Wor­ry­ing state of fleet man­age­ment in SA

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

THE largely un­charted world of fleet man­age­ment in South Africa is mapped out a lit­tle clearer with the re­lease of the first bench­mark­ing re­search into how well lo­cal fleets are man­aged.

The re­search, con­ducted by fleet con­sult­ing firm Mo­bil­i­tas in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Stan­dard Bank Fleet Man­age­ment, paints a wor­ry­ing pic­ture of the state of fleet man­age­ment in South Africa. More than a third did not have a fleet man­age­ment pol­icy, let alone one that is fully im­ple­mented and re­viewed reg­u­larly.

On the other hand the re­search pro­vides, per­haps for the first time, a clear yard­stick with which fleets can mea­sure their man­age­ment stan­dards against their South African peers.

One of the most strik­ing facts to emerge from the re­search is just how real the dan­gers are of the present lev­els of South African fleet man­age­ment. The re­search was con­ducted in a rel­a­tively small but broadly rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of 61 fleets, to­talling just over 21 000 ve­hi­cles. Yet among them, they re­ported no fewer than seven deaths over the pre­ced­ing 12 months, 12 se­ri­ous in­juries and 469 ac­ci­dents.

Half of the fleets sur­veyed were not aware of the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard for road traf­fic safety man­age­ment and more than two thirds have never con­ducted road safety aware­ness train­ing for their driv­ers.

The re­search re­port pro­vides fas­ci­nat­ing in­sights into the na­ture of fleet man­agers in South Africa, hint­ing at pos­si­ble un­der­ly­ing causes of much of the prob­lems of the lo­cal in­dus­try.

The re­search strongly sug­gests that fleet man­age­ment in SA is mostly a part- time ac­tiv­ity. Only three per­cent of the re­spon­dents had fleet man­age­ment as their only fo­cus. Three- quar­ters of them de­voted less than half of their time to fleet- man­age­ment du­ties. Most of these part­time fleet man­agers have as their main du­ties ac­count­ing, hu­man re­sources man­age­ment and of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion func­tions.

When asked what their main pre­oc­cu­pa­tions were when it came to their fleet man­age­ment du­ties, most re­spon­dents said keep­ing down cost and pre­vent­ing fraud.

In con­trast to this nar­row fo­cus, the re­port ar­gues that in­ter­na­tion­ally “there has been a shift away from purely manag­ing ve­hi­cle op­er­at­ing costs to­wards a more holis­tic ap­proach to manag­ing ve­hi­cle fleets in a sus­tain­able way”.

The so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic im­pact, not only pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity, has be­come the in­ter­na­tional norm for mea­sur­ing ex­cel­lence in busi­ness, and no less so for the fleet ac­tiv­i­ties of com­pa­nies.

For this rea­son, Mo­bil­i­tas has de­vel­oped a multi- faceted yard­stick to mea­sure fleet man­age­ment ex­cel­lence that shines a light onto every dark cor­ner of fleet man­age­ment, ex­pos­ing mostly dusty, out­dated fleet pol­icy doc­u­ments, or no pol­icy at all.

Ex­cel­lence in fleet man­age­ment, the re­searchers pro­pose, has at least four pil­lars: manag­ing the risks fac­ing the fleet, manag­ing the peo­ple who op­er­ate the fleet, manag­ing the im­pact of the fleet on the en­vi­ron­ment and manag­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tive sys­tems of the fleet.

The re­searchers have de­vel­oped a scor­ing sys­tem mea­sur­ing all of these fac­tors, en­abling them to rate the over­all ex­cel­lence of a fleet’s man­age­ment, or to bench­mark the av­er­age level of fleet man­age­ment in a spe­cific in­dus­try or coun­try.

The scale they use ranges from In­no­cent ( for those fleets that score less than 10%), Aware ( up to 30%), De­vel­op­men­tal ( up to 50%), Com­pe­tent ( up to 60%), Ef­fec­tive ( up to 80%), and Ex­cel­lent ( up to 100%).

While they have found rare ex­am­ples of lo­cal fleets that op­er­ate in the Ex­cel­lent range, the re­searchers say the av­er­age South African fleet op­er­ates squarely in the De­vel­op­men­tal range, no mat­ter what spe­cific facet of fleet man­age­ment is mea­sured. The South African in­dus­try av­er­age score for ve­hi­cle man­age­ment and driver man­age­ment stands at 35%, and comes in only marginally higher for en­vi­ron­men­tal and road traf­fic safety man­age­ment at 38% each.

In or­der to ar­rive at a score, the model mea­sures as­pects such as the aware­ness of the fleet man­ager of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, the ex­is­tence of poli­cies in the com­pany based on such stan­dards, how of­ten the poli­cies are up­dated and com­mu­ni­cated and the rigour with which the poli­cies are im­ple­mented. — Sup­plied.

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