What does it take for fleet procurement to run like a well-oiled machine?
In a previous article, I talked about the importance of strategic sourcing and the steps involved in leveraging purchasing power by taking a holistic report on all purchases across the entire organization. When applied to fleet procurement, the stakeholders involved would have to include the Fleet Department, Procurement, User Department, Human Resources, Legal, Risk Management and sometimes others. Defining the roles and responsibilities of each is critical to ensure fleet procurement runs like a well-oiled machine.
Fleet manager’s role
The Fleet Manager should be recognized as the subject matter expert on vehicles and fleet programs. They are the connection to the drivers and to any specific needs the program may have; for example, specific safety requirements, or up-fitting needs.
In many cases, the end users have strong opinions as to what they need in a fleet vehicle. The Fleet Manager is the individual with the ultimate responsibility to sort through user requests and distinguish needs from wants. After full consideration of all input from the end users, the Fleet Manager approves and communicates final specifications.
Throughout this process, Procurement is a great partner who lends expert advice on the Request for Proposal and procurement process. They link with the Fleet Manager to understand the specific end-user needs, and then seek to identify the best suppliers to bring value to the organization.
It is critical for the Fleet Manager to be able to articulate specific fleet requirements and why they are important, so the procurement team can take them into account. Procurement will be sure to follow all the appropriate guidelines and regulations for a smooth and legal process.
End users and other stakeholders
The role of the end user is also very valuable. As the people charged with getting the job done, they are best placed to understand the function that the fleet vehicle needs to fill. Therefore, they need to be intimately involved in the specification process and sign off on the selected specification.
Once you involve the Legal Department to ensure terms and conditions meet legal requirements and HR needs, you can see that there are a lot of players in the process. A colleague recently characterized this array of players in the following diagram:
This apparent overlap of responsibilities and authorities can be confusing. A simple system, known by the abbreviation RACI, can be instrumental in defining responsibilities and avoiding confusion. This methodology involves breaking the procurement process down into steps. At every step in the process, each stakeholder is assigned a level of responsibility:
The chart at the top of this page shows the breakdown of the fleet procurement process and the role that each stakeholder plays.
For example, the second step in the acquisition process is developing the RFP. In this organization, Procurement is both accountable and responsible for this step, fleet and the end-user are consulted, and HR and risk are kept informed.
Developing a RACI matrix for processes that involve many stakeholders and where responsibilities may be overlapping is a positive step in avoiding conflicts and ensuring time spent on these tasks is optimized.