Whether the role of fleet manager is disappearing or simply evolving is a moot point. The role could be dedicated, part of another function like finance or HR, or rolled into wider travel/mobility responsibilities, but the most efficient and effective fleet operations will always have in-house expertise – even if some companies do not fully appreciate it.
What is changing beyond doubt is the level of control kept in-house. Many companies have chosen to outsource admin functions or driver contact to a leasing or fleet management company, freeing up time for a fleet decision-maker to focus on strategy.
However, a growing number of companies have attempted to hand all control of their fleet to a third party, retaining only the slimest of KPI-based supply chain management responsibilities within a procurement or finance function.
Geoffrey Bray, chairman of the Fleet Industry Advisory Group (FIAG), is discomfited by the changes he sees happening to fleet managers.
Fleet managers knew everything about the vehicles and were the best people to make decisions that affected them when he started independent fleet management supplier Fleet Support Group in 1987, he says.
But gradually some organisations began to argue that fleet managers were no longer needed and the role became redundant in many businesses
“In my view it was a mistake because to have the know-ledge, skill and understanding of why you have transport in the first place – for whatever reason – somebody needs to take ownership,” says Bray.
“While it may look cost-efficient that you allow someone else in the business, whether it’s in finance, HR, or wherever, it’s a mistake. You need to have that skill and experience.
“You are managing a considerable expense in terms of the vehicles you use and you need expertise to manage that consistently.”
He argues the loss of fleet managers over time is a “retrograde step” and in many instances there is a need for having somebody in a business that really understands what the requirements are when it comes to setting policy and making “the right kind of decisions”.
Peter Eldridge, director of ICFM, has a different take on the alleged demise of the fleet manager.
He says: “If you take black and white figures in terms of fleet managers reducing in numbers it paints an inaccurate picture because what is happening in fleet management is that the role requirements have been changing and they’ve been changing quickly.”
Read the full article on Fleet News
Posted on 31st January 2017
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