The fleet procurement process, like most other aspects of fleet, is heavily dependent on the capabilities of modern-day technology. The data and processes from solutions such as telematics and online-based procurement systems help fleet and procurement professionals understand more about their operations and make impactful decisions.
Effective analysis of the data made accessible to fleets can make or break how efficient the process is for organizations.
"Today, data analytics have allowed us to consume fleet data more readily and in a real-time basis," said Arnie Braun, director of enterprise fleet operations of Cox Enterprises. "These same platforms also allow us to segment data in numerous ways to provide insight on how various vendors impact our total cost of ownership and optimal life cycle parameters."
Being able to parse through specific types of data is key for fleets looking to efficiently address procurement, which fleets can use to benchmark against other standards.
"Technology is the great equalizer. The internet provides visibility to what's available in any given market," said Dain Giesie, AVP of business development for Enterprise Fleet Management. "In the case of fleet management, it's much easier for an organization to find use cases of similarly situated companies and assess how available fleet solutions align with their organization's specific needs. This abundance of information and use cases makes it much easier to make informed decisions."
Leveraging Technology for RFPs and More
One other way at making an informed decision is by analyzing fleet information to track key performance indicators (KPIs).
"It is essential for organizations to identify their key performance indicators (KPIs), then track and manage a complete set of consistent metrics against those KPIs," said Giesie. "This data assists in the decision-making process by allowing an organization to search for solutions that best address their specific fleet needs — and ultimately leads to right-sizing and right-typing their fleet."
This in turn helps make the RFP process much simpler and reduces the likelihood of the fleet being matched with a supplier that cannot accommodate company needs. Available online-based procurement systems, such as SAP Ariba, help connect buyers to vendors.
"Technology has allowed fleets to understand the true drivers of cost and quality which allows procurement teams to focus on the right questions and narrow down potential suppliers," said Braun. "This reduces inefficiencies throughout the RFP process while also allowing for better evaluation of vendors, services and products."
Giesie added to how technology can aid in the RFP process between buyer and seller.
"Technology not only allows more companies to respond to RFPs, which can result in lower costs and better solutions, but it also enables organizations to create a more relevant scope of work based on their specific fleet needs," said Giesie.
Despite how much technology can aid in fleet procurement, care and time must be taken to properly front load the system with the correct parameters to ensure that an online-procurement system targets the specific needs to fleet, such as TCO and other operating costs.
"If you take the time to properly set up the RFP to reflect the service nature of the spend, then you will maximize your rewards," said Michael Bieger, co-founder of Black River Fleet, a fleet consulting company. "Too often procurement ignores this step and launches a tender that does not take all the service aspects of the fleet into account and so loses the chance for maximum cost and operational benefit; it can even result in the wrong supplier being chosen."
However, even leveraging relatively simple technology such as online forms in lieu of paper forms could go a long way in improving the fleet RFP process, noted Giesie.
Looking ahead, technology that will help fleet managers become more proactive in their decision making will further improve the efficiency of the procurement process.
"Additional advancements that will allow for proactive analysis and management of an asset will change vehicle acquisition decisions, as loss of productivity is currently a significant driver that limits a vehicle or component life cycle," said Braun. "By being able to better predict and address failures, buying cycles could be extended and the overall cost of the fleet reduced."