Fleet Software on Your Terms: Build, Buy, or Both?

Akshat Chawla, General Manager (APJ and Middle East)

Every fleet operator needs software solutions like fleet management or routing software, to operate efficiently. But not all software systems are created equal, and the choice of which solution to go for is not always obvious. Whether they have development resources or not, fleet operators often find themselves facing a “make or buy” decision, wondering whether to build a platform in-house ("make") or to purchase it from a specialized provider ("buy").

Should you build your own fleet solution?

Opting to develop a routing solution or a fleet management platform in-house sounds tempting. You get to control every aspect of the system, decide on what features to include, and integrate with existing processes from the get-go. 

Moreover, beyond customization and control, designing and developing your own fleet solution means that you will retain the intellectual property (IP) that you develop, and avoid being so-called “vendor-locked”.   

But even if you have your own R&D department, why would you set to work on solving an already solved problem?

Much like the way you use computing resources on the cloud or integrate to a messaging service, it is often better to focus your R&D efforts on your own unique strength, and integrate with existing state-of-the-art solutions that are focused on providing the best technology. 

Keep in mind that software development is not a one-time effort. It also requires long-term maintenance and updates that are expensive and are often overlooked in the initial cost estimate of the system.

Fleet management, routing software and optimization systems specifically, require a host of solutions and technologies that can become extremely expensive extremely fast, like mapping APIs or AI engines. Integrating with a dedicated platform covers all these variable costs, and allows you to enjoy economies of scale that stem from the bigger volume of the vendor across their many customers.

Speed, price, and risk mitigation point to buying a fleet solution

The two most obvious advantages of buying fleet software such as an optimization engine, a routing solution, or a fleet management software platform are the time to market and cost. 

It is significantly faster to deploy an existing solution, even a very advanced one, then building it from scratch. And buying solutions that are based on open source protects you against losing control of the product, even if you require many bespoke features. In fact, buying a solution with open source components offsets the trade-off between building and buying by allowing you to enjoy the infrastructure that is already in place in the bought solution, and customizing what matters most (like in your customer facing interfaces) while using other features “out-of-the-box”.

In software development, quicker means cheaper. But even if the initial investment seems substantial, integrating to a platform is much more cost-effective in the long run, eliminating the need for extensive research and development, ongoing maintenance, and the lack of scalability often present in made-to-order systems. 

Lastly, risk mitigation should play heavily in favor of going for a market-ready platform. Significantly lowering the risk of project failure, and gaining a partner that is committed to continually update your solutions to meet regulatory standards and technological advancements.

Risk mitigation should play heavily in favor of going for a market-ready platform.

Getting market leader's experience for free

On top of that, buying a fleet software solution from the right partner, who is an expert in the field, provides the fleet managers with access to specialized knowledge in developing and maintaining these systems, gathered over many years. As well as access to the latest technologies and best practices in the industry, backed by the provider's expertise and support.

This covers many aspects that go beyond the fleet management or dispatching platform itself, such as handling cybersecurity risks, managing cloud computing costs, and more.

Take for example NP-hard problems like routing and assignment or difficult machine learning solutions like geo-spatial predictions. These require some heavy lifting on the algorithm side and are difficult to solve. Letting a specialized platform handle these challenges allows you to be more agile and responsive to your solution.  

Here is a quick table that can help you decide if you need to make or buy your fleet solution.

Click to open or download

Choosing your software partner - Possible pitfalls and how to avoid them

Whether you are a legacy player with many systems already in place, or a green-field operator looking to establish a new system, you should keep these aspects in mind when you select your software solution: 

  • Look for an API first solution that offers a platform that is open, easy to integrate to and flexible when it comes to changes and extensions. 
  • Find a provider that can provide a whole spectrum of solutions from a full turn key solution that allows you to be zero tech, to integrating specific modules into your system, based on your needs. This will allow you to grow and be flexible, creating your own unique solutions. 
  • To follow the previous point make sure you can mix and match your own capabilities with those of the selected platform, getting the best of both worlds.    
  • Ensure you control your own data and have access to a customizable analytics suite that allow you to generate reports and keep tabs on your fleet performance effectively  

Lastly, make sure it is not only a white label solution but an open source one that allows you to customize without limitations, differentiate the way you engage with your customers and avoid vendor lock-in.

Conclusion - make informed decisions and reduce bad surprises

The decision to build or buy fleet software should be based on a thorough analysis of your specific needs, resources, and strategic goals.
While the allure of a customized, in-house solution is strong; the advantages of buying—from speed to market to access to expertise and cost-effectiveness—make it a compelling choice for most operators, especially as customization and control can be preserved with open source components.

By choosing to buy, fleet operators can enhance their operational efficiency, reduce costs, and maintain their focus on their core business activities, positioning themselves for success in the dynamic and challenging transportation industry.  Just make sure you partner with the right provider.

Stay up to date!

This is some text inside of a div block.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Stay Up To Date!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This is some text inside of a div block.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This is some text inside of a div block.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Our Latest Insights