Organisations in the public, private and third sectors all face the same gruelling challenge in 2011. In order to survive the tough economic conditions they have no option but to minimise inefficiencies and improve performance across the board, including within fleets. But attempting to track and monitor fleet-related spend without a proper measurement system is practically impossible, advises Ashley Sowerby, managing director of fleet and asset management consultancy Chevin Fleet Solutions.
Right now, wise businesses are busy analysing costs across all departments, from HR through to accounts, to identify and eliminate unnecessary outgoings in an effort to maintain a healthy bottom line. However, when it comes to the fleet, many finance directors find they are dealing with an unknown entity due to the complexities of managing the wide range of administration entailed, including fuel expenditure; tax and legislation changes; vehicle maintenance and allocation; duty of care obligations and staff training courses. Human error, outdated systems, and widespread ambiguity make for an expensive mix of lost time and money.
Commenting on the challenges that 2011 will bring, Ashley said: “This year will throw the spotlight onto efficiency and utilisation. With public sector budget cuts and the knock-on effect this will have on the private and third sectors it will be vital to return maximum value for money from organisations’ assets. In order to achieve this, processes and administrative overhead will have to be removed or streamlined. Of course, in order to save you sometimes need to spend first and we are already seeing an investment led approach to cost control. The old adage “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is truer now than ever before.”
In order to effectively measure and benchmark the financial intricacies of fleets, web-based management systems have been created to provide an accurate and cost effective means of offering a real-time operational overview accessible from anytime, anywhere.
Although many companies have been reluctant to spend capital on new products and services throughout 2010, others have researched the market thoroughly and are investing in technological innovations to reduce unwanted expenditure, enhance performance, optimise assets and ultimately seal the competitive edge.
Ashley concluded: “While we are not expecting a complete culture change towards unreserved capital investment in 2011, we believe that with increased confidence in the market businesses will be looking carefully at spending to save, and investing in high-quality, specifically designed fleet management systems to improve operational efficiencies and achieve long term return on investment.”