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Best of IE3: Track This Way

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If you want a good example of the speed at which technology is moving, consider GPS. Few things have adapted themselves to the new mobile culture over the last couple of years than the seemingly simple ability of devices to know where we are at any given time.

It wasn’t that long ago that GPS systems for business were stand-alone devices, somewhat expensive, and viewed with suspicion by employees, concerned about Big Brother, and business owners, concerned about spending money on something that wouldn’t produce a good ROI.

Well, it’s possible that both employees and contractors still have those same concerns, but there can be no doubt that pretty much everybody has accepted the notion of being tracked. We carry smartphones, and those smartphones contain apps that interact with the phone and provide  a steady stream of data about our whereabouts to any number of services. Those services then communicate with the app in a number of ways that make our life easier. Whether it’s just getting directions to an address from our current location, or Google Now offering helpful tips about nearby events or traffic, or a wide variety of other offerings, GPS has become a permanent part of the underlying operating system of modern life.

In your contracting business, if you still haven’t implemented some form of vehicle monitoring — or if you have, but aren’t sure if you’re getting good results from it — then there are a growing number of options, from still-available standalone devices to integrated apps. The important thing to remember is that GPS doesn’t work in a vacuum; the data has to be integrated into the entirety of your operations, and when it is, you can reap great benefits from dispatching efficiency, inventory control, and vehicle management.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that GPS is such an accepted part of your employees’ personal lives, you still might get some pushback if they feel that you are using a system simply to “snoop” on their whereabouts.

In January 2012, Eric Knaak of Isaac Heating described his company’s experience with GPS here at IE3.  “Yes, it can show you who is speeding, and where someone was at 10:30 Saturday night, but if that’s the reason that you want to get GPS, you might want to reconsider who you are employing in your company,” Knaak wrote. “GPS is a productivity tool, and while it does offer some ‘Big Brother’ reporting, it’s primarily a tool meant to allow your team to work smarter than the competition.”

Certainly the level of GPS adoption — and how the technology is accessed and used — has changed in just these brief two years. But Eric’s examples of how GPS can be implemented to make smarter decisions is still very true. Read it here. 

(For even more in-depth conversation with Eric about his company’s experience, with more tips and answers to contractor questions, ACCA members can listen to an audio interview we conducted with Eric. It’s available here at the ACCA Member Service Center.)

Kevin Holland
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