As more and more truckers dive into the computer age, their reliance on technology to enable them to operate smarter has increased dramatically. Regardless of whether you’re a fleet driver hoping to keep tabs on your miles, reimbursements, and logs, or an independent owner/operator that needs an all-in-one solution, there’s a software application for nearly everyone.
Until now, software applications came in one form — programs — that installed on your computer’s hard drive and were updated with manual data inputs. Recently, however, a new phenomenon has begun to show up in the computer world — cloud computing. Instead of installing on your computer’s hard drive, the user of a cloud application will access their account via the Internet by logging into their account and entering relevant information online.
Access to these cloud networks is restricted to those users with an Internet connection, but with a wireless connection as close as the nearest truck stop, rest area, or cellular telephone hookup, truckers can access their online accounts more easily than ever before. In addition, cloud applications also enable truckers to reach information about their business anywhere they have access to the web — from any computer.
Depending upon which software solution you decide upon, there are a variety of features available in the different trucking software offerings on the market. Some of the more common features include:
Income and expenses by trip – Because managing your cashflow is dependent upon keeping tabs on your income and expenses, the overwhelming majority of the trucking software applications utilize a per trip recording interface — which makes the most sense because that’s how you generate income and incur expenses.
Electronic Log Books (e-logs) — While you may still prefer keeping paper logs, many of the software programs have features that allow you to input you log data for electronic logbook record-keeping and compliance purposes. Some will make note of e-log errors and will automatically generate “gotcha” letters, which gives you the opportunity to correct any errors before an enforcement officer does it for you during a roadside inspection or during a D.O.T. compliance review.
Settlement Reconciliation — Reconciling settlement sheets can be a time-consuming process when done manually, but by entering information from settlement sheets, your computer can cross-reference information previously entered in other sections of the software to ensure that all expenses have properly been reimbursed by your carrier.
Customer Records — One of the biggest challenges owner/operators face is keeping track of their customer information. Most trucking software applications offer you the ability to maintain customer records, either through a basic software feature or through an upgraded version of the software.
Driver Records — While many owner/operators are one-man (or woman) operations, some owner/operators need to maintain driver records for a hired co-driver or other drivers that they employ.
Fuel Reports — You may be hundreds or thousands of miles from home, but you’re still responsible for maintaining accurate records of your trips so that you can file fuel reports. This feature gives you the ability to compile the necessary information to compile your fuel reports, while minimizing your expenses.
IFTA Reports — Any driver that has ever spent hours reconstructing trips in order to comply with IFTA mileage reporting requirements knows that this can be a real pain in the neck. However, IFTA reports are easier to generate because some of these trucking software applications take information from your trip sheets and automatically export it to the IFTA reporting feature of the software — freeing you to drive.
Truck and Trailer Maintenance Records — Not only are good maintenance records critical to your ability to properly maintain your equipment, it is also important for D.O.T. compliance purposes. Another reason that this is important is because your equipment will eventually be traded-in for newer equipment — and accurate record can help to ensure that your trade-in allowance is as high as possible.
Dispatch software – It’s no secret that the larger your fleet, the greater your need for software with greater performance capabilities. Having the ability to handle all aspects off truck and load dispatching is critical to your success – and dispatch software provides many of the features that can enable you to manage all of the moving parts of your business so that your business can operate much more efficiently. [click to continue…]