Fleet planning is a key strategic activity used to shape fleets and their corresponding management model to support adequate and sustainable solutions to organisational needs. Fleet planning encompasses the operational, technical, administrative and financial dimensions of individual organisations, and therefore tends to be very organisational specific.
A fleet plan may depend on donor specific requirements, and may be linked with other organisational policies, such as human resources, daily operations or security policies. Some organisations may require vehicles be restricted to specific projects while others utilise vehicle pools to serve multiple projects. Driving policies can vary from a strict reliance on a dedicated driver from the organisation to using staff to drive the vehicles.
The administrative policies of individual organisations will dictate which fleet management approach will be utilised, and the custodian of the fleet management function is very dependent on organisational policies and structures. In any case, the following elements should be considered:
- The transport needs in a given period:
- The context and the available infrastructure:
- Urban or remote settings.
- Other transport means available and how secure are they.
- Condition of roads.
- Administrative requirements for an agency to own a vehicle and for people to drive it.
- Basic supplies available like fuel and consumables.
- The costs of running a fleet and the available funding.
- The risks (financial, legal and security related) of owning and/or managing a fleet of vehicles.
The number of vehicles required should be determined in the planning phase. To do so, evaluate the different activities requiring vehicle transport and determine the number of people and the frequency required for each activity. Typical activities to consider, include:
- Field missions.
- Staff transportation:
- Between offices in the same region.
- Between accommodation and office or other working sites.
- Between offices and transport hubs (i.e., airport).
- Support of daily activities such as:
- Meetings and coordination.
- Private use of vehicles.
- Cargo movement.
Plans should be developed and resources made available to reallocate, dispose or purchase vehicles in case of scaling up or down, or to renew obsolete vehicles. Additionally, the right number and types of drivers should be evaluated and adjusted to match operations. HR policies such as maximum working hours per day or holidays should be considered. If the organisation is experiencing significant changes in terms of mobility demand or the operational context significantly changes, a deeper revision of the management model may be required, including:
- Outsourcing some of the fleet related services such as maintenance.
- Type of insurance.
- Recruiting more staff to deal with fleet related workflows.
- Shifting earliest departure time or latest arrival time.
- Incorporating security clearance or convoy procedures for specific movements.
All planning revision should incorporate budget requirements and the strategies to reduce fleet costs. A specific annual budget for fleet activities is strongly recommended including costs of vehicles, maintenance, consumption of fuel and other consumable items.
Costs to consider when making vehicle related decisions include acquisition, importation, fuel, insurance, repairs, maintenance, labour, toll and parking and disposal among others. The investment required for equipment to be installed in the vehicle, such as communications or safety equipment, shouldn’t be neglected when budgeting. If organisations do not take all the costs related to owning a fleet of vehicles, it can lead to funding challenges such as insufficient funds to maintain and repair the vehicles, to hire a fleet manager or to organise driver training.