The four-step plan to producing policy and procedure documents.
Many fleet managers are tasked with writing policy and procedure documents that combine rules and instructions for using fleet resources. This is not an easy task and the results can leave users frustrated and sometimes angry with the fleet manager.
One approach that works well is to follow the Plan-Do-Check-Act method used in managing quality. The American quality expert W. Edwards Deming made this popular in the mid-20th century, especially in Japan.
It is often used by organizations conforming to the ISO 9001 standard for quality management systems.
The process starts with the Plan stage where objectives for fleet performance are set. There are many objectives to choose from including reducing the number of vehicles in the fleet, reducing accidents, improving cost per kilometre, fuel economy, the number of out-of-service events, environmental targets and budget goals. The policy may state who is accountable for reaching the objectives.
The Do stage is where the product is made. In fleet management the product is a trip. Data collected on each trip or the combined total of all trips over a set period will show if the objectives created in the Plan stage are being realized. The policy may state the requirements for collecting data, e.g., using telematics to measure kilometres travelled, or buying all fuel with a fleet credit card.
In the Check stage, the actual results are compared to the objectives. This can be the basis of a policy for delivering a formal report to management at set intervals, and having management respond to missed objectives by providing resources and direction.
The Act stage is about making adjustments and taking corrective action. This is about “getting it right.” While some organizations look for a breakthrough at this stage, it is often numerous small adjustments (Kaizen) that make the most improvements. Breakthroughs in fleet management are often disruptive changes, such as outsourcing to a third party or changing from fleet ownership to a car allowance plan.
When the adjustments are made, the policy and procedures are revised and re-issued starting with the Plan stage again. An operations manual for drivers is the key to communicating the policy to the people taking the trips. The fleet plan must take into consideration every component of a trip, besides simply making a vehicle available.
Fuel, maintenance, and roadside assistance are not the only things that a fleet manager provides, although they are the largest cost items. Insurance, licence plates, driver’s licence verification, car washing, visual identity, record-keeping and performance reporting to management are some of the other functions needed for successful trips.