Today's Fleet Maintenance Manage-ment Software choices come in more sizes, levels of data detail, sophistication and price than most would imagine.

Today's Fleet Maintenance Manage-ment Software choices come in more sizes, levels of data detail, sophistication and price than most would imagine. Systems range from free-standing, PC-based to those that plug directly into the primary business operating and financial systems, feeding accounts receivable, payable, payroll and other general ledger accounts. The point is that there are critically important, suitable and affordable management resources available for even the smallest fleet. Anyone operating a fleet of any size without a maintenance management system is leaving wasted operating dollars on the table and possibly watching dollars go out the back door as well.

In addition to near-term and long-range planning facilitation, a good system will capture and make available data in a manner that enables informed maintenance management decision making on a real-time daily operating basis.

Experience has shown that while free-standing systems can be excellent tools for maintenance and operating management, their data, which does not tie directly back to company financial systems, may be viewed as suspect or lacking in reliability by senior management and financial executives. Therefore, when considering a fleet maintenance management system purchase, or upgrade of an existing system, look long and hard for robust internet server-based systems that will interface directly with existing business and financial systems. This will create system environments where issuance of a fleet purchase order for parts also creates an accounts payable entry or a garage time clock entry creates concurrent payroll input as well. Also look for systems with multiple "modules" that can be added as more capability and sophistication is required and/or as it can be afforded.

Strong preference should be given to system vendors with a long history of specializing in asset maintenance and management as their primary or exclusive focus. In contrast to those who have merely added maintenance program modules or 3rd-party maintenance management programs to their primary business, finance and enterprise systems focus.

For instance, MRO Software is an asset management and maintenance oriented company. With 30 years of asset management experience in energy, utilities, natural resources, manufacturing, government, transportation, etc., the company has the institutional knowledge required. Readers will recognize fleet customer names like Bimbo Bakery, Coca Cola, Frito Lay and Blue Bell Ice Cream. The company's Maximo Fleet Maintenance Management software should be the baseline from which to compare all others.

A company that can not only provide asset and maintenance management systems for your fleet, but also for plant facilities, production, filling, packaging, materials handling, warehouse and MIS equipment also adds potential bottom-line pluses for the entire business enterprise.

While evaluating vendor alternatives, analyze their certified partners as well-companies trained and certified by the primary systems vendor as 3rd-party systems trainers and installers. When a vendor decision has been reached, retention of a vendor certified 3rd-party company experienced in fleet asset management to assist with systems installation and training is must. Certified installers and trainers can add a wealth of user experience and applications knowledge that can be invaluable when installing and training users in a complex new operating system. As your contactor, these experienced installers and trainers can provide knowledgeable on-hand assistance and advise with problems that may arise with the system design, installation or the vendor itself.