Shopping for mobile apps to help your trucking operation? Here are some tips that can help:

1. Determine your goals.

What are the business objectives the app should help you achieve? Clearly defining your goals makes it easier to choose the right app.

2. Simplify your way to success.

Most technology systems work best when kept simple, rather than made complex. Look for apps that have an easy-to-use, well-designed interface and focus on your specific objectives. And remember, an app that promises to do everything may not do anything.

3. Keep upgrades in mind.

Many apps are not perfect out of the gate. Instead, they're released with a limited set of features designed to be improved and added to down the road. So even if an app doesn't meet all your needs today, keep in mind that additional functionality may soon be available.

4. Stay secure.

Don't put your business or your data at risk. Viruses and digital theft are an unfortunate reality of doing business in the Information Age. Security should be a key factor in determining if an app is right for your fleet.

5. Test before you roll out.

Buy the app and try it yourself. Does it do what you expected it to do? Is it easy to use? Does it help you meet the business objectives you want to achieve? Is support readily available if you have questions? Then, pilot the app with a handful of drivers and ask them for their feedback. If they rave, roll out the app companywide. If not, find out what they dislike and implement any solutions available. Or consider another similar app to meet your needs.

6. Device matters.

Another thing to keep in mind is the handheld device on which the app is going to run. Not all are devices are created equal, especially when it comes to operating in a demanding environment such as transportation. Rugged handhelds may cost more upfront, but experts say the additional investment can be recovered quickly based on lower maintenance costs and longer lifespan. Keep in mind that non-ruggedized handhelds can be easily protected by a number of add-on protectors, such as the OtterBox line of products.

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