Plan your route to a more profitable business with our top 6 route planning tools for fleets
Once upon a time, businesses operating fleets of vehicles used to rely on paper maps for navigation. Later, GPS-powered apps like Google Maps made things easier – but they’re not perfect. Even now, as we head into 2020, some businesses still depend on their drivers’ intuition and knowledge of the road to get by.
If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is. But if any of the above sounds familiar, then listen up – because now, there’s a better way to find your way.
It’s called route planning software, and it’s a dynamic tool that plots out the most efficient, safe, and traffic-free routes for jobs. This smart software will slash your fuel costs, cut down on admin, and save your drivers valuable time and patience.
With that in mind, the question of whether to invest in route planning software is a no-brainer. What’s a tad more tricky is deciding which provider to go with. That’s why we’ve run the rule over six rival providers, and handpicked some of the most exciting, smart, and feature-rich route planning software available for UK businesses.
So, let’s take a closer look at what route planning is, how it will benefit your business, and – most importantly – who’s doing it best.
What is route planning software?
Route planning software allows you and your fleet managers to plot out the best routes for drivers, before they hit the road. By optimising the journey, you can help trim fuel and labour costs, while navigating any road closures and avoiding the worst of any traffic.
Route planning comes in three types:
1. Dynamic route planning
A dynamic route planning solution lets you plan routes in real time, redirecting and reassigning vehicles as you see fit. You’ll be able to see exactly which vehicles are available, where they are, and whether they’re right for the job at hand – all from your smartphone or tablet.
To achieve this, though, you’ll need to integrate your route planning software with a vehicle tracking tool. This involves both hardware (the part that actually tracks the vehicles) and software (the bit allowing you to see you vehicles’ status in real time, and reroute them accordingly). We’ll get to vehicle tracking and fleet management a bit later, but first…
How does dynamic route planning work?
Well, let’s say an urgent piece of work comes up. Looking at your dynamic route planning tool, you see Tom’s stopped to fill up on fuel, and Dick’s on the wrong side of the city.
Don’t fret, though – Harry’s just finishing up a delivery in the area! You tap into his live location via your route planning tool, and divert him to the site of the job. Simple!
2. Multi-stop route planning
If your fleet deals in jobs requiring stops at several different destinations, this type of software is for you. Essentially, it calculates the quickest, most economical routes between stops, allowing your drivers to get there with minimal fuss, and ensuring your customers stay satisfied.
Multi-stop route planning software factors in real-time conditions out on the tarmac to offer the right route, every time. You’ll also get ETAs for each stop, helping you keep customers in the loop while their deliveries are on the way.
3. Plan vs. actual route comparison
Of course, you can plan to your heart’s content, but if your drivers aren’t actually following your neatly-optimised routes, then… well, it’s just not going to work.
That’s why plan vs. actual route comparison tools are so handy. By comparing the prescribed route with the one your driver actually took, you can ensure your drivers are sticking to the plan. This method also allows you to understand the reasons behind any deviations from the set route – helping to drive better strategic planning, and ensure more effective, accurate schedules going forward.
So, that’s what route planning software looks like. But which providers are doing it best?
Best route planning software solutions
We compared the range of route planning software available to UK fleets. Looking at a range of metrics, including features, ease of use, and customer support, we found that the best route planning tools come from Verizon Connect, Samsara, Maxoptra, Microlise, Paragon, and Movolytics…
The best route planning software for UK businesses:
… here's why.
Best for defining territories
If there was a ‘Godfather’ of route planning and fleet management software, it would be Verizon Connect. Comfortably the largest fleet management provider on the planet, it serves almost two million vehicles worldwide. It’s not hard to see why Verizon is so popular, either – its innovative algorithms crunch millions of route options in moments, offering the safest routes in the fewest seconds.
Verizon Connect is also excellent at defining territories (much like the warring families of The Godfather, in fact). The app leverages intelligent data analysis to let you generate these ‘territories’ – geographical zones tailored to your business and resources – and assign the right drivers to the right areas. The result? You’ll know exactly who’s responsible for what, and have ultimate visibility of your fleet’s movements.
- Software matches the needs of the job only with the equipment and employees that are available
- Exceptional customer service
- Pricing plans lack transparency…
- … but we’re pretty sure they’re expensive!
Best all-in-one solution
Samsara’s solution is about more than just optimising your routes – it’s an all-in-one approach to vehicle management, designed to improve every aspect of how you run your fleet. As well as a silky smooth user experience, Samsara offers instant vehicle tracking, letting you monitor route progress and pull drivers up on late or missed stops – all from a single, intuitive dashboard.
You can also provide real-time access to all that info to stakeholders and customers, allowing them to track their own deliveries as they unfold – or in the case of stakeholders, give them a 360-degree view of how brilliantly your team is performing. All in all, Samsara empowers your team to provide even better customer service – and at the very least, should make the lives of your phone support team a lot easier!
- Offers an intuitive app, allowing you to instantly update drivers with route changes
- Excellent planned vs actual comparison analytics feature
- One of the pricier route planning tools on the market
Best for transparent pricing
With several savvy route planning tools and a range of transparent pricing plans, Maxoptra claims it’ll cut your running costs by up to 20%. Its cutting-edge software factors in vehicle capacities, delivery time slots, and order volumes, taking the headaches out of fleet coordination. You’ll be able to create optimised routes in moments, and easily import existing routes from elsewhere.
