Synovia Solutions Blog

INTRODUCING SYNOVIA’S NEW SOFTWARE PLATFORM

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

How we’re helping our customers get the data they need faster and better than ever.

7.18.17_fleet_management_software.pngBeginning in the first quarter of 2017, Synovia Solutions LLC (Synovia) will begin to roll out a new software as a service (SaaS) platform to our customers. Prior to this new platform, our customers used Silverlining, our easy-to-use SaaS system that delivered an all-inclusive turnkey solution for the school’s GPS needs. It was a very user-friendly system that allowed our clients to know where their buses were at all times.

So why the change, you may ask? Why did Synovia make the decision to move to a new software, and what can our clients expect to experience with this change? In the end, it’s all about providing an even better experience for our customers.

THE STORY BEHIND THE CHANGE

We have more than 800 customers and 15,000 users, and all of them wanted one simple thing: a faster, more modern user experience. We have listened to, studied, and considered all of the feedback. The result? Synovia has put together a completely new software experience that is going to accelerate value for every customer and end user. This launch is about so much more than just new fonts, colors, and icons. It’s about making it easier for our customers to get the data they need to do their jobs effectively.

The project has been a multi-year mission for Synovia. We started with the Silverlining mobile site in 2015, which gave us the foundation to re-imagine our software-as-a-service. We asked ourselves, “If we were back in 2001 but had all of the technology available we have today, what type of software solution would we build?” The result is Synovia’s new software platform. It’s not just a great new user experience. It’s also packed with new features to help schools work more productively and make better decisions.

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

The benefits our customers will experience with the new software are plentiful. First and foremost, school districts will experience improved overall performance. The new software is much faster to load and easier to operate than the old platform. The difference is very noticeable and will help our customers perform their jobs even more efficiently by allowing them to pull up the data they need quickly and without issues.

Additionally, a couple of the biggest drawbacks in the past were the software’s inability to run the program using all internet browsers and the need to download a browser plug-in. Now with the new solution all modern browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge, can be used to run the program, and no plug-ins are necessary. Schools can use their preferred browser and get up and running immediately.

The user experience and the ability to perform new functions will also benefit our customers. For example, the search feature is much improved in the new solution. Schools can now search based on object properties rather than just the name. This means you can search by VIN, phone number and more. Data can be filtered by these properties as well.

Reporting is also a key component to using the software effectively, and it too is much improved with the new solution. Users will now have the ability to create ad hoc reports. Is your boss asking for a new set of data? Prior to this launch, creating a new report was a time-consuming effort and could not be done on the fly. But now users can create new reports on the spot, pulling the specific data needed in that moment. Users of the new system will also be able to create customizable dashboards. Schools can determine what information they need to access on a consistent basis and easily set up a custom dashboard that will display and refresh the data as necessary.

Additionally, vehicles can now belong to more than one fleet and users can run the software from multiple locations. It can be run on a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. No longer will you be chained to your desk in order to pull up your GPS tracking data. Instead, you can work effectively from home, in your car, or even at the bus yard.

The customer service experience has been improved as well. Users of our new software will have built-in customer service features. They will be able to create a support case directly from the software, and are able to view all open cases. And if your equipment needs to be returned for any reason, you now have the ability to create an RMA (return material authorization) directly from the software. Customers will no longer need to go to a separate site to log the information; it’s all in one convenient place within the software itself.

Finally, one of the biggest and most important benefits of the new software solution is the improved mapping. Synovia utilizes the ALK Technologies map engine. ALK is a global leader in GeoLogistics solutions and navigation software and has focused on developing innovative solutions for the transportation industry. The maps provided by ALK are more up-to-date and load much faster than before. And with this new system, schools will have the ability to map more than one vehicle history at a time and will be able to determine an estimated arrival time using real-time traffic data. As an added benefit, users will be able to create and print turn-by-turn directions directly from the system as well.

TRAINING AND IMPLEMENTATION

We are excited to bring our improved solution to our customers. As we roll out the new software, our current clients will need to be moved over to the new platform. Luckily, this is an easy and straightforward task.

It begins with training. This is always an important piece of the puzzle when working with a new software system. For each solution our customers have installed, there will first be pre-go-live training sessions. These will be online, either during a one-on-one session or via a larger webinar. We have also set up several on-demand tutorials and videos for our clients to watch. This allows you to answer questions and train when it’s most convenient for you.

