The number of dedicated in-house fleet managers has fallen by half, according to research released by leasing and fleet management company Alphabet.
In 2011, 66% of fleets were run by a fleet manager, but in 2012 the proportion has fallen dramatically to just 37%.
This trend was felt most keenly amongst private sector operators; just 27% of the organisations surveyed had an in-house fleet management function, compared to 63% in 2011.
In the public sector the pace of change is slower; 67% retain an in-house fleet manager today versus 77% in 2011.
The findings are revealed in the Alphabet Fleet Management Report (AFMR) 2012, which is based on a survey of 250 fleet managers.
Increasingly the fleet management role was found to have migrated to procurement, finance and, particularly, operations departments.
The HR department appears to be less involved in fleet decision making; its presence in the fleet management process fell by more than half to just 4% in 2012.
In 2012 more than twice as many fleets as last year said they worked with outside fleet management specialists. And as organisations continue to implement stringent cost-saving measures, 40% of those that fully or partially outsource their fleet cited cost-saving as the chief reason for bringing in fleet specialists.
Paul Hollick, sales and marketing director, Alphabet, said: “The fact that three-quarters of private sector organisations no longer have a fleet manager title on the payroll should not be seen as a decline in the need for professional vehicle and driver management.
“The question is about where fleet responsibility sits within organisations or outside them if they outsource.
“Getting policy right is critical to fleet effectiveness and operating costs. But because today’s business systems allow policy to be executed by almost anyone from almost anywhere, the need for a single point of in-house authority and process expertise is diminishing as organisations increasingly turn to outside specialists for services and guidance.
“The new modus operandi for fleet management today is to outsource the nitty-gritty of fleet operations while decision making on key elements stays in-house.”