus on and providing recommendations to improve fleet performance.”

With the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and connected vehicles, it’s easy to enter an “analysis paralysis” situation due to a large amount of data. 

“As the world is aware of recent microchip shortages, today’s vehicles are loaded with tech and processors to help gather and monitor nearly every piece of data on the vehicle imaginable. At the same time, many of the tools that analyze and derive value from the data are also improving at an impressive speed,” said Dustin Sageman, corporate business development manager at Enterprise Fleet Management. “Even AI learning is being applied to help fleet managers quickly make the best decisions for their fleet based on data. Partnering with a company that can help you collect, analyze, and make decisions based on the data is a great way to ensure you’re making strategic, thoughtful business decisions with the information you have.”

Want to dig deeper? Once you know what data points are the most important to analytics, the next step is leveraging and utilizing the data to act. Check out how to leverage your data and take action today! 

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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