Colorado State Fleet Manager Scott Edwards, CAFM, has worked in the field of fleet management for more than two decades. As Colorado's State Fleet Manager, he oversees the state's 6,100 light and medium-duty vehicles. In the past, Edwards served as the long-time fleet manager for University of Colorado, as well as the university's interim assistant director of transportation. Edwards has held multiple positions in the Rocky Mountain chapter of NAFA, and has been an expert witness in the area of fleet maintenance and DOT regulation.
Interview with Scott Edwards, CAFM, Fleet Manager for the State of Colorado
Q: Tell us about the challenges the Colorado fleet faced prior to automating.
A: Some of the challenges we faced were how to manage vehicle scheduling, dispatching, and reporting processes associated with sharing vehicles. Like a lot of organizations struggling with a motor pool, we were spending a lot of time creating paper schedules or spreadsheets trying to track the process. It wasn’t very transparent, wasn’t very efficient or flexible. We also needed to geographically locate vehicles where they needed to be, right size the fleet, and gather utilization statistics.
Q: What was your approach to right sizing once you implemented fleet technology?
A: We started with 60 vehicles. Since then we have been able to reduce the fleet by 30%. We gradually used the data to nibble down to 42 vehicles in the motor pool fleet. The fact that the utilization data was available to us in such a transparent way enabled us to save $360,000 in cost avoidance for vehicles we didn’t have to purchase. We saw immediate opportunities for savings as soon as we started collecting the data. And the fact that the system is so reliable contributes to our efficiency. We don’t spend a lot of time with FleetCommander customer support trying to solve problems with the system.
Q: What other efficiencies were you able to achieve?
A: We were spending 30 minutes per vehicle on our end of month billing process. That translated into 30 hours a month working on the billing process alone, not even accounting for the hours spent arranging for vehicle scheduling and other motor pool management processes. Now, fleet vehicles and fleet data is available to us 24/7. Billing is automated and it is a huge improvement for us. Our staff is able to focus on core business functions. In the past we needed three people just to manage the motor pool, now we just have one. Offering access to vehicles around the clock through a self-service motor pool was also a significant service to drivers. Offering vehicle scheduling via online reservations is a major efficiency not only to drivers but also to the fleet staff who can now focus on other core business functions.
Q: What advice would you give to an organization interested in starting a car sharing initiative?
A: Understand where the savings and efficiencies can be achieved is key in a successful vehicle sharing initiative. Compare the cost of using personally-owned vehicles (POVs) versus sharing vehicles and you will see immediate opportunities to save those POV expenses. Once you can collect the data you can easily see where you can reduce vehicles that are unneeded, and that’s where significant savings are. It’s also a good thing to create a motor pool mindset within your organization. Make sure people know you are focused on not only getting the most efficient use out of vehicles, but also providing the right type of vehicles for the job. You can actually consider adding vehicles to meet needs based on complex work environments such as Human Services organizations. The data will tell you what types of vehicles and how many you may need. We want to be viewed as providing a resource to people, not one that is taking anything away. Cast as wide a net as possible when communicating with people about the system. Get the word out as much as possible and have training available to encourage as many people as possible to interact with the system. The more you can get people using the system and viewing it as a resource, the higher your utilization will be.
Q: Any final words of advice?
A: A vehicle sharing program is an ongoing process. Get the data, make decisions, and whittle down costs. Then keep doing that as you go along. Embrace change, and get the buy-in from agencies and people you are serving.