Clean Data, Clean Fleet

ARI’s Sustainable Strategies Manager Brian Matuszewski publishes a regular blog on sustainable fleet strategies on Fleet Management Weekly. Below is his post that was published in October, 2015.

Data is power. That’s why companies large and small, and across every industry and in every sector are investing tremendous resources into the task of tackling Big Data. Businesses everywhere are looking for better ways to collect it, manage it, and – most important – transform it into useful, actionable information.

Fleets are no different. Over the past 10-15 years, we have seen the fleet industry come to embrace the idea of using data to create leaner, more efficient, more sustainable fleets. Fleet managers no longer have to guess if their fleet is performing like other best-in-class fleets; they can develop and run reports in just seconds that show – often down to the specific vehicle – whether their cars, trucks and equipment are meeting the standards and metrics they have set for the fleet. But if the data you are using to create those reports isn’t clean – in other words: accurate, well organized, formatted and standardized – then you’ll never achieve the kind of results you may be expecting and your fleet will not be as sustainable or as efficient as it could be.

There is perhaps nothing more important a fleet can do to drive world-class results than to be sure the data they are collecting and using to evaluate their performance truly represents their fleet. It should reflect the fleet’s size and composition, as well as the usage and/or driving patterns of the drivers, and that data should be organized in a way that is easy to access and understand. The data should also be current and (this should go without saying) accurate. Computer scientists have a commonly known saying: “garbage in, garbage out” – in other words, if the data you are putting into the system is not sound, the results you get from that data will not be sound either. Without clean, solid data, a fleet manager is just driving blind.

Organizing and managing data empowers a fleet manager to uncover opportunities for improvement. Having clean data also empowers other fleet stakeholders to provide knowledgeable, targeted recommendations as well. For example, if a business is considering whether to add alternative fuel systems to its fleet, an alternative fuel systems vendor will be better positioned to identify which vehicles in the fleet would be the best candidates for conversion with a high level of accuracy if that fleet has well-organized, up-to-date clean data. Conversely, a fleet that may not know how much fuel its vehicles are using or where the vehicles are driving will struggle simply to determine how or if an alternative fuel program might impact their bottom line. Clean data helps your fleet partners and other stakeholders provide timely and tailored solutions, saving you both time and money at the end of the day.

If you don’t have a robust program for collecting and managing your data, developing a program that keeps the data clean and well organized from the start would naturally be the recommended course of action. Of course, many fleets do have existing caches of data, which may be in various states and even stored in various locations or forms. The good news is that simply organizing and standardizing whatever data you do have will go a long way towards helping you gain transparency into your fleet operations and working on developing best-in-class sustainable solutions. Invest in cleaning your data now – it will save you significant time and money later.