Seven reasons why a fleet management excel spreadsheet for free won't cut it

So, you’re on the hunt for a free fleet management excel spreadsheet. Maybe your organisation has a shared fleet and you’re trying to implement new systems and processes to better manage odometer readings, registration dates, and servicing schedules. Maybe you’re also trying to set up a way to streamline your fleet booking process so that staff can see what vehicles are available. Naturally an Excel spreadsheet seems like the easiest way to get the ball rolling

And while yes, you can technically get away with juggling it all via a spreadsheet, we believe there is a much better way to manage your fleet. Read on to learn why you’d be doing both yourself and your organisation a huge disservice by using a free fleet management spreadsheet in 2020.

1. Manual data entry

There’s no easy way to say this. You’ll be doing a fair amount of data entry if you decide to use a free fleet management spreadsheet template. That’s fine if all you want to do is track each vehicle’s odometer readings. However, if you’re looking to gain any deeper insights about your fleet, you’re going to need to capture a lot more data.

Do you want to know what your fleet’s utilisation is? What about an individual vehicle’s use? If you do, make sure to capture the time and date each vehicle starts and finishes each trip. By capturing that data, you’ll be able to apply some mathematical formulas to calculate what period of time your vehicles are being used, as opposed to just sitting idle in the car park.

Do you want to understand what type of trips your staff are taking? If that’s a ‘yes’ you’ll need to make sure you capture the destination for each trip too.

You can see how entering data can quickly become a job all of its own. The thing to remember is that it might only be a couple of minutes here, and a quarter of an hour there. But when you include the time chasing up staff for logbooks they haven’t filled in, it all adds up to a significant chunk of time. Time you or your staff can better spend doing pretty much anything else. Even if it's watching cat videos on YouTube.

2. You'll have to rely on logbooks

In order to enter data into your fleet management excel spreadsheet, you’ll need to capture it first. To do that you’ll need to start using logbooks.

If you’ve managed a fleet for any length of time, you’ll know how much of a pain logbooks are. They’re a pain for staff to fill in. They’re a pain for you to chase when staff inevitably don’t fill them in because they’d rather be doing anything else. The thing is, by going down the route of relying on a free fleet management spreadsheet, you’ll be inflicting logbooks on all your staff.

3. Lack of automated alerts

Part of the responsibility of a fleet manager is to ensure the vehicles in your fleet pass an array of milestones. Vehicles need to be serviced regularly, and insurance and registration both sneak up at least once a year. By using a spreadsheet to manage your fleet, you’ll be required to track all these events manually. While that might be alright if your fleet is small, once your fleet starts to grow, keeping on top of everything will get very unmanageable. The last thing you want to realise is that one of your vehicles has missed a service and its mileage is closer to the next scheduled service than the one that’s gone! All because you forgot to check the spreadsheet or set a reminder in Outlook.

4. Difficult to maintain the 'one single truth'

Have you ever struggled to maintain a single version of a shared document? If other people have access, there’s always the possibility you could be working on duplicated documents. All it takes is for one employee to save a version of the spreadsheet from the shared server to their work computer. Now you've got two versions running in parallel. If this continues for any significant period of time, you’ll have a tough job consolidating the two sets of data.

And there’s always the risk that the document gets deleted accidentally.

5. No ability to scale as your fleet grows

A free fleet management excel spreadsheet won’t scale with the growth of your fleet. For every new vehicle your workload will grow. You could end up spending more time managing the spreadsheet than you will actually managing the fleet.

6. Difficult to attribute infringements

It’s inevitable that at one point or another an infringement is going to hit your desk. Whether it’s a speeding fine or a disgruntled member of the public, you’ll have the unenviable task of trying to figure out who was driving the vehicle when the infringement occurred. Once again, this all hinges on whether or not your staff have been diligent in filling out the vehicle logbook. If the data is missing, you’ll struggle to attribute the infringement to the right driver.

7. Near impossible to calculate taxes and offsets

Do your staff use your vehicles for personal journeys? Do they travel on private roads? Then there’s a good chance your accounts department will want to use the data from your fleet management solution to calculate Fringe Benefit Tax and Fuel Tax Credits in Australia, or RUC in New Zealand. In order to accurately calculate the amounts that your organisation can claim back, you’ll need accurate data. But it’s not always easy, and we’ve seen instances where organisations have under reported their claims simply because the time spent isn’t worth the return.

We understand that as fleet managers your time is valuable. As you can see from the list above, a free fleet management spreadsheet might sound enticing because it won’t make a dent in your operating budget. However, in reality it’s just inviting a lot of unnecessary work for you and your staff. You need a solution that’s going to take care of everything listed above, while minimising the amount of admin required to keep it running.

That’s why we developed our fleet management solutions. PoolCar is our fleet booking solution, and it can easily show you vehicle attribution and utilisation data. Plus, it scales with your fleet, so your workload doesn’t grow exponentially for every new vehicle acquisition. If it’s paired with a telematics solution, you can also track vehicle location and odometer readings for taxation purposes. You can even set automated alerts about vehicle servicing, registration, and insurance. Because it is cloud-based software that your staff can access anywhere they have Internet access, it will be your single source of truth.

And here's the best part: You won’t have to do any manual data entry and your staff won’t need to record their trips.

We know that’s a win-win in everyone’s book.

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