Chevin Fleet Solutions: An informed decision – Ashley Sowerby
Reducing both cost and risk is critical to efficient fleet management. Ashley Sowerby, managing director at Chevin Fleet Solutions, talks to FDE about the benefits of the company's new management reporting suite.
With the economic crisis affecting the performance of many companies, finance directors are looking to reduce their overall expenditure. That includes fleet management, where the costs are high and often difficult to gauge. Full control involves mastering various kinds of data-streams including fuel procurement, inventory purchasing, CO2 emissions and vehicle-leasing contracts.
It's a protracted affair at a time where senior staff face potentially difficult budgetary decisions, and it creates a dilemma for fleet managers who see the value in tracking data, but don't necessarily have the time to do it.
"We saw a Catch-22," says Ashley Sowerby, managing director at Chevin Fleet Solutions. "Do fleet managers devote time to manual reporting and sacrifice essential day to day tasks? - or do they devote time to day to day tasks and forgo the reporting necessary to facilitate continuous improvement and cost savings?"
Life is suite
The management reporting suite is a new web-reporting tool, designed by Chevin to solve exactly that dilemma. It brings together the information thrown up by the everyday operational challenges of a fleet department, in a way that finance directors can easily digest and analyse.
"The tool came about after speaking in-depth with many of our clients," Sowerby says. "What we found was that although Fleetway - another of our products - gave every single piece of information needed, our clients would have to take that information, and turn it into charts and graphs themselves. We realised that the next logical step was to provide that service out of the box - delivered to the client directly."
The new tool draws fleet data from a centralised system and turns it into a graphically suitable chart that can give finance directors all the detail they need in order to make sensible and informed decisions.
"The reports can be automatically emailed to finance directors," Sowerby says. "That enables them to gain quick visibility over the fleet department's spend and performance against a series of pre-set KPIs. Effective changes can then be implemented and costs reduced."
Sowerby is optimistic that potential cost savings can reach between 5-10%, an attractive proposition in today's climate. Equally positive is the possible return on investment.
"The cost of the management reporting suite relative to any potential savings is miniscule," he says. "In fleet management, there's an awful lot of information. What if we take 50 companies from lease company A and 50 vehicles from lease company B? What are the potential savings there? It's the sudden visibility of that kind of information that leads to the returns and savings."
Despite being an out-of-the-box solution, one of the tool's main advantages is its flexibility. Rather than constraining the user, it's been designed in a way that grows around the different practices and operations of today's companies.
"With large fleets a lot of information is only used on a company-by-company basis." Sowerby says. "If you've got a multi-company enterprise structure, each individual one is running the fleet through its own sets of accounts. What management reporting enables you to do is take a higher-level view of all the different entities within the organisation."
Knowledge is power
Sowerby set up Chevin back in 1990, and has since grown the company into an award-winning global business with offices in the UK, the US, Australia and Belgium. As the only dedicated fleet software company with a worldwide reach, Chevin works with a range of entities, from blue chip businesses to local government authorities.
"We've stayed true to our initial aim, which was fleet management software," he says. "We had opportunities to go into other areas, but we'd rather be a specialist in an area we know well than another player in an already saturated market. Most of our people are very hands-on with the product, either from on the development side, projects or implementation."
As one of the longest-standing providers of fleet software solutions on the market, Sowerby remains confident about the future of Chevin's latest product, and the new ways of reporting data the company is developing for 2013.