3 Feb 23

How to engage internal stakeholders in fleet strategy and policy

Communication, openness, clarity and hierarchy are key to driving fleet strategies forward.

International fleet managers are the hub of a constantly turning wheel, with each spoke connecting to an important stakeholder, according to two multi-national fleet procurement experts responsible for a combined fleet of over 6,000 vehicles on five continents.

Delivering exclusive presentations to the Global Fleet Managers Club, the exclusive networking club for global and regional fleet decision makers to share expertise and best practices (no suppliers allowed!), Nathalie Fulconis, Global General Expenses Procurement Manager, Pernod Ricard, and Indra van den Berge, Global Procurement Category Manager, Fleet, DS Smith, highlighted the importance of engaging all stakeholders involved in fleet strategy, policy and operations to achieve successful outcomes.

Fleet is so dynamic that it demands specific attention as a procurement category, with electrification and wider mobility programmes forcing rapid changes to corporate policies.  The need to widen the pool of manufacturer suppliers to secure sufficient supply of electric vehicles, for example, has meant that purchasing agreements cannot be left static between tenders.

Regular communication

Coordinating regular communication between all parties involved is vital, with the experts revealing how they maintain the momentum of their fleet initiatives by keeping all stakeholders up-to-date. From general newsletters about developments and challenges in the wider automotive market to internal progress reports, group meetings via video conference to scheduled one-to-one calls, executives at the heart of fleet decision making are involving their principal stakeholders on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.

There should be no secrets, they said, with all relevant files shared openly on central drives, accessible to all stakeholders.

This openness is essential given the emotional dimension of company cars, which sets them apart from many other categories of spend. This can leave fleet as a battleground between finance departments, which want to minimise cost, and HR teams, which are focused on talent recruitment and retention, so it’s vital that a clear fleet policy is underpinned by a disciplined corporate hierarchy.

Senior management support

Not only should the most senior managers support and sign off a fleet policy but, ideally, they will also support the communication to stakeholders. Then, if stakeholders want to diverge from this policy, requests for non-compliance should escalate back up to senior management so that all parties are aware of how seriously the company regards its established fleet policy.

This does not, however, mean that the benefits of centrally negotiated contracts should be kept centrally, with one of the presenters to the Global Fleet Managers Club emphasising the need to cascade any bonuses from a multi-national supply agreement back to the regions, so that all parties reap the rewards.

Make a date in your diary now for the next meeting of the Global Fleet Managers Club, on 6 April, which will discuss how to translate a global fleet strategy into a regional fleet policy.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning