Trucking Management Software
Some people still want to run their trucking companies “old school” style on paper, but there are so many good options for trucking management software available right now that you really should let go of your pencils and log books and move into the modern world.
I love technology, but I do have to start out here with a good rule for software: Keep it simple. Better to stick with excel, QuickBooks, and simple trucking management software that you can adjust to fit your needs perfectly (thus saving thousands of dollars) than to go with a huge, enterprise level fleet management software package that you have to spend three weeks on the phone to figure out. (And then, once you’ve figured it out, realize you’ll never use more than 30% of the features).
That said, let’s look at the different ways different companies have chosen to design their software and how you will use it. There are several different kinds of trucking management software – you can have an online “software package” that lets you log into your account on the firm’s website from anywhere in the world (like Strategy Systems’s Strategy Live Trucking Software), or you can buy a software package that you install on the PCs in your office. The installed-on-your-computer version is, arguably, more secure, but they tend to be more expensive, and if you are just starting out and working both as the company owner and as one of the drivers, having a software package that you can log into from the road might be a major, major advantage.
Another issue is accounting software, and whether your management software is going to be able to talk to your accounting software. Its a lot easier if they do. The real benefit to computers, after all, is integrating everything and (when it is feasible) autmating as much of your business as possible. And being that keeping the books and managing billing and payroll is such a huge task, any edge you can get in this department can really make a trucking company owner’s life easier.
While seamless intregration is great, sometimes it is best to not recreate the wheel. QuickBooks is generally regarded as one of the primary accounting management software packages, so if your general trucking management software works with QuickBooks, you are probably well-enough hooked up to do everything you’d need to do. QuickBooks is also well-known to thousands of accountants across the country, so you’ll be able to skip a learning curve if you use trucking software that works with QuickBooks.
Other features you want in trucking management software include dispatch, shipment tracking and mapping. You will also want to keep driver logs and vehicle maintenance and operations costs (like fuel) logs. And then, of course, you want a robust way to keep track of every bit of information your customers could want, including a way to remember to check in on them for more work. And your accountant or CPA will want detailed tax records, including fuel tax logs.
All the bells and whistles of a program are grat, but the most-often skipped over part of the deal is on the backend. How much support can you get once you’ve bought this software, anyway? What you really need is the assurance that you can get someone from the company on the phone 7 days a week to solve whatever problem you are having NOW. This is especially true of your first few weeks in business.
Fleet management software is tempting to try, but proceed with caution. You really do need trucking company management software, and beyond that, you actually need software flexible enough to work seamlessly with the specific trucking niche you decide to be in.