into the implementation phase. Make sure you wholly understand what you need,

compared to what your software vendors offer. Failing to do so can drastically damage your ability to achieve your goal. At the very worst, this type of experience can lead to the costly decision of abandoning the project and missing out on a major opportunity. Many of these issues can be easily avoided when you lead with a thorough vendor evaluation process. It is critical to ask the right questions. This ensures you are not only selecting the best solution but also the best fit that is right for your business needs. The following several questions will help to start your organization’s evaluation process:

What Will We Solve? Gather all of the staff that can impact the outcome and

ask for input to identify the key metrics or issues that you are trying to solve with the system software. For example, if the key objective is increased uptime for equipment, then the system software that is selected must also tackle uptime management. If safety and reliability metrics are key, then the system software must have functionality to support monitoring safety requirements.

Will It Integrate With Existing System Software? Once your team has identified the key requirements,

it is vital to determine which other remote or back-office systems must be connected to the software. This can op- timize the flow of data between all required applications, and it includes the assets, monitoring systems, vehicle telematics, human resources, accounting software and so on. Be careful not to be sold on system software that is near the end of its life. If the technology is no longer sup- ported, the software will not be easy to service.

Which System Is Our Industry Using? The best way to obtain a clear answer about which system software is working the best is to ask fleets like yours. Reach out to your friends and colleagues across the industry, visit trade shows, find out which software appli- cations they put to work and why. Then, ask how these are working for them. Also ask supplier sales respresentatives for case studies and testimonials from existing customers. A truly powerful software solution should come with

a group that supports you through all of the issues that are part of introducing the new system software. Be sure that implementation plans, services, previews, training, and 24/7 support, are available from the vendor. A lack of these services can often be a signal that there could be a lack of future support. ●

Pudlewski is the retired vice president of fleet operations, procurement and maintenance for Laidlaw and is a member of the National School Transportation Association Hall of Fame. 25

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