Fleet Software Data Entry: How We Solved a Simple Problem

In a discussion on the www.fleetanswers.com community, it came to our attention that a user of a competing product was looking for, what seemed to us, a pretty simple concept.

The request: Make sure values entered into a price field are valid.

The discussion stated that some users were entering an invoice number into a price field by mistake. Since the price field is typically formatted with commas and a decimal, the user could be less likely to enter the wrong data into the field if they were required to format the field during the data entry time. A simple notification could let the user know that the number they entered isn’t a valid price and cause them to re-look at their entry.

Evidently, the request to the vendor to solve this problem was not reasonable or doable, so the user was left without a practical solution. This raised a challenge for us.

A visual helps make it easy to know if the formatting is correct.

What interface could we introduce into our fleet management software that would support this particular user’s goal and how long would it take us?  After a few short minutes, the idea agreed on was to turn the background of a field a faint red color if the numeric data entered didn’t meet the required formatting.  It would not necessarily interfere with the user but instead it would just provide the visual feedback that something doesn’t appear correct.

An example invoice number being placed into a currency field.

As seen to the left, the number doesn’t contain proper formatting (commas or decimals for currency), so the field turns red to inform the user it’s not valid.


Once development began, we had the software working on a user-by-user basis with this particular visual feedback in less than 20 minutes, which provided the evidence I sought.  Did the flexible architecture of our software live up to its promise?  This was especially important to me because our roots, our core, everything we strive for is based on our ability to deliver the absolute easiest and most comprehensive products to our clients.  The best way we learned to deliver such products is by creating technology that is capable of adapting to the unique needs, not only of each organization, but also to each person within those organizations.  I’m pleased to see we have continued to hold true to our beginnings.