01.24
2020

Recap: Actsoft at Geotab Connect 2020

As you may know, last week we had the opportunity to be a part of this year’s Geotab Connect event. Hosted in San Diego, the event brought together fleet industry experts and leaders to share their knowledge, demonstrate their services, and give insight into the future of fleet. For us at Actsoft, in addition to being a major platform to showcase our solution, it also gave us myriad opportunities to learn even more about, and connect with, our newest partner, Geotab. I took some time to sit down with some members of the team that attended the event to learn more about their takeaway.

The event, which kicked off last Tuesday, included a three-person fireside chat. One of the panelists was our very own CEO, Tom Mitchell. During the discussion, Mitchell, along with Geotab’s Neil Cawse and Lytx’s Brandon Nixon, discussed a variety of topics, including the future of AI in fleet telematics, integration between multiple telematics solutions, the yet-to-be-seen impact of 5G, and electric vehicles’ role in the future of fleet.

The most exciting avenue for Mitchell, however, was one that explored further potential mutual benefits between Geotab and Actsoft’s partnership, especially in light of some news that Geotab revealed during the conference. “Geotab is monstrous,” Mitchell said. “They just surpassed two million subscribers. They have their hands in a ton of different things.”

Geotab already dominates the fleet-tracking space. With their massive customer base and the technology packed into their GO devices, they’re able to deliver all the information fleet operators need to know about how their vehicles are functioning and how they’re being treated. But as Mitchell pointed out, when companies that excel in their individual fields join forces, it results in a better, all-encompassing package. “You can’t go out there and find a single-source solution.”

Andrew Velker, Executive Vice President of Sales at Actsoft, seconded this notion. “There are very few companies that tell the full story like Geotab,” he told me. “We take it outside the vehicle.” This further demonstrates the importance of combining efforts. Rather than one company attempting to do everything, multiple can work together and excel in their areas of expertise, offering customers a much more robust solutions package.

And if the crowds at our booth were any indication, fleet operators agree. “I couldn’t believe the number of people swarming at our booth,” Mitchell said.

Connect 2020 not only gave us an opportunity to further strengthen our partnership with Geotab, but also to begin a dialogue with other companies we might work with. “[The event] was about strengthening our relationship with Geotab and creating different partnerships, all centered around Geotab,” said Kevin Thigpen, Chief Operating Officer at Actsoft. “It was focused on domestic and international partnership potential. I met a lot of different groups at one event, making it a cost-effective and efficient solution.”

Getting so much face time with various representatives from Geotab — there were at least 300 employees in attendance — was another huge win, in particular for Trent Cherin, Vice President of Global Strategic Alliances at Actsoft. Having that in-person interaction was a great opportunity to discuss the future of Actsoft and Geotab’s partnership, such as the integration of the platforms. “We want to provide different functionality from within the Geotab platform,” Cherin explained, “to give existing Geotab customers the same look and feel they’re used to, but with new information.”

The event also gave us the opportunity to seek out new potential resellers for our Encore solution. Rod Shaddeau, Actsoft’s Indirect Reseller Channel Manager, said of the event: “We met with more than 20 Geotab resellers. I have a ton of follow-up with these 20-plus [individuals].” (Note: Visit our Resellers page if you’d like more information on how you can become an Encore reseller.)

One common takeaway that everyone in attendance was in agreement about was: Big data is the next big thing. “Geotab is huge into big data and AI,” Mitchell said. “I see us doing more with the data we are collecting.”

Thigpen agreed, saying, “I see us further integrating our platform and data with Geotab and leveraging new APIs to integrate with big data. We’ll change the conversation we have with our customers. We’ll be able to pull data from multiple sources to help customers better understand their businesses through trends and predictive analysis. [Through this,] you change the paradigm of your relationship.”

“How does a company differentiate itself?” Velker posed. “More data and better technology. They’ll rise above other companies not doing that because they’re stuck in the past.” He echoed Thigpen’s sentiments, saying we’ll be able to use all of this data to help make companies smarter and paint a clearer picture so they’re better equipped to make decisions on the fly.

