This is Part Two of a two-part Interview with David Ancell, former Manager of Motor Pool and Data Operations for the State of Michigan. If you missed Part One, you can read it here.
Guest blogger and fleet expert David Ancell worked in fleet for the State of Michigan for 16 years. For three years, he served as the Director of State Purchasing. For the remainder of his career, he oversaw the management of the State’s large-scale motor pool operation as the Manager of Motor Pool and Data Operations, which operated 15 sites across the state. Ancell also worked in senior management for the State of Iowa for 26 years where he managed several large-scale enterprise level projects.
Part 2: Rolling out fleet technology
Q: Once you decided to implement fleet technology, what steps did you take to communicate and roll out your fleet automation plan to fleet staff, management, and drivers?
A: Our business plan included several steps to communicate with department management, management at the location, and the drivers. Steps we took (and I recommend) are:
- Establish a management sponsor at the motor pool location and address their concerns. For example, in our two first motor pool locations a regional Department of Human Services Director was concerned about the number of vehicles that were parked in the lot that could have been used by his staff to perform their jobs.
- Hold an initial meeting. Meet with the management at the proposed motor pool site to explain the concept and the type of data that will be requested. This is a good way to identify the type of business that is being performed by the vehicles and to determine if resistance would be encountered.
- Evaluate data. Make an assessment of the utilization of the vehicles at the location and make an initial proposal on which vehicles are to be moved to the motor pool. Talk about potential savings at this time.
- Consult with the business unit. What appears as an appropriate move of a vehicle to a motor pool isn’t always correct. For example, critical equipment might be stored in a vehicle for fast reaction to an environmental situation. Be aware there is a lot of exaggeration in this step.
- Communicate with stakeholders about the change. Inform management and drivers of the change of assignment and establishment of the motor pool.
- Train drivers and staff. Hold training sessions for all of the drivers at the location. With FleetCommander, most drivers simply follow instructions provided on a “getting started” email, and that is all that is needed. For fleet staff, Agile provides extensive online training.
Q: How did things improve once you implemented technology to manage your motor pool?
A: By incorporating fleet technology into our operations, we achieved efficiencies we never thought possible, like managing our entire 15-site fleet with total visibility. We were able to analyze real-time utilization rates so we can make good decisions about more efficient use of pooled vehicles. One of the most significant benefits of the system was the improved utilization of vehicles, along with an increase in the number of people who had access to them. Our utilization analysis of permanently assigned vehicles revealed that most of the vehicles at one state office building, for example, were being used less than 50% of the time. That meant that those vehicles were sitting in parking lots for over 10 working days per month. Armed with that data, we reassigned the vehicles to the motor pool which allowed many other drivers to have access to the vehicles. The drivers of the permanently-assigned vehicles were not happy, but there were many drivers who thanked us because they never had access to state vehicles until that happened. We had more than 7,000 drivers who could access motor pool vehicles at seven different locations. Conversely, we were able to gather the data needed to understand that there are certain cases where permanent assignment of vehicles made economic sense. Another benefit was that the total number of vehicles was reduced by 30% based on the reassignment of vehicles to the motor pool for each site. Our utilization increased to over 70%. The cost of the vehicles, their maintenance, and the associated mileage reimbursement was significantly lowered. With increased budget and business unit work demands, FleetCommander provided the data we needed to do the analysis so we could right-size our motor pools to the most efficient size to meet customer needs. Another benefit was getting billing for the use of the vehicle under control.
Q: How did the implementation of FleetCommander impact the State’s expense related to Personally-Owned Vehicles (POV)?
A: Controlling reimbursement for personal vehicle use was not even a consideration in the initial pools implemented 10 years ago because we did not have data to evaluate. Now that data is available through our automation, POV expenses have been greatly reduced.
Q: Overall, how would you describe your experience implementing fleet technology?
A: Overall our experience has been very positive. Working with FleetCommander staff was like a partnership. It says something about a product when we can roll FleetCommander out to 9 new sites without as much as a whimper from them.