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Siemens Takes Fleet Detail to a New Level

November 2008, by Daryl Lubinsky

Data integrity. It’s becoming more important to fleet managers in these challenging economic times.

When you oversee 16,540 vehicles for the entire Siemens North America operation, a miscalculation in the fleet budget can mean millions of dollars. The company’s upper management not only wants to know how costs have changed over specific periods of time, but also in what areas they changed and why.

In the past, the Siemens fleet department’s budget process was an almost completely manual task.

"There wasn’t a lot of data integrity involved," says Jim McCarthy, director of vehicle management services for Siemens. "The cost projection tool Wheels developed changed that tremendously."

Fleet management company Wheels, Inc. recently rolled out two Web-based business intelligence tools to assist fleet managers in managing budgets. Expense Variance allows fleet managers to drill into seven different fleet expense categories to pinpoint where and why costs have changed over time. With Cost Projection, users plug in various estimates for factors affecting fleet costs, such as fleet size, capitalized cost, and fuel prices, to calculate future budget needs using prior-year and year-to-date data.

With the Expense Variance tool, Jim McCarthy at Siemens can drill down into seven categories of fleet expense to analyze and track budget data.

Saving Time with Accurate Data

McCarthy oversees a shared services operation covering vehicles for 18 Siemens clients and three non-Siemens clients. "Before, we just used a lot of hunches and gut feelings and historical extrapolations," McCarthy says. Now, the cost projection tool allows his department to insert specific parameters for individual operating companies and develop a per-operation company budget. In the past, one fleet budget covered all of Siemens. The company has been using the Expense Variance tool extensively for about three quarters.

Expense Variance has freed up previously unavailable time for McCarthy and his department and improved data integrity for analysis. Expense Variance allows for applications and filters such as organization structure, period, year, and vehicle make and model.

The user enters the desired parameters, and Expense Variance automatically prepares the fleet’s defined timeframe with the exact prior period. The initial analysis screen "provides an overall financial view as well as a cost-per-vehicle view so you’re able to get the big picture while at the same time understanding the inherent relevance of a per-vehicle picture," McCarthy says.

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