Suffice it to say, Geotab Connect 2020 was an exciting event for us, one rife with ample opportunities to grow and collaborate with Geotab and its ever-growing family of resellers and customers. We’re excited about what the future holds and how this partnership will continue to flourish and help us provide our own customers with even more enhanced solutions.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

01.22
2020

Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler: The Solution to Work Order Inefficiencies

In one of last week’s blog posts, we discussed some of the difficulties a field service company faced without having a tool to plan out their mobile employees’ work orders in advance. In addition to productivity and brand reputation suffering due to confusions in scheduling, the company was also spending too much money on paper documents to instruct staff that were handwritten and, at times, illegible.

Our flagship workforce management software Encore now enables businesses to manage workloads ahead of time with its Dispatching Scheduler feature. Available exclusively to users of the solution’s Ultimate tier, the Dispatching Scheduler provides an easy, yet intuitive way for your team to plan out customer visits and increase its efficiency.

Features of Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler:

  • A color-coded dashboard that provides easy identification for work order progress.
  • The ability to create service delivery windows for employees dispatched to new customer locations.
  • A feature for reassigning pending orders to new workers on the fly.
  • Calendar and Schedule rows that display availabilities, last known employee locations, and current assignments.
  • The ability to see lists of unassigned orders and drag and drop them onto user schedules.


Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler dashboard.

Benefits of Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler:

  • Distribute workloads more evenly.
  • Optimize employee schedules for higher efficiency.
  • Save time and money with intuitive scheduling that helps to keep employees informed.
  • Provide customers with more accurate service delivery times.
  • Graphics-based scheduling allows your staff to work faster and more interactively.

When applied to the field service use case, it’s easy to see how this powerful new capability could instantly improve the company’s processes. Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler allowed the business’s mobile employees to have easy access to their daily schedules, eliminating unnecessary back-and-forth communication from the office to the field and giving them a much more accurate timeframe for service deliveries. Due to both an increase in productivity and efficiency with the Dispatching Scheduler, their business was able to save significant revenue and also increase its opportunities from a strengthened reputation amongst its customer base.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

 

01.21
2020

Communication is Key!

Actsoft aids in utility company response times.

As much as we would like to avoid it, accidents happen. Trees and power lines fall on roads, water pipes burst, and traffic lights go out. There isn’t much we can do about it except hope that the utility companies that handle the messes are well prepared. Responding quickly to emergencies, as well as communicating information efficiently, are two extremely important factors that make up a successful utility company. They’re both essential to help assure a timely response, and guarantees they have all the information needed to correct the problem.

Communication is key! Our solutions help utility companies by bridging the gap between the accident and the solution.

Actsoft combines GPS and wireless technology to maximize productivity.

  • Reduce response times in critical situations.
  • Date, time, and GPS location–stamped reports give indisputable proof of service.
  • Collect timely and accurate field data.
  • Provide factual data for regulatory and compliance reporting.
  • Send and receive accurate, up-to-the-minute updates and changes.
  • Reduce unproductive trips to the office.
  • Panic button notifies the office immediately in case of an emergency or dangerous situation.

Sometimes when we see the utility trucks on the side of the road with employees fast at work, we assume they just magically appear there. Not true. It takes a coordinated effort between the dispatchers and drivers to get each truck where they need to be. And that effort is made much easier with our software.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

01.17
2020

How to Establish a Team of Safe Fleet Drivers

We’ve talked about ways to help keep your drivers safe on the road when perilous winter conditions introduce hazardous obstacles. But what measures can you take to make sure your drivers know how to stay safe in general? After all, these are people you’re entrusting with your costly vehicles, and who are ostensibly serving as representatives of your company to anyone they drive past. Not to mention, there are lives at stake whenever they’re behind the wheel. There are a few steps you can take, before ever handing the keys of your vehicles over, to help make sure your drivers know what they’re doing.

Run a background check.
It goes without saying that you should always check to make sure a new driver has a valid license. But have you also looked into their past? Running a driving history check can give you further insight into their abilities. If a candidate’s past is checkered with a series of violations, it’s probably a good idea to reconsider bringing them on board.