Better still, Maxoptra recently partnered with Quartix vehicle tracking. This means that (for a few extra quid per month, of course), you’ll also benefit from driver performance monitoring, plus daily trip and timesheet reports.
- Drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to get to grips with
- Provides accurate reporting, so you know which routes do (and don’t) work
- More limited in scope than other route planning software in the UK
Best for ease of use
Catering to a range of specific industries and sectors, Microlise offers a number of flexible fleet management solutions. The best, though, is its route management software. You can plan routes by profile, meaning you’ll only get a journey fit for the vehicle being driven. And on top of that, its ‘route overrides’ feature lets you easily refer back to your own tried-and-tested shortcuts when in areas you know well. Oh, and Microlise’s software is also extremely easy to use – the interface is simple, clear, and suitable even for your most tech-averse drivers!
- Experienced, friendly staff, available 24/7
- Extensive online knowledge base keeps you informed
- Its wider vehicle tracking capabilities aren’t as powerful as some of the other providers on this list
Best for customer support
When you implement a route planning solution for your fleet, the support shouldn’t stop when you’ve downloaded the software – and with Paragon, it won’t. With a 24/7 customer service hotline, ongoing training, a client portal with more than 200 step-by-step guides, and a dedicated support consultant, Paragon goes the extra mile. But don’t think that means it skimps on the features – quite the opposite. Paragon’s intuitive route planning software simplifies data imports, letting you easily manage info such as vehicle sizes, driver shifts, order volumes, time windows, and delivery addresses.
By putting all the data (quite literally) at your fingertips, Paragon’s solution ensures you’re planning the most well-optimised routes possible – and making the best choice for your business while you’re at it.
- Impressive auto-routing abilities
- Easy to set up
- Lacks the same level of advanced reporting features as some of the other route planning software here
Best for driver management
Movolytics is more than a route planning tool – it’s a complete vehicle tracking solution, suitable for even the largest, most complex fleets. As well as route planning and re-calculating, Movolytics also brings intelligent geofencing, vehicle maintenance, and route history features to the table. And it’s not just your fleet Movolytics can help you to manage – it’ll make managing your drivers less of a handful, too. Automated timesheets take the hassle out of HR, while reports and reminders make sure your team remains legally compliant while staying safe out on the tarmac.
- Excellent reporting features
- Powerful data visualisations allow you to easily identify common trends
- Some online reviews question the efficiency of the customer service
So, there you have it – the best six route planning tools that money can buy. If you’re looking for the most innovative features, Verizon Connect is your best bet; Microlise is the easiest to use, while Samsara goes the extra mile. Whichever route planning tool you settle on, though, you can be sure you’re committing to a smoother, simpler way of doing business.
That said, route planning software does have its drawbacks – every silver lining has a cloud, after all.
While a route planning tool offers convenience, it still represents some of the more basic technology currently available to UK fleets. Sure, route planning software will cut the mustard for small businesses – and slimmer fleets can probably even get by on a free plan. But if your fleet is growing (and taking your business with it!), then you’ll need to look to the scalability and power offered by a fully-realised fleet management system. Here’s how…
What happens now:
To find out more about what kind of shape fleet management might take at your business, simply provide us with a few details about your current fleet’s demands. Our form is brief (it takes about 30 seconds), free forever (promise!), and easy to fill in (about four questions).
We’ll ask about how large your current fleet is, what kind of vehicles are in it, and for your postcode. Then, we’ll match you with some of the UK’s finest fleet management providers. They’ll then be in touch to provide quotes tailored to the unique demands of your business.
How much does route planning software cost?
Route planning software is generally priced on a per vehicle, per month basis. That said, it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll pay – most route planning tool providers offer bespoke pricing, and therefore aren’t particularly hasty when it comes to clearly advertising their prices.
As a rough example, though, let’s take Maxoptra’s pricing plans. Its cheapest package is priced at £35 per vehicle, per month, on a 12-month contract. For this, you get both manual and automated route planning, printable driver manifests, and scheduled exports, compatible with Excel.
Maxoptra’s more expensive tier (£50 per vehicle, per month) adds in real-time customer ETA updates and SMS notifications, while also enabling connection to a separate vehicle tracking system. Beyond that, Maxoptra only offers a completely bespoke solution, at a completely opaque price.
Is there free route planning software?
There is indeed. Sites such as RouteXL offer free route planning for individuals and small businesses. The only issue is, it’s only the smallest of these businesses that’ll find free tools useful – they’re free for a reason, and come stripped of most of the features that’ll really add value to your fleet.
For example, most free route planning software allows you to plot out a course for only one vehicle, rather than the multiple, simultaneous routes you’ll need for larger fleets. You’ll also get a limited amount of stops per route optimisation, absent customer support, and an interface that’s clunky to use (and not that much fun to look at, either).
Don’t tie your business to static, snail-paced technology that already belongs in the history books. Shelling out now for a more advanced system that does everything you need it to (and more) will pay dividends in the long run – that’s why we recommend fleet management software so highly.
To explore how vehicle tracking can boost your business, let us help. Simply complete our quick, no-qualms quote-finding form, and we’ll provide you with tailored quotes from a range of leading fleet management software suppliers.
▶ Read more: Cheap vehicle tracking systems