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How to Build a Fleet Management App for Trucking Company?

Want to know how truly colossal global trade is? The total amount of merchandise traded around the world in 2017 amounted to $17.73 trillion, according to a World Trade Organization (WTO) report. That’s almost equal to the entire U.S GDP.

This massive global trade is only possible because of the global transport system. This massive supply chain has many components, for e.g., container shipping, freight trucking, etc.

A Cision PR Newswire report quotes a report by Transparency Market Research stating that the freight trucking market will reach US $ 6.252 trillion by 2025. This will bring with it new problems, however.

Trucking fleet management faces several key challenges. These are 3 of them:

  • Driver safety and productivity;
  • Implementing top-down cost-reduction initiatives;
  • Fuel price volatility.

Read more about these challenges in this great article: “The top 3 biggest challenges in fleet management”.

The industry hopes to overcome many of these challenges using technology. Consequently, the fleet management software market is predicted to grow to $28.66 billion in 2022, up from $12.08 billion in 2016, as a MarketsandMarkets report shows.

With mobile apps now ubiquitous, it isn’t surprising that they are heavily used in trucking fleet management too. Fleet Manager, Fleetio, ClearPathGPS, are some of the most commonly used trucking fleet management apps that are already making a big difference.

With ever growing global trade, you can be sure that the market for trucking fleet management mobile apps will only grow and grow. Whether you choose to create a custom app from scratch or build one using existing technology, you can cash in on this lucrative market.

In this article, I will explain how to build a fleet management app for a trucking company.

Contents

Fleet management app examples
Features required in a fleet management app
How to create a fleet management app
Other tools and guidelines for effective project execution
Project management approach
The cost of building a fleet management app

Fleet management app examples

Before I describe the fleet management app development, I will take you through a few examples of such apps.

Fleetio

Fleetio has a well-known fleet management app. They have Android as well as iOS apps. The app tracks trips and reports vehicle issues. The equipment information it provides helps in inspections.

The fleet management app is called “Fleetio Go”. The company also has a mobile app for parts, and it‘s called “Fleetio Parts”.

Track Your Truck

NetTrack is the mobile app provided by Track Your Truck. Their GPS-based tracking sends up-to-date information to users about their fleet. The company offers apps for Android, iOS, and tablets.

MiX Fleet Manager

MiX Telematics, a well-known telematics solution provider also provides fleet management solutions. They provide fleet management mobile app for both Android and iOS platforms. The app is called “MiX Fleet Manager Mobile”.

ClearPathGPS

ClearPathGPS offers Android and iOS apps. Users can track their route history, real-time status. Their virtual timecard reports feature is very helpful for trucking fleet management. The company also offers flexible hardware purchase of lease options for GPS devices.

Features required in a fleet management app

While the fleet management software market is booming, including the spread of mobile apps, the market is also highly competitive. Just a cursory glance of the above-mentioned mobile apps will make it clear that to make an impact in this market you need to build a great app. In other words, you need to provide great features. Let‘s see what features your app needs to have:

Real-time GPS vehicle tracking

This is the most important feature. Driver safety, the safety of the vehicle, fleet productivity etc. all depend on the ability of the fleet manager to track the vehicles in real time. Knowing where the vehicle helps in answering customer queries about delivery status.

The industry has also faced issues with unethical practices like drivers using the vehicle for personal use or side businesses. This result in reduced efficiency for the company, and in turn, loss. Real-time GPS tracking helps in establishing accountability. Read more about the importance of this feature in “Why fleet vehicle tracking is important for your business”.

Fuel-consumption monitoring

The optimal fuel consumption is a key driver for the success of any delivery fleet. However, the industry is plagued with inefficiencies here. There are multiple challenges, for e.g., spiraling cost-per-mile, and fuel theft. Suboptimal driving practices such as idling add to this.

A useful fleet management app needs to help the fleet manager to monitor the fuel consumption. A data-driven approach will enable fleet managers to tackle inefficient fuel-consumption. Read more about this feature in “Importance of fuel management for fleet managers”.

Optimizing the routes

It‘s a given that some routes are more profitable for a trucking company over others. However, identifying these profitable routes can‘t be left to mere intuition. A data-driven approach is required. The fleet management app should provide sufficient data to fleet managers. This will help them in optimizing the routes. Read more about the importance of route optimization in “Top 10 benefits of implementing route optimization software”.

Trip and vehicle report

This is rather self-explanatory. The app must enable trips and vehicle status reporting at a sufficiently granular level. Fleet managers will subsequently use analytics to manage their operations efficiently.

Generic features

A great fleet management app should also have the following generic features:

  • A simple ’User Interface‘ (UI);
  • Multi-platform support, for e.g., Android, and iOS;
  • Security, since some of the data captured, will be confidential information of the company.

How to create a fleet management app

A fleet management app development project requires careful planning and diligent execution. I will first explain the approach we will take. You need to do the following:

  1. Onboard a capable team of business analysts, UI/UX designers, mobile developers, and testers.
  2. Design the UI and develop the front-end.
  3. Use industry standard APIs for addressing fleet management app core functions.
  4. To ensure adequate focus on the front-end development, you need to get a ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) provider. The MBaaS provider will handle the mobile backend, therefore, your team can concentrate on the front-end.

This project to build a fleet management app will involve creating a ’Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) first. That’s a functional app, although not all “nice-to-have” features may be supported. Launching an MVP helps entrepreneurs get quick feedback from the market.