Test them.
When considering onboarding a new driver, do you simply trust them based on their resumes? While a storied history in the trucking industry is a good indicator that they have the chops to drive for your company, it never hurts to present them with a written test to measure their actual knowledge of the rules of the road.

Buddy up!
Once you’ve decided to bring someone onto the team, consider pairing them with one of your more seasoned drivers, at least during a probationary period. This person will be able to help the newbie acclimate to a new vehicle, give them tips based on experience, and assure that they’re following best practices that both keep everyone safe and represent your company properly.

Create a driver safety policy.
Most businesses have some sort of employee handbook that lays out the rules of the workplace. In running a fleet-based operation, this handbook should include a driver safety policy. Present stipulations that reinforce the idea that all employees must adhere to the parameters of the law as a condition of employment, with no exceptions. Highlight the dangers of distracted driving, to include cell phone use, driving while fatigued, and even eating while on the move. Be sure to regularly revisit the policy, as incidents that arise over time may give you reasons to modify it.

Invest in GPS monitoring.
With Encore, our flagship mobile workforce managing software, administrators have the ability to monitor their employees from anywhere. You can receive alerts that give you insight into drivers’ safety practices, including speeding and hard accelerating/braking, actions that indicate unsafe practices are taking place. With these notifications, you’re able to make more informed decisions about your drivers, giving you the option to address situations before they get out of hand and someone is hurt.

Safe driving is one of the most important facets of any fleet. Without it, your reputation, your vehicles, and people’s lives are at risk. It’s your job to do everything you can to recruit the best drivers available. It’s ours to help make sure they continue to follow the rules.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

01.15
2020

Field Service Scheduling: Dispatchers Hold The Keys To Success

In order for a business to be successful, employees need to work together as a unit. For field service companies, the dispatcher plays a vital role, fulfilling customer expectations while monitoring operations and workflow. Dispatchers must respond to critical situations, ensuring that every job site has an available worker and that all units are functioning at maximum efficiency and all services are performed in a timely manner.

One way dispatchers can stay organized is to incorporate a field service planning or scheduling technology. Automating the scheduling process enables dispatchers to support more workers and deliver a better overall experience for the customer.

Field Technologies Online explains how the role of automation and its three associated technologies can be summed up:

“Three technologies are required to provide first-class service and allow a single dispatcher to support up to 100 service techs. First, there must be an enterprise software system in place that contains critical data, including work order information, customer and contract details — including SLAs — and information about the technicians themselves. Second, service technicians whose routes may change during the day need a mobile device (smartphone, pad, or specialized device). Finally, there must be a scheduling optimization engine that is as responsive to schedule changes as your business needs it to be. If routes change dynamically or in instances where you have very demanding SLAs, then a scheduling optimization engine that cannot respond in near real-time or plans the route in batch, is simply inadequate.”

The work of a dispatcher is multi-faceted. Routes and schedules are ever changing, resulting in the need for an automated process. The use of a scheduling tool significantly decreases the amount of time it would take even the most experienced dispatcher to deploy a work crew. This increase in efficiency markedly improves customer service and provides critical support to technicians in the field.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

01.14
2020

How Workforce Productivity Can Suffer Without a Solution for Scheduling

For companies with a mobile workforce, coordination and efficient dispatching are key. However, a business’s productivity and finances can both suffer if work orders aren’t scheduled in advance.

For example, a field service company experienced multiple issues with their dispatching process, as they didn’t have a way to effectively plan out customer visits by their mobile employees. Their team relied on a workforce management application that allowed them to make changes to staff assignments on the fly, but the software lacked a solution for scheduling jobs in advance. This led to a reduction in productivity, as time was being unnecessarily wasted during constant back-and-forth communication from the office to the field. Customers of the business were also becoming increasingly frustrated due to service delivery windows that were either inaccurate or too vague.

The field service company was also spending too much revenue on paper costs and manually printed schedules that were difficult to read and only available to be seen at the office. Once out and driving to customer locations, their staff were required to make calls back to a single dispatcher at company headquarters to receive further instructions, as they had no way to view their schedules from a mobile device. All of these inefficiencies combined to present their workforce with a barrier to optimized productivity and savings.

