Wow, the ELD technology world is evolving much faster than even we thought it would. There are new providers surfacing almost weekly. And it’s not the same old, same old approach. Companies are scrambling for market share, and often ‘fail to mention’ some of their shortfalls. Truckers tend to be ‘sticky’ customers, who are very reluctant to switch vendors, so any customer attained today will probably be a customer for a long time.
What to look for in an ELD provider:
- Solid financial backing. You can come right out and ask them. Some providers appear to be operating on a shoestring budget. They need enough capital to weather start-up and operating costs after the initial subscriptions stabilize. You don’t want a provider who is struggling to stay afloat. Another possible indicator – are their software developers contracted or full-time employees?
- Strong management. Ask who is on the senior management team. Look them up on Linked-In. Many of the senior managers may be great IT guys, but with little or no background in trucking. Being part of the consultative process on a government agency committee is a good indicator of industry knowledge.
- Customer service. Call their customer service line – at 3 in the morning. Have a chat with the person who answers. What level of support can they offer? Trucks run 24/7. You don’t want a load parked because the driver’s ELD app won’t work.
- Contract term. Some providers don’t require a contract, others need a minimum of 3 years. In the world of technology, 3 years is a very long time.
- User interface. How the users, (drivers and inspectors), like the feel and sight of the technology is critical. There are some really ugly systems out there – monochrome screens from the ‘90’s; big clumsy hardware; ‘innovative’ graphing that just looks too weird; awkward navigation; inept DVIR’s. User acceptance of just the concept of ELD’s is going to be difficult enough.
- Office system. What will the dispatchers have to work with? Does it meet their needs? How easy is the HOS audit process? Ask for a copy of the API documentation. Doesn’t matter if you have no idea about IT integrations. Just having the documentation ready to send out to customers indicates that they’ve done their homework and that their office system can ‘talk’ to other software you may be running. (Of course, if you have your own IT staff, let them stickhandle the whole integration discussion.)
Again, we can’t stress enough to get started testing, trialing, and playing with a variety of ELD solutions, always keeping in mind the cost and effort involved in launching a particular system, as well as swapping it out, if necessary.