The Shortfalls of Using a Spreadsheet Over Transport Software

Jan 7, 2019 | Insights

A common initial question we get surrounding Road XS is well, we have a spreadsheet and it works just fine, why do we need Road XS?  The thing is, for some people, if you’re running a small operation with say 5-10 passengers and perhaps two drivers, that might work for you as you’d be able to keep on top of everything relatively easily and it’s likely you would have only one or two team members if any at all.

However, the problems that arise in using a spreadsheet surface relatively quickly.  The introduction of the GDPR in May 2018 really adds additional problems to using a spreadsheet as you’ll find out as we dig deeper into this.

As your community transport services scale you need on-demand access to your data in a secure and easily readable state.  With a spreadsheet you’re very often navigating around numerous tabs and can’t really find what you’re looking for that quickly.

Why Do People Use Spreadsheets in the First Place for Community Transport?

Well as you probably know during the start up stage of your services, you probably just needed something quick and easy to capture the information of your passengers and drivers and where they are going.  You can then use Google maps to lookup how far places are away, and you have your estimated mileage and cost to the passenger.  And this works, for journeys that are easy to book in and do nothing other than pickup and drop off at a particular time, the spreadsheet does capture your core information.  When a passenger wishes to book a second journey with you, you’d simply copy and paste their information and create the journey in the log sheet, diary or something similar.

The problem though, is that that’s all very labour intensive and even in the early stages mistakes would be made, perhaps not major ones but minor ones such as a copy and paste issues or inserting information and data into the wrong field.  That’s easy to fix when you only have say 10 journeys, but scale this up and it’s a major problem.  Imagine it becomes 30 journeys a day and you end up with 45 drivers to choose from, very quickly you lose track of who you’ve contacted, who is going where, and which tasks are the most important.   If you then get a couple of team members and volunteers, you just can’t press a button and pickup from where someone left off.

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No doubt you’ll have some backers such as local funders and they’ll want to know some raw data about how your services are being used.  And that’s ok with a spreadsheet, you can just go and do a very quick calculation of total journeys.  But then they ask, well which are the popular destinations being travelled to and what percentage of journeys are cancelled by the passenger?  Suddenly, you’re stuck.  What became a simple calculation with a bit of copy and paste has now become a headscratcher as you now need to calculate how many times a location has been visited and you notice your team member has called it something different to what you had and that means you need to go and update the data 50 times so it reads correctly.  You then also notice that you can’t quickly find information about a passenger because someone has accidentally deleted a key data cell.

Ultimately, using a spreadsheet means you are going to have to manually generate a report each month to keep your funders happy and fingers crossed, hope that it is accurate at the end of the day.  All this takes time and all the while you’re still receiving journey requests and need to allocate your drivers.

Very quickly life becomes complicated and a bit messy.  What started out as a basic data capture tool has escalated into a nightmare and you just end up feeling really stressed out which is no fun for anyone and if you then have to go and market of your services, before you know it you’ve probably had enough.

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This is what Road XS was built for and made to handle – it’s also there to make running your services fun, enjoyable and scalable.  By the way, the word scalable has become a bit of an annoying buzz word and all it means is growing your services with the least amount of effort but maximum return, so essentially performing more tasks with less effort.

roadxs new dashboard

Now, I know you’re probably thinking well how does Road XS do this?  Well it does by automating your mundane tasks so that you don’t have to do them.  This frees you up and takes a lot of the tasks you would normally have to do and automates them into a process and workflow per journey and maintains a consistent standard.

For example, if you are using a spreadsheet when a passenger requests a journey you would have to find the passenger, copy and paste their data across into the day sheet, and then copy and paste the location data of where they’re going and then manually enter their arrival time or appointment time for medical journeys whilst the passenger is on the phone.  You’d then have to manually write in their waiting time or appointment time and then write some additional notes and capture their mobility aids which can change from journey to journey.  You then need to look through your list of drivers and using your own internal knowledge figure out who the suitable driver would be and whether they have the appropriate vehicle or not.  You end up calling drivers who are away or don’t have the right vehicle and before you know it you’ve spent 30 minutes for one journey just trying to find a driver.  You come off the call and find 5 voicemails from other passengers requesting a journey.  It’s no wonder you feel stressed.