Stay tuned for the solution to this problem in next week’s blog post.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

 

01.10
2020

How to Create Company Culture With a Remote Team

Company culture. Historically, it has always been a major component of any place of business. But as the concept of remote, or dispersed, workforces continues to gain in popularity, it begs the question: How does one cultivate that culture when so many members of their team are rarely in the same room at the same time?

When it comes to managing a remote team, it’s important that you keep those scattered team members front of mind so they don’t begin to feel neglected or as though they aren’t truly a part of the group. Even though they may not always be physically present, there are a few steps you can take to help maintain a healthy company culture and keep everyone involved.

Create a Culture Code
When everybody works in the same office, it doesn’t take long for newcomers to pick up on what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable. But the same can’t be said for remote workers. Particularly if these are people interacting with customers or clients, it’s important to create an official guide that highlights the company’s values, along with how they’re expected to behave when engaging in official company business.

Write it Down, Send it Out
It can be easy to forget that, while information spreads around the average office quickly by word of mouth, remote employees don’t have that same luxury. Distributing regular written communications that keep everyone in the know is a simple way to rectify this. As new, important developments arise, include this information in a weekly email (or internal message board … whatever works best for you), so everyone is as up to date as possible.

Check in Regularly
In the office, you’re bound to routinely run into your team, so it’s easy to have a quick catch-up and get updated on things. But with remote employees, those chance encounters don’t happen. Instead, book periodic check-ins; this keeps you in the loop with what they’re up to, and it keeps them feeling like a part of the team. You can even take a step further and arrange for monthly video conferences that bring the whole workforce together for a group update.

Keep Everyone Connected
Besides email and phone, how are your employees able to regularly stay in touch? Giving them access to a digital chat tool, where they can shoot off messages in real time and get responses from anyone who happens to be listening/reading, can help everyone feel more a part of the team. Services like Slack, which is particularly beneficial for its chat room–style feature, can serve as a virtual watercooler of sorts.

Schedule Face-to-Face Time
At the end of the day, nothing beats good old fashioned in-person interaction. Depending on the size of your company and your budget, the frequency of these encounters can be monthly, quarterly, or even annually. The point is: Bringing everyone together in the same room helps remote employees connect with their colleagues on a level that emails and even video chat doesn’t allow.

With just a few extra steps taken, even the most widely dispersed team of mobile workers can still develop and maintain a company culture that works for everyone involved and leaves no one feeling excluded.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

01.08
2020

Mobile Technology: All Hands On Deck

These days, technology is constantly and quickly changing. Just when you think you have the coolest device ever, an update comes out. Keeping up with current trends can be a challenge, so choosing the best mobile resource management (MRM) solution geared toward your needs can be a daunting task.

Just as you want the latest technology for personal use, you also want the best solution for your business. While providing the latest and greatest technology to your employees is essential, you also want to select a device or solution that is user-friendly and easy to operate.

Sharing Information Is Key
When selecting a mobile solution for employees, it is important to choose one that allows you to share information and transmit it from the office to the field. There are so many variables to take into consideration when researching and choosing the right application: product training, ease of integration with existing systems, and excellent customer service to support your application.

Sarah Howland, editor-in-chief of Field Technologies magazine, explained this in a real-life example:

“A friend of mine got into a fender bender and after a frustrating time spent with the other party involved and the police officer onsite filling out the accident report, she asked for a copy of it. Having noted during the conversation that the officer’s car was equipped with a rugged laptop computer and mobile printer, she assumed her request was a simple one. However, the officer replied by saying, ‘I can give you my handwritten notes and the incident number, but I don’t know how to work that thing.’”