Once a school district is confident and ready to go live, a date will be selected and instructions will be provided. The move to the new software is quite easy. There will be a new URL used to log in to the new system. All vehicles, zones, and users will be automatically moved over to the new platform, and your same login and password from the old system will work. It’s really that simple.

WRAPPING UP

We hope our customers are as happy as we are with our new SaaS platform. We look forward to hearing and incorporating your feedback as we continuously strive to get better. Our number one goal is to give you the instant visibility you need to better manage your fleet. And now we will be doing it with a much improved, faster interface that we are confident our customers will love.

To learn more about our software and GPS tracking, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your team. 

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Here Comes the School Year

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

Cover.pngIt’s that time of year again. Schools across the country are preparing for the inevitable end of summer, and the start to the new academic year. It can be a busy time for schools, and we want to help. To do so, this issue of Ridealong with Synovia Solutions will take a deep dive into the different ways schools can be sure they are ready to go come August.

In this edition, we start by exploring the feedback we’ve received about our student tracking app, Here Comes the Bus®, from parents and schools alike. We’ll also look at the latest trends in the transportation department and explain the benefits of having tools such as Wi-Fi and cameras on your school buses.

In the next section, we’ll take a deep dive into topics like student ridership, hiring the best bus drivers, and GPS navigation. We’ll also talk transportation trade shows and provide a case study from one Indiana school that has experienced a very successful transformation of their transportation department.

We’ll wrap up this edition by focusing on preparation for the new school year and how solutions like Here Comes the Bus can make your life as a transportation director a little easier. We’ll dive into the benefits of offering a student tracking app to your parents and students and explain the keys to success, such as effective communication with the district.

So, as you buckle down and plan for the new school year, we hope you enjoy this edition of Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We’re excited to share the most up-to-date fleet management information with you as you get ready to kick off another great year!

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What Can GPS Do For You?

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

Are you sure you know all the benefits?

It’s imperative that you understand what GPS tracking can do for you. What are all of the benefits experienced by businesses and school districts with fleet management solutions in place? At a high level, there are some key performance indicators GPS can give you immediate insights into. Because, ultimately, the transportation team must get their vehicles where they need to go, safely and on time. 

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How GPS Can Help

Tracking in Real Time

With a GPS solution in place, your tracking options are endless. Whether you need visibility into your entire fleet of buses or just a few, tracking and reporting is seamless. The data is provided in real time via an easy-to-use software platform. You have instant visibility into your fleet. This data can then be used when issues arise. Now, if a parent calls to complain or question whether a bus made the right stop, you’ll have the data to back you up.

Customized Boundaries

Another perk to GPS tracking is easily customizable boundaries. Define the areas you want to monitor and set up a custom geo-fence. You will then know precisely when vehicles enter or exit these areas, giving you insights into things like on-time departure and arrivals.

Custom Alerts and Reports

Once you have your solution installed, you can set up all kinds of alerts and reports to make your day-to-day job easier. Alerts can come in the form of pop-ups, emails, or text messages, depending on your preference. You can also easily see and overview past alerts, and review new ones to dig into specifics to determine when and why they occurred.

Ultimately, a GPS tracking solution will not only lead to better management of your fleet, it will also send the message that your business or school district is serious about providing the best possible transportation service.

To learn more about GPS tracking, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your team. 

Download Now

A Day in the Life of Telematics

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

eBook: How GPS Tracking Can Simplify Your Life

telematics_eBook.pngBy now, most transportation teams understand the benefits of GPS tracking. The worry, though, is that they will have the technology in place, but not the resources to take advantage of it. Luckily, that is not the case. Our newest eBook walks through how to get the software to do all the work for you, and make your life as a fleet manager easier.

Download the eBook to understand:

  • How a telematics solution works for you throughout the entire day
  • The many benefits of GPS tracking that save you from hours of frustration and manual work
  • Why a fleet management solution will improve efficiencies for your team in three distinct ways: savings, service and safety

A fleet management solution allows you to stay connected with your fleet and save time and money in the process. Running a large fleet is never easy, but tools such as GPS can help. Download our eBook to understand exactly how this visibility allows you to better manage your vehicles and drivers. And provides you, the feet manager, with some much needed relief in your day-to-day duties.

