Data reporting can get a bad rap for being a snooze fest on paper, but there are some simple things you can do to make your reports look better and accomplish more.
Reporting is an integral part of running a fleet, but creating a metrics report that people will actually read can be difficult. In order to make reports effective, you have to find a good balance of data visualization and clear communication so everybody gets what they need out of the metrics that matter most.
Here are a few tips that you can use to generate more effective reports, keep them interesting and make them matter more to your organization.
8 Tips for Creating Fleet Reports
- Know your audience – Keeping the people in mind that will be using the report is the first step in building out any report. Different stakeholders will have different informational needs, so making sure that your reports answer questions that jibe with their job roles will ensure that meetings go smoothly and that those stakeholder reports are valuable to the people you’re making them for.
- Keep it visual – When you’re trying to parse out progress in your numbers, being able to see things going up and to the right on a graph can be a quick indicator of what you’re looking for. Representing data in a graphic, visual format can help demonstrate the stories your numbers are telling more efficiently than a typed-out rundown ever could. The best fleet management platforms have the ability to automatically generate graphs based on the data you record, but if you don’t have access to fleet management software, a spreadsheet can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you with built-in graph formats for your data.
- Simplicity is key – It can be tempting to include every little detail from the data you’ve worked so hard to collect in your reports, but staying simple can actually do a better job of providing context. Overloading reports with an abundance of information can obscure the fleet metrics that matter to your stakeholders, and you can spend too much time in the weeds and miss opportunities to make your most important conclusions stick. Go back to your audience and consider what’s significant to them, and edit out anything that could get in the way of them understanding the state of your fleet.
- Focus on specific metrics – If you’ve spent any time working to identify your fleet management KPIs, you’ll want to make sure they’re front and center in your reporting. Those KPIs are your north star to fleet growth, and if you can’t see them clearly in your reports, then you won’t have a measurable way to represent them.
- Context matters – Numbers always paint a clear picture – until they don’t. For example, if you show a drop in fuel costs in your reports, but don’t indicate the increased downtime that led to decreased usage, then you might be inadvertently obscuring vital context for your reporting. Be sure to contextualize your data when needed and don’t let your reports lead people to believe things are rosier, or even perhaps bleaker, than they actually are.
- Think about action items – Reports don’t have to simply be a readout of numbers; you can use reports as an opening to propose potential solutions to the problems you see represented in the data. If you see a metric like cost per mile increasing, include some action items that you think could help push that number back down to make your report into a plan.
- Stay consistent – Establish a reporting cadence that aligns with your fleet’s goals and keeps you accountable for measuring fleet performance on a regular basis. That cadence can be weekly, monthly, quarterly or all of the above, as long as you stay on a schedule you can keep up with. Also consider standardizing your reporting format with the same metrics represented in the same way, so you can easily see the shifts from reporting period to reporting period.
- Get feedback – The best way to know whether or not people find your reports helpful and informative is to ask. When you first set up your reporting, ask people what they’d find useful and try to honor that as best you can, and then continue iterating over time as you receive more feedback.
Reporting in Fleetio
A good fleet management platform can save you hours of effort by automatically exporting your data into readable reports. Fleetio updates all metrics in real time, so your data is ready to be exported at any time, and you can filter by vehicle or vehicle group to get as granular as you need. Easy-to-read data visualizations make it simple to share your dashboard views with other stakeholders, whether you want it sent straight to their inbox or exported to PDFs and printed.