Data is key to Fleet Safety – but you have to use it right.
If you can measure, then you can manage, is the dictum of every entry-level management class.
To measure you need data, so it follows that the more data you have, the better you can measure and thereby the better you can manage.
The logic makes sense, but the practice doesn’t always follow.
As psychologist Barry Schwartz highlighted way back in 2005, too much data can lead to a Paradox of Choice. Meaning that when given too many options to choose from, we have a hard time deciding or making a choice at all and can fall into analysis paralysis. We then fail to take effective action through fear of making the wrong choice.
This paradox and situation hold true for fleet safety management. Where a multitude of data sources can, on the surface, imply levels of analysis, insight, action, and control that means the risk management and fleet safety is being done well. But in reality, too much data could be preventing the tasks from being done as effectively as possible.
More concerningly, in the realms of safety and risk management, if the worst happens and formal investigations prove that the data was available, but was not being acted on, then the legal consequences for the organisation can be severe.
Best Practice to using your fleet safety data effectively.
Given that what we do at CMS is data aggregation, and from the many customers we have helped to improve their risk management programs, we have a strong insight on how to best use data for fleet safety management.
Start with a plan
When working with customers, we recommend that they consider the following checklist, accept that mission creep will happen, so they shouldn’t try and hard code what things will look like in three years’ time, and above all, start small. That is start with one or two areas of the business and build from there.
With this approach, we have found an effective road map can be built for using data to become better at fleet safety management, and the pitfalls of the paradox of choice and analysis paralysis can be avoided.
The checklist – five steps to better use of data for fleet safety
1. Define your main goals.
2. Identify the data sources.
3. Agree on the initial use cases.
4. Work out how the use cases fit into your current processes.
5. Engage your data protection officer or team.
Define your main goals.
There is a range of reasons why you should use data to improve fleet safety. In our experience, they can all fit into one of eight categories.
Whilst all eight will contribute to improved fleet safety; we have found that by identifying three primary goals, from the eight, there is a greater focus on what needs to be done, better buy-in from the broader business, and use cases (see later) are more easily prioritised.
The eight are:
1. Reduce incident frequency
2. Reduce claim costs
3. Improve incident investigation and response effectiveness
4. Improve driver training effectiveness
5. Improve driver assessment and onboarding
6. Reduce vehicle damage
7. Reduce data management time
8. Increase data visibility to senior leadership
Identify the data sources.
There are multiple data sources that exist within a business. Ensuring that they are all identified and can be used, is a straightforward task when following these steps:
Identify the systems.
These will break down into in-vehicle systems, operations and logistics systems, HR and employee systems, claims, notification and insurance systems, and compliance and training systems.
Document the data points.
For each system, it’s good practice to list out all the data points that are stored in that system.
Agree on the data transfer method into your fleet safety management system.
This will normally be either via API link, Excel reports or manual input and will no doubt vary by the data source. Documenting which method is being used by each source will help highlight where checks and double-checks need to be made, to avoid errors.
Agree on the initial use cases
Use cases are the specific activities that you want to embed into your fleet safety management system. This informs the people/departments using the system on what to do and what to focus on.
The best practice is to prioritise these use cases on the main goals that have already been agreed on.
Again, like the goals, from our experience, we recommend that you focus on no more than three use cases initially.
The use cases we have identified with our customers are:
New Driver applicants
Driver debriefs and interventions.
Depot or branch benchmarking
Cultural risk/Health & Safety Policy
Claim data quality
Incident review board
Work out how the use cases fit into your current processes.
When implementing a fleet safety management system, we have found that the best results are achieved when the existing processes are disrupted as little as possible.
Once the uses cases in the previous section are selected, we recommend working through the following questions for each one:
Who currently owns/runs the use case?
What information/insights would they benefit from having?
What would they want to be alerted to?
Would the action they take based on the information or alert change or just become more informed?
Engage your data protection officer or team.
The management and oversight of data is a critical part of all organisations’ activities.
In order to ensure that the fleet safety management system is netted in and compliant with your organisation’s data protocols, we recommend engagement with your data officer or team with the following steps:
Detail the data sources, goals, use cases and process implementation considerations you have gone through to the data officer or team
Organise a meeting with your data protection officer or team to answer any questions they may have from the documentation stage, and to give them a hands-on demonstration of your work. We’ve found this not only builds comprehension but also trust.
One thing to note: You aren’t collecting any data that your business was not already collecting. Simply, that the data is now being used more effectively, as well as bringing clarity to what data is of use and what is not needed.
A proven and successful methodology for fleet safety data management
As we detailed at the start, the amount of data available for fleet safety management can be the cause of an issue in itself.
However, we’ve found that by following the above five steps, and the elements of each of them, that data can be fully utilised and significant advances in fleet safety management achieved.
Indeed, this is the process we use when onboarding our fleet safety management system, Clara, with customers.
We’ve found it leads to fast and effective results as it delivers the right information and alerts to the right people so that they can act.