Last month, I explored innovation as a potential pillar of your fleet culture. Now I’ll dig into another of the six areas examined in Why Company Culture is the Key to a Synergistic Global Fleet—outsourcing.
Fleet is, by essence, an outsourcing business. For decades, organizations have turned to fleet management companies to outsource the funding of vehicles, the management of their vehicle supply chain and the risk on residual value for closed-end lease and/or open-end contracts.
For the modern global fleet manager, there’s a new form of outsourcing, facilitated by technology and data.
Take a moment to imagine what your team of regional fleet managers and procurement specialists can accomplish with a new streamlined process that eliminates the day-to-day tasks and provides insight into the inner workings of the fleet. Think of the impact on your organization and the new ways you can measure its success.
The Digital Fleet Manager
The rise of new technology allows fleet management companies to increase the touchpoints they have with drivers, make information directly available to them and increase efficiency in every step of the driver journey. From understanding a company-vehicle policy, selecting a vehicle and following the ordering process all the way to the restitution of the vehicle, drivers can rely on digital tools to guide them through this process.
A byproduct of technology is data. Now we can see what the drivers are spending time on. We can also measure the impact of this technology on productivity. To give an example: When a driver has a fleet mobile app, he or she can view the ordering status of a newly purchased vehicle. This removes the calls to your fleet team to inquire about its status. We even can see how often they check. In fact, they may check the status 24 times!
Driving A Team Of Fleet Strategists
When you manage a community of fleet contacts around the world, you’re dealing with different maturity levels in their understanding of the fleet. By driving better outsourcing, you take these people away from the tactical aspect of the fleet and you have them focus on the strategy.
Another positive impact for the global fleet manager is that by shifting the focus on the strategic topic, your communication with the rest of the business is much smoother and you raise the profile and the visibility of the people involved in the fleet.
Driving Down Fleet Costs
What I described above about technology and its impact on drivers translates into a real efficiency boost for your organization. When a driver takes five seconds to add his mileage through the app or 45 seconds to schedule a maintenance appointment, there’s that much more time they can spend on core responsibilities.
The same is true for fleet managers. Digital tools provide more efficiency by focusing managers’ time to handle only the exceptions that require their attention while most transactions occur without his or her involvement.
Shifting To An Outsourcing Focus For Your Fleet
1. Determine who’s doing what
First, understand who is doing which tasks at the country level. While processes may differ in each country, the tasks that are required for managing a fleet are mostly similar across markets. Therefore, it’s important to understand who is involved in each part of the process focusing on the driver, the fleet management company, any third-party provider, the fleet contact and any other person in the organization.
Utilize a RACI Chart, an acronym for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed, to clarify and define the roles and responsibilities of each party. If you’re interested in completing this exercise, please contact me. I have a dedicated fleet template to share.
In parallel, my recommendation is to look at your fleet spend allocation per vendor. Any transaction not going through the fleet management company is a possible sign of an inefficient process.
2. Decide what to outsource
Once you have a clear picture of task responsibilities in each country, identify which activities are accomplishable with digital tools and which can be removed in their entirety. Remember, the goal is to limit the involvement of the driver, fleet managers and other stakeholders.
With the information gleaned, determine what tasks can be outsourced. Some integral items to include are:
- Vehicle ordering: It’s an efficient process to have drivers contact the fleet management company directly with any questions regarding the status of their ordered vehicle. Eventually, they’ll reflexively reach out to your fleet management company instead of calling your regional fleet managers.
- Accident management: You want this process to be as efficient as possible for the drivers and your organization. It is a time of stress and having a smooth process will ease the life of the driver.
- Seasonal communication: In countries and regions where there are weather-based concerns such as winter tire replacement, having your fleet management company reach out proactively to the driver is a great way to build trust and avoid the rush. If it’s not a seasonal environment, shift the communications to another topic, like safety.
- Mileage collection: In countries or organizations where business versus private mileage is reported, outsource that through a platform to eliminate the paper log.
3. Redirect your drivers
The key to effective outsourcing is for the drivers to turn to the fleet management company for any of their questions before going to anyone internally. They will only do that if they think that the fleet management company can answer their questions quicker than their colleagues and if they’ve been engaged early in the process with the fleet management company directly.
Therefore, it’s very important that the fleet management company is not only efficient in the way in treats the incoming flow of communication but also has outbound communication to proactively reach out to the driver community. By managing the communication with your drivers on topics, like your company’s internal policy compliance, the drivers trust that the fleet management provider is truly aligned with your internal processes.
4. Record your metrics
Outsourcing does not mean for fleet managers to lose control. It’s the contrary. It’s about focusing on where things don’t work as well as they should.
The availability of data is one way to hold your fleet management accountable. On this journey to outsourcing, you should discuss what metrics the fleet management company can monitor to prove all the processes are handled well while being able to analyze and offer a solution to any pain points that may arise.
Conduct a driver survey as you’re about to start the outsourcing project and repeat the exercise every year. It’s not uncommon to see a drop in the first year. But the objective is to avoid any reduction and increase the score over time through professional change management and by capturing the relevant feedback from the drivers.
What are your thoughts on making outsourcing a pillar of your fleet process? Let me know at email@example.com.