6 Dec 17

Thirty fleet managers exploring how to develop a global fleet strategy at IFMI 2017

The Portuguese city of Estoril was the scene for the International Fleet Managers Institute session on 5th December 2017. A record turn-out of 30 international fleet managers gathered to discuss the latest trends and best practices for fleet management.

A number of leading professionals shared their insights on a wide variety of topics and were challenged by the active and keen participants, including representatives of Microsoft, NCR, Procter & Gamble, UCB, Cargill and Jones Lang LaSalle.

Building blocks
Thor Konings, International Account Director at Athlon International and Marc Van Eck, Senior Business Development Manager at ALD Automotive, presented the building blocks for an international strategy and the key steps in deploying an international fleet strategy. They also covered the reasons why fleet management should be taken to a global level: through a mix of technological and social changes, the world is becoming a smaller place and it makes sense for management practices to mirror this new reality.

They were followed by Julie Le Guillou, International Consultant at Arval and Mathijs van der Goot, Senior consultant at LeasePlan International, who took on the obstacles of moving fleet management globally and gave some useful tips to tackle local resistance, the lack of transparent data and processes that are too complicated. They also offered strategies to strengthen expertise and to get sponsors on board.

The participants pointed out the importance of wording, as some terms are better avoided to prevent internal reticence within their companies. Examples like mandate and global were given, the latter of which often being associated with one-size-fits-all policies and a loss of autonomy and freedom.

Most speakers stressed the importance of regional differences. Global management strategies have their limitations and always need to take into consideration differences in taxation, remuneration, expectation and mobility. American companies, for instance, often do not understand the enormous demand for company cars in Europe. On the other side of the globe, in China, cars are hardly useful in crowded cities that offer good public transport.

After these first speakers, four case studies were presented. Andy Leeden, Global Fleet Category Manager at AstraZeneca, covered the missions, roles and responsibility of the international fleet manager. He stressed the importance of clear guiding principles and senior sponsorship. Fleet managers also need to be resilient and flexible and to understand collaboration is the key to success.

Juergen Freitag, Senior Director at Siemens, set forth his views on governance and stakeholder management, focussing on the benefits of a global strategy compared to local strategies.

Lee Warner, Global Fleet Manager at Unilever explained how his company went about implementing a global fleet strategy. Regional differences need to be allowed for but local Unilever policies can only be the same or stricter as the global framework.

Joe Carreira, European Fleet Manager at MSD, ended the case studies with tips on implementing fleet management on a global level. In his experience, certain aspects cannot be moved to a global level and need to remain local, due to insufficient market presence of global suppliers or diverging taxation and other regulations. Careful planning, however, can make global fleet management a success.

Fleet Management in practice
The afternoon was dedicated to working groups. A first group, led by Yves Helven, Global Fleet APAC Editor, took on the issue of selecting the right funding method: lease or buy? The answer is a complex one and is not limited to financial considerations. The vehicle-to-staff ratio, for instance, is much higher when buying cars than when leasing. Other issues in terms of mobility are also increasingly being taken into account.

Another group, animated by Henrik Schmidt Lundberg, discussed the building blocks of the global OEM tender implemented by his company, ISS World Services. It is a convoluted and long process but they now reap the harvest of their efforts.

The third working group took on the ABC of a global safety programme and was presented by Csaba Csiszko of Philip Morris International. His company operates a granular distribution system, often in high-risk areas and with high-risk people. Over the last decade, Mr Csiszko’s company developed an impressive health and safety programme that completely overhauled the company culture. His main takeaway was that companies shouldn’t focus on implementing features or a policy but that they should look at the whole corporate environment.

The last working group discussed the transformation from fleet to mobility in a global fleet management and was led by Alexandra Melville of Accenture and Markus Falk of SAP. They stressed the importance of flexible budgets and compensation programmes. The key driver in the process was employee satisfaction, as costs can be avoided by retaining staff. As with many other issues, global sponsorship is not to be neglected: how do you insure that the top of the organisation is fully on board?

At the end of the long but productive day, all participants were offered the official IFMI certificate and an invitation to join the IFMI session for the end of 2018 that is set to be equally interesting and enriching.

Author: Benjamin Uyttebroeck