Fleet News

Cash-strapped councils consider investing in software solutions to cut expenditure

Public sector fleets facing budget cuts are being urged to invest in cutting-edge technology to achieve the savings they require. Good news for software providers, but is ‘spend to save’ possible and wise in such austere times?

It’s a tough message to sell to the finance director: invest thousands of pounds in fleet management software now in order to see annual costs reduce in the future.

However, there are advocates willing to provide the example. Luton Borough Council is one of a growing number of organisations that has turned towards technology to achieve efficiencies and cost savings. It recently hosted a workshop with software supplier Jaama for 15 public sector organisations.

Don Allison, the Luton Borough Council’s transport manager, said: “We have saved more than 17.5% of our operating costs in the past two years and at the same time we’ve got better at what we do.”

Although reluctant to reveal how much the council invested in the Jaama system, Allison said the savings achieved to date total £150,000. He estimates a payback period on the investment of two-to-three years, which includes a 12-month lead time in developing the system to meet Luton Borough Council’s defined needs.

The council’s proactive approach to running its 560-plus vehicles and plant has won it a number of awards, including recognition for opening up its workshops to vehicles operated by local businesses, which has boosted utilisation and brought in much needed revenue.

Allison believes those best practice initiatives have been made possible in part to the Jaama software. The system generated the thought process for the new working practices, so all the savings made so far are related directly or indirectly to implementing the software.

“Where we’ve come from in the past two years is remarkable,” he said. “We’ve become a better team and we’re less constrained.

“Where our previous system was slow, it made those who had to use it slow and curbed their enthusiasm. This new system has enabled us to put costs against everything, nothing is hidden, and we’re in complete control.

“We can put a budget against a specific vehicle and if we get close to that budget in, say, the eighth month of the year then we know we could end up with an overspend. It allows us to act; to be proactive rather than reactive.”

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