By Ashley Sowerby, managing director, Chevin Fleet Solutions
Non-governmental organisation (NGO) fleets are rarely discussed but they are actually quite a large part of the fleet arena, especially on an international basis.
The main reason for their invisibility is that their activities, by nature, are often sensitive and their parent organisations are understandably shy of very specific publicity.
When you see the difficulties that some face, especially those working in areas of military conflict or where populations are starving, it teaches you the real meaning of pressure in a fleet environment.
However, many of these fleets have been undergoing a quiet revolution of late.
Like many organisations, they have been coming under increasing financial examination whether their structure is charitable or otherwise, and there has been a demand from their donors to demonstrate results.
For quite a number this has meant a switch to international accounting standards for the first time and the scrutiny that this brings.
On the ground, this has led to a widespread accent on utilisation.
Ways are being found to make fewer vehicles do more and, while the nature of NGO fleets means that some of the managerial approaches being adopted are inevitably improvisational, there is also much in the way of planned, innovative thinking.
Additionally, lessons are being learned from the more corporate end of the fleet spectrum – one of our latest projects is to set up benchmarking exercises against a range of comparable organisations.
Conversely, NGO fleets perhaps have something to teach their corporate equivalents.
In mainstream fleets, it is inevitable that we get caught up in all kinds of issues such as CO2 and duty of care but, at the end of the day, almost every fleet is essentially about transport, about moving people or goods from A to B.
While NGO fleets also care about the environment and safety, the very immediate nature of the demands they often face means that transport is their overwhelming priority.
Spending some time thinking about your own fleet in this very direct manner can be a liberating exercise, perhaps leading you to solutions that you might not otherwise consider.