Mercury Associates Develops and Administers Survey to Fleet Management Organizations
Leading Fleet Management Consultancy Partners with National Conference of State Fleet Administrators to Develop Information on Industry Practices and Challenges
Rockville, MD (December 5, 2018) — Mercury Associates, Inc., the largest dedicated fleet management consultancy in North America, recently partnered with the National Conference of State Fleet Administrators (NCSFA) to develop and administer a survey of state government and state university fleet management organizations (FMOs). The survey, which resulted in a Benchmarking Survey Report, was designed to collect information aimed at better understanding current industry fleet management practices.
“It was a pleasure to partner with NCSFA to inform and educate its members and other fleet professionals about industry conditions, practices, and trends so that they can improve their fleet management programs,” stated Paul Lauria, President of Mercury Associates. “NCSFA has been a highly-respected source of information on the unique challenges of managing state government and university fleets since its establishment in 1987, and Mercury has provided consulting services to more than 30 states and more than 40 state colleges and universities, so this project represented a great opportunity to leverage the combined experience and expertise of our organizations.
“We both recognize that one of the key requirements for effective inter-organizational benchmarking is standard industry definitions of fleet management practices and performance measures. This year’s survey afforded us the opportunity to rethink how to accomplish this and lay the groundwork for future biennial surveys which will better enable NCSFA to publish both best practices information and key performance indicators based on true ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons across states and their higher education institutions.”
Mercury, which has a long history of providing consulting, information technology, and professional development services to public and private-sector fleet operations, collaborated with NCSFA to develop a Web-based questionnaire for gathering a broad array of qualitative and quantitative information about FMOs’ business practices and about the fleets they manage. The survey covered the following topic areas: fleet demographics (fleet size and composition, FMO organization and staffing, annual expenditures, etc.); asset allocation and utilization; asset acquisition and disposal; fleet safety management; fleet fueling; fleet replacement; fleet management information technology; cost charge-back practices; and fleet industry trends, challenges and opportunities.
The Mercury consultants arrived at some key conclusions:
- Fleet management business practices are not sufficiently institutionalized
There is a lack of formalized fleet management policies and procedures, which is a major concern given the impending retirement of Baby Boom generation fleet management professionals and the loss of decades of technical expertise and practical experience. FMOs need to be developing and implementing formal policies and procedures to guide all key business practices in order to prepare for this “brain drain.”
- Fleet replacement practices are not optimized
Many FMOs have failed to capitalize on the strong economy to modernize the fleets they manage, and survey response data suggests that the next economic downturn may result in setbacks in fleet replacement plans and budgets.
- Cost transparency and accountability need to be improved
You can’t manage costs you can’t see, and survey results reveal that many charge-back systems used by state government and state university FMOs are not designed to make costs truly visible and manageable.
- Technology “enablement” of fleet management practices must accelerate
Data-driven decision making is no longer optional in this age of data immersion. A properly used fleet management information system is perhaps the key tool in the industry for making decisions that lead to better cost control, process improvements, reduced fleet total cost of ownership, and improved fleet performance (reliability, safety, sustainability, etc.).
“Mercury has provided guidance to fleet owners across a wide variety of industries,” added Lauria, “which has led to improved transportation and fleet management practices. The insights we gained through this collaboration with NCSFA is on par with what we have been seeing throughout the fleet world, and the time is now for fleet owners and fleet managers to improve their fleet management programs. When the next economic downturn occurs, there will be little appetite for investing in the kinds of resource and business process improvements FMOs will require to meet the combination of automotive technology changes, information technology advances, and workforce changes bearing down on fleet owners across the country. This year’s Benchmarking Survey Report gives the members of NCSFA a lot of information to consider as they think about how to tackle these challenges.”
“NCSFA continues to create a better understanding of the industry in which our members serve each day,” stated Scott Edwards, NCSFA President and Fleet Manager for the State of Colorado. “With the rapidly changing industry disruptors, it is extremely important for us to gather practical, real-world information to guide our members. Our collaboration with Mercury Associates represents the most in-depth review to date of our members’ current fleet conditions and fleet management capabilities and needs. This information serves as one of the key building blocks for future NCSFA training and strategic leadership initiatives.”
For more information about Mercury Associates, Inc. and its fleet management advisory and related services, please visit www.mercury-assoc.com.