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CONNECTING THE DOTS BETWEEN TIME AND ATTENDANCE

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 @ 09:41 AM

How GPS-powered tools can improve your payroll system.

6.27.17_Time_And_Attendance_Quote.pngWhen you run a transportation department, your responsibilities never end, from safety issues and driver behavior to route planning and fleet maintenance. To complicate matters even more, you also have very real budget concerns and, too often, budget cuts to deal with. Luckily, many people have realized that GPS technology can help them do more with less while saving both time and money. What many don’t realize, though, is that your payroll system is no exception – there are GPS-powered tools available that can help you better manage it as well.

How It Works

A time and attendance solution allows your drivers to clock in and out within their vehicles. This eliminates paying for non-driving time, and on average it saves 15 minutes per driver, per vehicle, per day. You can ensure your drivers are being paid accurately for their time on the road.

Integrating with Your Payroll System

When looking at solutions, you need one that can integrate with your current setup. All the information captured through GPS tracking needs to be exported to the payroll system you’re already using, quickly and easily. This eliminates any extra work during implementation.

Increasing Payroll Accuracy

Logging time by hand introduces the possibility of human error, causing your payroll accuracy to suffer. By automating time collection, you save quite a bit by eliminating inaccurate time entries. Even if you’re off by as little as one or two percent, that can have a significant effect on your overall payroll budget, no matter whether you manage 50 vehicles or 5,000.

Staying in the Know

One of the largest benefits associated with logging driver time electronically is being able to accurately capture time for payroll purposes. Since you are paying your drivers based on time, it’s critical to know how much of that time is actually involved in a specific route or activity. A time and attendance solution enables your drivers to log a job type with the same keypad they use to clock in from their vehicle.

With this type of solution, you can also review and manage the time that is being collected. As your drivers log in, your GPS system is sending that data back to you. You can review to see who’s logged in, what their time cards look like, and more – all in real time. In addition, you can compare your existing route schedules from your planning system to the actual time being logged by your drivers. If a driver assigned to a six-hour shift is logging eight hours, you’ll know.

Empowering Your Drivers

The GPS solution should also include an employee portal, which allows drivers to log in and view how many hours they’ve logged. The employee portal allows non-drivers or dual-role employees (for example,  someone who may drive in the mornings and work as an office employee during the day) to log time spent on activities that don’t involve operating a vehicle. This can be done from a computer, so time spent both on the road and in the office can all be captured on one time card.

Even if one of your drivers forgets to log in or out, GPS data will provide you with a full picture of that driver’s day, from when that driver left to the time they returned. There are no “he said, she said” arguments over time discrepancies because all the data is right there in front of you.

Overall Benefits to Tracking TIme and Attendance Electronically

Let’s walk through an example of potential benefits and cost savings. Below are some of the major differences experienced by one of our clients with Synovia’s Time and Attendance solution.

Prior to implementation, their process looked something like this. Drivers would fill out timesheets and clock in at their schools. The schools would then review the time by hand, increasing the manpower needed to complete payroll. There was a lack of accountability and accuracy overall.

After implementation, drivers clocked in directly from the bus. The transportation department was able to quickly audit time using the data provided by the software. They also utilized a daily payroll import to ensure payroll accuracy.

So, what was their overall result? The school has reported $100,000 in annual savings since moving to Synovia’s Time and Attendance solution.

Many schools have decided to say goodbye to timesheets and manual entry. They are instead turning to GPS solutions for accurate time tracking, easy-to-read reports, and payroll integration. The benefits are endless, from more effectively managed fleets to large cost savings.

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If you want to learn more about Synovia's TIme & Attendance solution, sign up for a free demonstration

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Tags: Time and Attendance, Payroll

The Many Benefits of GPS and Asset Tracking

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 @ 09:50 AM

Case Study: Loxahatchee River District

6.23.17-case-study-gps-tracking.pngLoxahatchee River District manages both a fleet of vehicles, and some very expensive heavy-duty equipment. It’s their job to provide a valuable service to the community each and every day, as efficiently as possible.

To do this, they recently turned to GPS and asset tracking to be more forward looking in their business. They were experiencing some issues typical to managing a fleet of their size, such as lack of clarity into what their drivers were doing daily. And they understood the risks of using and managing such expensive equipment. They realized the risk of losing such pricey assets was much higher than the cost to track it.

