This is part one of a two-part interview with Jen Thomas, Agile Fleet Tech Support & Implementation Lead.
Tech Support & Implementation Lead Jen Thomas formerly worked in the fleet department of Agile Fleet customer Sound Transit in Seattle, WA. Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and provides services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound and the busy urban areas of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. When Jen decided to move to Colorado, she needed employment. Luckily for Agile Fleet, Jen was the perfect candidate for tech support and implementation, because she truly understood the needs of the Agile Fleet customer, from a customer's point of view. Read more about how she helped Sound Transit transition to the FleetCommander fleet management information system, and how she now helps Agile Fleet customers with her unique perspective.
Q: Before you joined Agile Fleet, what was your position in fleet and briefly describe your responsibilities.
A: My fleet duties involved administrating FleetCommander, fleet data analysis, troubleshooting the key control system, assisting with policy revisions, and assisting the Fleet Manager with various projects. Basically, I was responsible for the day-to-day running of the fleet. The fleet manager handled the budgeting, purchasing, maintenance, and assignment of vehicles. However, I was not considered a full-time fleet person. My primary job was to be the administrative assistant for the Director of Facilities and Asset Control and support all of the divisions that reported to her. Fleet was supposed to be about 30% of my time.
Q: How did you learn about FleetCommander?
A: Before we ever knew about FleetCommander at Sound Transit, I was involved taking the minutes at a series of meetings focused on increasing fleet efficiency. I knew nothing about fleet at the time, but I was struck by how disorganized the process seemed. I left the meetings with the feeling that there must be a better way to manage things, so I did a Google search to see what was available. FleetCommander was one of the options that appeared.
Q: What was it like going from an Agile Fleet customer to Agile Fleet customer support and implementation?
A: It was an interesting evolution. As an Agile Fleet customer, my focus was on my specific fleet. I learned the functions that would benefit me and reduce the complaints or requests from my drivers. When I made the move to Agile Fleet, I had to broaden my viewpoint. I learned how different fleet policies affect the way customers could use FleetCommander. It was fascinating, but also challenging.
Q: What unique perspective do you have to offer customers?
A: One of the things that surprised me when I started working at Agile Fleet was that although the Agile staff had been involved in the implementation of many fleet automation projects, only a few had ever managed a fleet themselves. They focused on the ability of FleetCommander to provide utilization data and to help fleets to right size. While those are very strong benefits for the system, a typical fleet manager doesn’t run utilization reports every day. In my experience, it was the day-to-day functionality that I was most familiar with. Things like the ability for drivers to make their own reservations and be confident that the vehicle they reserved would be available. The ability to research reservations and know who had a vehicle when. Sound Transit had a key control system, so there was also the ease with which drivers were able to get their keys 24/7. Learning how to communicate with drivers effectively was important because I had many other tasks on my plate. Answering questions for drivers or fielding angry phone calls was something I definitely wanted to minimize. I would like to add that I think my coworkers here at Agile Fleet have been very interested in my perspective. I have had many conversations where people picked my brain for ideas about how to handle something a customer had experienced. Many of my suggestions on how to make things more efficient have been incorporated in FleetCommander. I have been impressed by Agile’s enthusiasm for my ideas and perspective.
Keep an eye out next month for part two of a two-part Interview with Jen Thomas, Agile Fleet Tech Support and Implementation Lead.