Catman: la gestión de categorías no es un gasto tradicional
Author: Katherine Vigneau
Many organizations, whether corporate or public, need vehicles and equipment to support their operations. On the surface, acquiring and managing these vehicles should be a simple function. After all, most of us have bought, insured, operated and disposed of our own cars. The truth is, that decisions you make for your personal fleet of one or two vehicles do not necessarily translate on a larger scale. Procurement specialists who are assigned to the fleet category are soon confronted with information and questions illustrating that fleet is not your traditional category spend. A few main challenges face fleet buyers—navigating the organizational division of responsibilities and understanding the economics of fleet.
Over the past 30 years, the titles and associated responsibilities of those responsible for fleet procurement evolved from “buyers” to “sourcing managers” to “category managers.” In the past, many organizations assigned purchasing by vendor instead of commodity. Technological advancements have made more data available. This data, coupled with vendor scorecards, allow companies to understand the full scope of spend within categories across multiple vendors and for consolidation of spend—not just around price but also quality of service. As a result, organizations can employ category management that involves the holistic oversight of vendors, spend, policies and practices within the framework of an overall procurement and stakeholder partnership.
Category management requires a strong category team with clearly delineated responsibilities. Every organization needs to determine the players involved in managing the category and what the levels of responsibility are. This can be challenging but can be simplified by using the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix. This matrix seeks to identify all of the tasks involved in a specific function (such as vehicle acquisition) and the level of responsibility of involved stakeholders.
Fleet Procurement HR Risk User
Acquire fleet vehicles
Needs analysis R I I I C
Develop RFP C A/R I I C
Provide vehicle spec R I C
Evaluate bids C A/R C
Select vehicle A/R I I I C
Driver training R C C C
Policy amendments C R C C
Receive vehicle R I I I C
Inspect vehicle R I C
The example above is a RACI matrix for fleet acquisition. It lists the main tasks at left and the stakeholders at the top. Then, for every task, it specifies who is operationally responsible, fiscally accountable, who needs to be consulted and who should be informed. For example, when making the final vehicle selection, the fleet manager is both responsible and accountable, the end user is consulted and all other parties are informed. A clear understanding of roles can greatly assist organizations in purchasing vehicles.
The second challenge for vehicle procurement is understanding and adhering to the basic economics of fleet. The two biggest costs of operating a fleet are depreciation (a fixed cost) and fuel (an operating cost). The other major operating cost to consider is maintenance. As a fleet ages, depreciation costs decline because the capital cost of the vehicle falls. At the same time, the operating costs increase because fuel mileage worsens and there are more repairs. What fleet managers seek to identify is the point where the operating and capital costs are the lowest as this is the opportune time to replace that vehicle. The graph below captures this optimum replacement point.
The theory is straightforward and proven. All too often, however, fiscal influences cause decision makers to question this model and seek to delay fleet replacement to “save money”. This is when fleet expertise is required to educate those decision makers about the problems of delayed replacement. They are not just financial. Delaying replacement also means not bringing new technology and safety equipment into the fleet in a timely manner. It can also mean extended downtime and reduced service levels. This is particularly risky for critical equipment like emergency response vehicles and snow removal equipment. Imagine delaying replacement of the snow removal fleet and getting record snowfalls the following winter. The downtime of the aging equipment might delay snow clearance and a city core may not be cleared for several days. Presenting a realistic scenario is often helpful in getting them to realize the risks of delayed replacement.
Other issues associated with keeping vehicles past the optimum replacement point are reduced safety and innovation. Older fleets are riskier, largely because manufacturers are constantly improving the safety equipment of newer models. The introduction of other innovations, such as better mileage and telematics, is postponed when an organization keeps older vehicles.