Subsequently, after analyzing the feedbacks, the team will need to enhance the app. This happens in multiple iterations. A project so many iterations shouldn‘t use the “Waterfall” methodology. I recommend the “Agile” methodology for this. Please read our guide “How to build an Agile development team” for more details.

A team to make a fleet management app

Your first step is to onboard a team to develop an app for a trucking company. The following skills are required in the team:

  • Business analysts;
  • UI/UX designers;
  • iOS developers;
  • Android developers;

The project needs end-to-end management. You need to onboard a project manager (PM). The PM needs modern PM methodology expertise. You can read “Top 7 project management methodologies in 2018” for more details. The PM needs to know project management best practices.

UI/UX design for the mobile app

A fleet manager is trying to address inefficiencies in a high-value business. The technology solution needs to be effective and easy-to-use. There are already established mobile apps, therefore, you need to present a compact UI.

The following considerations are important:

  1. Mobile navigation: You can follow our guide “Mobile navigation menu examples” for details.
  2. Designing icons: A fleet management app has several key functionalities however a mobile screen is small. You can’t use too many text labels, therefore, the UI needs icons. Read out guide “how to design the perfect icon for your mobile app” for instructions.
  3. A large trucking company would have a large fleet. The fleet manager may need to spend a significant amount of time with the app. The color scheme should be easy for them. I have earlier written about key trends in mobile app color schemes. Read about them in “8 Trends in Mobile App Color Scheme”.

API options for core fleet management functions

I will now explain how you can use a combination of APIs to develop an app for a trucking company. This eliminates the need to code everything from scratch since the APIs address core functions.

Fleetio API

Fleetio offers APIs for core fleet management functions. These APIs handle over 50 events, for e.g., vehicle status change, issue creation, issue resolution, etc. Repair work orders can also be tracked, including when they were created and their resolution status. Access their APIs here.

You can implement several fleet management functionalities with these APIs, for e.g., importing Odometer readings, triggering trouble-code alerts, updating fuel transactions, and automating accounting. The company provides extensive documentation for their APIs. Access the documentation here.

The API ’Getting started‘ guide is here. You can request a demo here. You need to contact them for the API pricing details.

SynX by Transpoco telematics API

Fleet maintenance automation solution provider Transpoco offers telematics API. They have a comprehensive telematics solution. Fleet telematics can help in many ways by collecting a variety of information. Vehicle behavior, fuel usage, speed, mileage, driver insights, etc. are various information that a telematics solution can collect in the context of fleet management.

With the Transpoco APIs, the app can help in allocating vehicles and schedule resources. The app can keep a tab on the current location of the vehicle. The app can calculate the arrival time of the vehicle. These are just a few examples. You can access their APIs here.

You can also incorporate other key features, for e.g., fuel management, fleet safety and security, driver identification, etc. To get their API pricing details and API documentation, you need to request for a consultation with the company.

Backend management for the mobile fleet management app

Mobile backend development and management take time. It’s also a complex undertaking. It involves the following:

  • Cloud infrastructure management;
  • Database provisioning;
  • Persistent storage management;
  • User management, and user authentication;
  • Security;
  • API integration;

To launch your app quickly, I recommend you use an MBaaS provider like Google Firebase. MBaaS providers address all the above, therefore, you can focus on the mobile front-end. Read our guide “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?” for more details.

Other tools and guidelines for effective project execution

This is an involved project. You need to invest in effective tools to execute this project smoothly. A mobile app will undergo frequent changes. Traditional waterfall method employs release management processes that are too slow for that.

You need an integrated process for test automation, build management, code deployment, and continuous integration. To keep up with frequent releases, you need DevOps tooling solutions. I recommend you use Google DevOps Solutions.

In addition to the above, you need a PM tool to successfully manage this project. I recommend JIRA. You can explore other options if you want, check our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018”. There are stringent guidelines for publishing apps in ’Google Play‘ and ’Apple App Store‘. You can access the respective guidelines here, and here.

Project management approach

The ’Scrum‘ technique is my recommended approach for this project. It‘s part of the larger ’Agile‘ body of knowledge. A ’Scrum team‘ is a small cross-functional team, i.e., developers and testers work together in close collaboration. Features of the app, i.e., requirements are provided by the ’Product owner‘ (PO). A document called the ’Product backlog‘ is used for listing them.

The PM acts as the ’Scrum master‘. He or she leads the scrum team in estimating the features. They also prioritize the features along with the project stakeholders. This way, multiple ’Sprints‘, i.e., iterations are planned, each with some features. ’Sprint planning meetings‘ are held to do this.

During the execution of the sprint, the team conducts a ’Daily stand-up meeting’ to discuss the project status. The scrum master uses these meetings to know about the project issues and to resolve them. At the end of the sprint, the features should be demonstrably ready. Then, in a meeting called ’Sprint review meeting’, the stakeholders approve the sprint subject to features working as desired.

The team also has a lessons-learned exercise after the sprint, which is called the ’Sprint retrospective meeting‘. You can read more about this in “How to build a Scrum development team”.

The cost of building a fleet management app

Contact the API providers for their pricing plans. Google Firebase displays their price on their website, and JIRA price is also available on their website. You need to separately estimate your development effort and manpower cost, which depends on your features. If you need to take professional help for this development project, check our guide “How to find the best software development company?