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With Road XS on the other hand, you just click the button create journey, do a quick passenger search, select from your stored locations and immediately you have the journey distance, time and estimated journey cost.  You press a button and all your nearest available drivers with the appropriate vehicles are listed.

road xs reports

What’s even better, is if you leave the journey a while, your drivers via the driver portal will even allocate themselves to a journey saving you loads of call time.  This even saves your passenger money too, as it reduces the distance the drivers are travelling.  This frees you up to call the passengers then informing them of their journey time and handling any journeys that don’t yet have a driver. And all of this is done without any copying and pasting, it’s just click and go and all off your latest data records.

Equally, as all this is going on Road XS is capturing the data and converting it into real-time reports along with a full journey audit so you can see who did what and when – and it’s also keeping you secure and GDPR compliant at the same time.  The basic essence of community transport processes are all handled for you which is how you maintain standards across your services.

That’s just one example of how Road XS allows you to do more, with less and scale up your services.  Here’s some other advantages using Road XS has over operating from a spreadsheet:

Maintaining Passenger and Data Records

Road XS captures all your core information once and automatically reminds you when records need updating such as driver MOT records, driver licenses, DBS checks and more. It will even capture consent requirements for GDPR compliance and ensure that if someone requests their right to be forgotten they can be removed quickly from the software.  You also ensure data integrity and don’t end up with duplicate data records for a passenger and you can also see who your active and inactive passengers and drivers are.

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A major requirement of the GDPR also means all your data must remain accurate and up to date which is very difficult to do with a spreadsheet as it becomes bloated and messy.

Calculations Are All Automated For You

The distances between locations and optimised routes, are all handled with the Road XS Smart Route Technology. This means you no longer have to manually work out distances from point A and B.

The best part is your admin fees and mileage fees are all applied to this giving you a total journey fee.  With the built in Road XS driver lookup feature this can save your passengers quite a bit of money in mileage too reducing the overall cost of the journey.

Real-Time Reports

You’ll never manually create a report again with Road XS. Road XS is collecting data about your services in the background as you use the software, meaning at the click of a button you can see how your services are being run, your busiest day, journey totals, popular postcode areas .. you name it.  The reports are always expanding too.  You just click and go!

Working Remotely and Securely

You and your team are not tied to one data file and one machine and it means you don’t have to email the data to your team (which by the way is not secure at all). With Road XS you can login securely from anywhere and can continue working no matter what the weather even if it snows.  You’re not tied to your office.  Road XS comes pre-built with extensive security options meaning you can lock access down to specific locations add includes additional layers of security per user, such as two factor authentication, and more…

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Work as a Team – Pick up Where Someone Left Off

Unlike a spreadsheet you won’t know where your team got to, with particular tasks without copious time-consuming notes, such as who called which drivers and what was said. With Road XS you have a full audit of who has been called and what tasks remain outstanding all via features such as the Action Board, Departure Board and driver lookup.

Bring Your Routes to Life

Unlike a spreadsheet where you’re just looking at raw data all day, Road XS brings your journeys to life with interactive route planning, mapping engines and a friendly user interface which can be used by anyone of any ability.

There are of course loads of features which come with Road XS all built solely for transport services and community transport. Just check out and you’ll see a highlighted selection which all comes pre-installed on the platform.

In summary, a spreadsheet is built more for handling raw data and number crunching, it’s not going to give you the speed, accuracy and usability to provide a personalised and friendly transport service to your passengers.  With Road XS transport software, you really do get more done, with less simply by working smarter, reducing stress levels, maintaining compliance and meeting increased demand and growth with ease.  The best part is, with Road XS you have no up-front fees and just pay for what you use!

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