They decided to turn to Synovia for help with their GPS and asset tracking needs. Download their case study to understand:

  • The exact challenges their transportation team experienced with their fleet and assets
  • The key benefits they were looking to receive from GPS and asset tracking
  • How Loxahatchee implemented and used GPS to run their business more effectively
  • The results experienced from implementing a fleet management solution

A complete GPS tracking solution can provide many benefits to organizations like Loxahatchee River District. Tracking vehicles, mapping routes, and insightful reporting are just a few. Read more to understand the complete story of Loxahatchee’s success.

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THE SECRET TO SELECTING THE RIGHT TRACKING SOLUTION

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 @ 09:19 AM

3 key questions to ask when evaluating GPS systems

6.20.17_GPS_Tracking.pngSelecting the right fleet management solution is no easy task. You must make sure it meets your  needs, and you need a complete understanding of how it will help you in the long run. Will it help keep your riders safe? Will it help your drivers increase their route efficiency? Will it save you money and provide a noticeable ROI? These questions and more must be considered when evaluating potential GPS tracking solutions.

As technology improves, more and more solutions come to market. How do you know which is best for you?
Below are several factors to consider when selecting your tracking solution.

What Is a “Nice to Have” vs. a “Must Have”?

There are many different solutions available now; it’s not just standard GPS tracking. Determine what is important for your school district or company first, and find solutions that match your needs. For example, how does your transportation team currently track time and attendance? Would they benefit from an all-in-one solution that allows drivers to clock in and out on the bus, rather than relying on hand-written time cards or clocking in at the school?

Another aspect for schools to consider is parent communication. Some solutions, such as Synovia’s Here Comes the Bus®, offer unmatched communication with parents and students. Whether it’s knowing how close your bus is or knowing when your child gets on or off the bus, Here Comes the Bus provides an easy answer.

By closely examining your needs and wants, you will be better prepared to evaluate the GPS tracking market and all its available options.

Is the Software User-friendly?

When evaluating different solutions, it’s very important to understand how the software works. First, think through who will be using the software on a daily basis. What are their needs, and how will they need to incorporate the software into their day-to-day lives? You may also consider asking the vendor if you can try it out before you buy. Let the users inside your organization test the software in real time. Is it user-friendly? Does it give them the information they need to make their jobs easier? Demos and trials are a great way to determine whether the technology is going to work for you and your team.

What’s It Going to Cost?

We all know budgets are tight, making the cost of the solution critical. But many times the better question to
ask is: can you afford not to have a GPS solution in place?

On two different occasions a school system in Florida petitioned their board to pay for a tracking system for
their school buses. Both times the petition was denied, and then one day that school system had three different buses collide with each other while out on the road.

While thankfully no children were seriously injured, later on it was determined that speeding was a significant factor in the cause of the crash. The crash could have been avoided altogether if the school system had simply been tracking their drivers’ behavior a little more closely.

The liability alone of what could have happened if just one of those students was seriously injured is scary, not to mention the real toll of such an incident to parents and students. Fleet tracking software can let you know in real time (as it’s happening) if your drivers are exceeding the set speed limit, and by how much, in order to help prevent things like this from happening.

As with any investment, you must take the time to fully explore all options available to your school system. Speak with other school districts to see how they are managing their fleets. Ask vendors for references and case studies. And, ultimately, find the solution that works best for your organization.

To learn more about GPS tracking, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your team. 

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THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF SUCCESS

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 @ 02:28 PM

What kind of insurance do you need?

6.14.17_GPS_Tracking_Blog.pngA GPS tracking system is a large investment for most companies and school districts. You want to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck. And you want to make sure you’ve got a plan in case something goes wrong. This is where Synovia’s Synsurance comes into play. It’s the unique value provided to Synovia customers to minimize their risk and give them peace of mind that we’ve got their back, no matter what.

