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11. November 2020 Uncategorized

Fleet management Excel: the disadvantages compared to software

Author: Luke Tilsley

Spreadsheet programs such as Excel or Google Spreadsheet are tools that are used daily in administration. Since these are already at hand, many companies also use them to manage their company fleets. The users are often not aware that they are accepting unnecessary costs, using high levels of company resources, and could be potentially leaving the company open to legal risk! Excel and Co. are designed for simple spreadsheet data management but not for complex data processing such as what is required within fleet management. For example, have you ever tried to report on, or understand the additional kilometers in a vehicle fleet managed in Excel? Or have you tried to manage appointments such as driver’s license checks with 100 vehicles? If you haven’t succeeded, it’s not a surprise. These sorts of tasks can be very complex and require a lot of hard work. Not to mention the potential risk for error. 

In this article, we deal with the problems outlined. For this purpose, we will first explain the technical limitations of Excel and the technical differences between Excel solutions and professional fleet management software. Then we will show you the four main problems in fleet management, which result from the technical limitations.

Technical background

First of all, we would like to express the highest appreciation to all those who have built their own fleet management solution in Excel. We have seen a few of these over the years and were amazed at the technical skills of the developers of these Excel solutions. Despite all the astonishment, we also found that complex Excel solutions, unfortunately, lacked an overview at some point – which was due to the technical design of Excel and not to the users.

From a technical point of view, the main problem with Excel in fleet management is that it is a spreadsheet program and not a database system. As a spreadsheet program, Excel is designed to record and evaluate figures and texts in tabular form. Therefore, Excel is not suitable for processing data with more than two determining factors. In addition, Exel is designed for data processing and not for handling complex and dynamic processes and their automation.

Consequences in fleet management

Now that we’ve looked at the technical limitations of Excel as a fleet management tool, let’s take a look at the problems it poses for managing your fleet. The four main problems are:

  • Missing data overview
  • Lost potential for savings
  • Time-consuming
  • High susceptibility to errors
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Problem # 1: Lack of data overview

Even with small fleets, the number of data points to be processed quickly increases immeasurably. Purchase contracts, leasing contracts, fuel billing, driver’s license checks are just a few of the data sources to be mentioned. A large number of tables are required to process this data in a structured manner in Excel. Often, for example, a table is used to assign drivers to vehicles, one to check the mileage, one for insurance contracts, one for damage that has occurred, and one for upcoming appointment coordination – to name just a small proportion of these tables.

But even the most carefully maintained collection of tables does not make the life of a fleet manager any easier. Since there is no complete data overview in one place, these tables have to be linked to one another in a confusing way in order to make analyzes. As a result of these links, the results of the analyzes are usually inconclusive. When negotiating with insurance companies, for example, there is a lack of clarity about which damage was caused by the customer, or when purchasing a vehicle, how high the full costs of a vehicle are including all damage and fuel consumption.

Data couldn’t be more important when considering your legal obligations. As with the cost overview, an appointment overview also requires an Excel sheet for each type of appointment. Because, for example, the driver accident prevention regulations, the vehicle accident prevention regulations, and the driver’s license inspection are recurring appointments that must be entered continuously. Each upcoming appointment must also be coordinated and communicated to the driver by email. Then of course you have to enter whether the appointment/owner’s obligations were carried out. During the driver’s license check, for example, you must be able to prove that this has taken place – this is the only way to ensure legal protection.

Remember, without a clear view of your fleet it’s very easy to lose control of your fleet, fast.

  • Missing kilometer control
  • Insufficient overview of costs
  • Missing schedule overview and schedule control

Advantage of software in fleet management: In the Avrios platform, you can easily import your data from various sources and gain a clear and transparent overview of your entire fleet anywhere. Allowing time to be better spent on bigger company priorities such as cost-saving and clear, correct, and meaningful reporting. 

Problem # 2: wasted savings potential

Carrying out professional and efficient cost reporting in Excel is an impossibility. Due to the inadequate cost overview and the inexact cost statement, cost analyzes are usually not meaningful. This in turn means that weak points cannot be discovered and savings potential cannot be identified. For example, you do not know whether a specific type of cost is higher than the average cost of vehicles of the same class. Or whether the fuel costs of a vehicle are so high because the tires are unsuitable or the driver has to change his driving style.

Advantage of software in fleet management: In the Avrios mobility management platform, your costs are automatically recorded and assigned to the individual vehicles and the respective cost type. This clear cost breakdown enables cost drivers and cost outliers to be recognized immediately. This enables measures to be taken immediately.

Problem # 3: Time consuming

Both in Excel and in Google Spreadsheet, all data must be entered manually and in some cases entered in different locations. This manual recording takes a lot of time, which is why fleet managers invest many hours of their working time in it. This high effort makes it impossible for them to keep all data up to date. This means, due to such a high amount of time being spent inputting data other important tasks – such as comparing leasing offers – also remain unresolved.

Advantage of software in fleet management: the data collection is automated in the Avrios platform. This enables a 40% reduction in administrative work.

Problem # 4: High susceptibility to errors

On the one hand, the manual data maintenance in Excel means that the data collection is incomplete. On the other hand, manual entry is prone to errors to a very high degree. The serious problem here, however, is that binding decision are then made on the basis of this incomplete and sometimes inaccurate data. In order to be able to make such serious decisions optimally, a correct, complete, and continuously managed database would be necessary.

For example – In the case of leasing contracts, comparisons must be made with the previous contract and the driving style of the respective driver – this is the only way to identify the most optimal leasing contract with the lowest total costs. Another example of far-reaching consequences is damage reports. In order to have a strong negotiating position when negotiating the premium amount with your insurance company, you need precise damage statistics. You also need these damage statistics in order to be able to calculate which deductible is optimal for you. With incorrect and incomplete data, wrong decisions can be made here, which have a huge impact on your costs.

Advantage of software in fleet management: The Avrios platform has interfaces to external data sources. Due to these interfaces, incoming invoices or offers are automatically recorded and digitized by the system. This means that manual data acquisition and the associated susceptibility to errors are completely eliminated. All data is therefore always complete. Analysis, calculations, damage statistics, and comparison of offers are also carried out automatically with just a few clicks.

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