Managing the control and usage of keys is a significant undertaking for anyone working in fleet management. Access to keys is critical to the execution of your business and protection of your assets, with the loss or theft of keys representing a significant risk to your operation. Anyone with the key can drive off with a vehicle, use that vehicle for personal needs, or otherwise mishandle your assets. In addition, losing the key to a vehicle takes that vehicle out of commission for the time it takes to locate the key or rekey the vehicle—a significant loss for your business. It’s crucial to effectively manage the keys essential to your operation.
With key control systems, managing vehicle keys and other keys is greatly simplified. Each key is attached to a fob containing a chip enabling tracking of who removes the key and when, along with when it is returned and by whom. Only the requested key can be removed, and only by a user authorized to use that specific key at that time. This tracking ensures that you are always informed of which keys have been taken out and, by extension, which vehicle, which allows you to mitigate risk, rotate vehicles to ensure even usage, and even track the location of a vehicle which has been returned to a different facility after use.
Key control systems run on management software, so when choosing a system it’s important to keep in mind what will be most compatible with your organization. Some systems are designed to run software on a local PC, while others run web-based software. With a PC-based application, the application is downloaded to a PC and launched on the desktop, while a web-based application opens in and runs through a web browser. Both options offer advantages, and choosing the right key control system depends on your fleet management needs.
User interface is the first thing you’ll want to consider when choosing key management software. Web-based operations obviously rely on your internet connection to stay functional and up-to-date, which is essential in a minute-by-minute fleet management business that relies on a schedule to deliver vehicles properly. Should your internet connection be intermittent, or if you experience other issues causing timeout on your browser, there may be problems with the reliability of your interface. A PC software-driven application is more likely to remain reliable, as it does not rely on a browser to translate data.
While no software is 100% immune to breaches, PC software is also better protected than web software from hacking by network permissions, firewalls, and other access controls installed on a PC, while web-based software’s internet connectivity is more exposed. Putting protections in place on web-based key management software can help ensure that access to your vehicle keys remains with authorized users, and that your vital vehicle usage records are not tampered with by, for example, an employee hiding that they took your fleet’s nicest car out for a date night. Keeping your key management software secure should be a priority for any fleet manager.
Upgrading your key control system as new features are added is essential to ensuring that your system continues to provide you with the value and security you require. Avoiding downtime is crucial, as your vehicles need to be available at a moment’s notice, and reservations need to be kept updated and accurate. A web application doesn’t require regular updates, as the software will be automatically updated on the server, but the browser itself requiring updates could cause some instability issues.
Your key management system software is an essential part of keeping the keys to your vehicles organized and tracked, along with providing audits, reporting and alerts when needed. Ensuring that you choose the right style of key management software helps ensure that your key management system is working for you to help you manage these crucial assets. You should choose a system with software that works best for your business needs, ensures uptime, and is easily deployable across the variety of locations used by your fleet to make sure that this critical aspect of your business is secure.