So what exactly is Synsurance? It’s a one of a kind service guarantee offered to Synovia’s customers. It includes benefits such as:

  • Lifetime Technology Warranty: For as long as you are a Synovia customer, any defective hardware on your buses will be replaced at no charge. Additionally, customers are provided unlimited access to Synovia’s customer portal for software support.
  • Immediate Access to Spare Hardware: For Synovia customers, additional hardware (2% of the total number of buses in the fleet) is provided as backup. If a piece of hardware fails, it can be immediately
    replaced with a spare. Then simply send the defective unit back, and receive a new shelf replacement at no additional charge.
  • First Time Fix, or Synovia Pays: If you log the same issue more than once within thirty days you will be credited one day’s charge for your entire fleet. No questions asked.
  • No Limits: With Synovia’s Synsurance, you receive unlimited user licenses as well as unlimited training webinars and videos.
  • All-inclusive Service Fee and Price Protection: Everything is included in the service fee – use of hardware, installation, software and updates, implementation, hosting, data plan, support, and training. There are no surprises. And the service fee will not increase over the lifetime of an agreement. Guaranteed.
  • Access to a Municipal Lease: Synovia understands that sometimes budgets change and funds are redistributed. With Synsurance, if funds are no longer available you may cancel the agreement without penalty.

With guarantees like these, it’s easy to see why Synovia’s customers have minimized their risks and reaped the benefits of their GPS tracking solutions. Find out if your company or school can be one of the many that benefit from fleet tracking and Synovia Synsurance with a free demonstration

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MITIGATING RISK WITH GPS

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, Jun 07, 2017 @ 07:00 AM

You’ve decided you need a GPS tracking solution. The benefits are all too clear, and it’s time to make the change. But how do you ensure that you make the best decision possible, and that the implementation of the solution goes smoothly? There are a couple of simple things you can do to mitigate your risks when implementing a fleet management software solution.

Do Your Homework

6.7.17_Blog.pngFirst and foremost, you need to make sure you have a solid understanding of what you need and why. What is the driving force behind the decision to use a GPS tracking system? What problems do you need the solution to solve? Only with this understanding will you be able to select the best solution for your school. And since there are many different options out there, be sure to research each of them thoroughly. Ask for a demo or even a free trial before you buy to ensure the solution will work for your specific situation.

Determine What Kind of Insurance Is Provided

6.7.17_Blog2.pngThe better the system (and the company), the more likely they are to be comfortable with offering you some kind of guarantee for their product. Do they offer hardware warranties? Are they willing to reimburse you for downtime? Are you given spare hardware up front, so if there’s any kind of failure you can replace a malfunctioning unit right away? The better the guarantee, the more likely it is you’ll be happy with their services, and the less risk you take on with the implementation of the software.

Ensure Your Team Is On Board

6.7.17_Blog3.pngAs with any large project, you need the buy-in from your team to ensure success. The best way to get it is through communication. Determine your message and make sure it is consistent across the board. Explain
the benefits that the entire district will experience, from better route management to significant time and cost savings. Finally, ensure that you have a training program in place. Select a vendor that provides solid training materials, such as on-demand videos and webinars. 

With the proper preparation to reduce your risk, a GPS tracking solution project can go off without a hitch, and begin to provide benefits immediately.

To learn more about GPS tracking, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your team. 

Download Now

ARE YOUR DRIVERS RUNNING THE RIGHT ROUTES?

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, May 17, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

Gaining insights you need for better route management.

5.16.17_gps_tracking_route_management.pngAre your drivers taking the routes you want them to? You have spent countless hours planning to ensure they are given the best and most efficient routes. But without the proper tools in place, you have no way of knowing whether your drivers are following the routes you’ve specified.

To combat this problem, consider integrating your routing system with a fleet tracking solution. Why? Because it means you’ll know when each vehicle should be at each stop, and whether they arrived as planned. Essentially, you can compare your planned and actual stops while also receiving informative summaries of the overall activity of your fleet.

Better Service & Satisfaction 

One of the major advantages to this kind of visibility into your fleet is improved customer satisfaction. It can be frustrating for your customers when there are unexpected delays or changes in the normal routine. Instead, imagine a scenario where you would be able to quickly alert your customers if a planned stop changes, or if the driver has deviated from the expected route. This would make your customers happier, and lead to fewer complaints to your transportation department.

Better Route Management

Ultimately, combining your route planning and GPS tracking allows you to effectively manage your routes. You can better ensure on-time departures and track route compliance. You can manage time performance and keep key people informed at all times. So the real question becomes: why wouldn’t you implement this solution?

Better visibility and understanding is key to planning and running the most efficient routes. School districts and businesses with fleet tracking tools have all the information they need to make the right decisions – and more.

To learn more about this, and other Synovia solutions, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for you.

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Tags: route efficiency, GPS