Want Not, Waste Not
In order to get the most out of your technology, you must explore all of its capabilities and use it on a regular basis. Purchasing an effective technology is only the first step. When you deploy it, you must do so in a way that every user receives effective and adequate training. With workers in the field, logistics can prove to be a challenge. Training on devices can be best achieved via:

  • In-house methods and modules
  • Video tutorials
  • Step-by-step learning manuals

Get the most out of your mobile technology. Research the best technology for your business needs. Train yourself on how to properly use the device. Share information about the product’s capabilities with your team members. Use the product as often as you can. Your MRM solution should not only increase efficiency for your business, but should also be one in which your employees feel comfortable using.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

01.07
2020

Ways to Optimize Your Company’s Communication

Communication is essential to good business, and if it’s a skill that’s suffering at your workplace, there are undoubtedly hidden costs that come into play. Poor communication can result in lowered morale at best, and incredibly costly mistakes at worst. In fact, according to The Holmes Report, the total cost of ineffective communication for 400 surveyed companies with at least 100,000 employees was a staggering $37 billion. Given these potentially catastrophic results, here are four steps you can take to make sure your organization is firing on all cylinders when it comes to efficiency and clear directives.

Ensure proper email etiquette is in place.

Even something as simple as training your employees with a quick, 10-minute video on best practices for email communication is a great way to help verify that things are conveyed clearly, concisely, and professionally. Also, emphasize the importance of spelling and grammar checks across your organization; whether it’s responding internally to a coworker or manager, or externally to a business customer, it’s always important to ensure that communications remain accurate so that respect for the recipient is consistently upheld.

Schedule meetings that are actually productive.

Meetings that accomplish nothing are more than just a waste of time; they can harm workforce productivity if they’re taking people away from their work and nothing’s being done. To mitigate this, define a handful of specific goals that the meeting needs to accomplish prior to its start time, and once those goals are all accomplished, end the meeting promptly. This helps everyone remain focused on finding solutions, rather than on arbitrary conversations. Asking the individuals in the meeting for feedback about your strategies also welcomes additional diversity to the discussion, which is another essential element to good workplace communication.

Implement an efficient chain of command.

For certain forms of internal communication, such as purchase order or product collateral requests, it’s always a smart idea to establish protocols. Following standard operating procedures enables your team members to reach out to the correct individuals for these requests from the start, eliminate unnecessary back-and-forth, and ensure that the correct materials are received expediently.

Use Encore to coordinate with employees that work away from the office.

Our flagship mobile application, Encore, can help you more efficiently communicate with your internal and mobile staff by allowing your administrators to send out new instructions to them on the fly, receive collected data from the field digitally, and more. As the most powerful solution listed here for helping keep your communication inefficiencies to a minimum, Encore works to provide companies like yours with features for high savings.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

 

01.03
2020

California Proposes Electric Fleet Mandate

It’s no secret that the hype around electric vehicles has steadily proliferated in recent years. But this is mostly limited to personal vehicles. It still has largely bypassed the fleet industry. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly it involves the cost to replace an entire fleet of vehicles. Whether you’re a smaller business with limited resources, or in charge of a giant fleet and aren’t ready to take that plunge, some changes on the horizon may change your perspective.

Last month, California — which is single-handedly the world’s fifth-largest economy —  environmental representatives congregated in Sacramento to speak at the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) hearing. During this meeting, they discussed implementation of the toughest emissions standards for the trucking industry. And the proposal has gained huge support from state residents. They gathered more than 19,000 public comments before the meeting even began and around 100 pro-electric truck advocates showed up to speak at the hearing.

The measure would call for modified emissions standards by giving additional support to OEMs and providing incentives for fleet operators to make the switch to electric. As it stands, the rule would require four percent of fleet trucks on the roads to be electric by 2030. That may not seem like much, but in a state the size of California, that equates to the addition of 84,000 electronic trucks. (Some activists, however, are pushing for that number to be increased to 15 percent, though it remains to be determined if that would be a realistic goal.)

If the state moves forward with the mandate, the impact on the electric truck industry would be major, and there would likely be a trickle-down effect, so we would start to see other states across the country adopting similar standards. It would also very likely become more realistic for fleet operators to follow suit, as the increased demands in production would also help to reduce costs.

What do you think about the proposed mandate? Are you ready to make the leap from a diesel fleet to electric?

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar