By Rob Wilson – Director IPWEA FLEET
Strategic planning and operational responsiveness – Getting the balance right
IPWEA held its Australasian Fleet Conference on 28-30 March. It was great to be back face-to-face, meeting others in the industry and hearing about best practice and evolving trends in the fleet industry. So many people commented about how good it was to be experiencing this kind of industry event again.
The theme for the conference was Leading Fleet Management Through Change. What an apt and timely topic given our experience of recent times. A key takeaway for me was that fleet practitioners need to get the balance right between strategic planning and operational responsiveness.
Strategic planning by its very nature is about medium to long-term goals and high consequence decisions. It’s about understanding where the organisation, the industry and the regulators are going and what the industry will look like over say the next three years so that you can prepare the fleet operation to thrive in this future environment. Of course, as fleet practitioners we know that the day-to-day demands don’t stop and time for longer-term planning is not easy to find.
It's important to find some “think time” with the team and consider what the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead may be. For me, that is one of the benefits of a face-to-face conference. It gets you away from the office and provides an opportunity to listen and think.
It is also useful to set one day aside with your team, preferably off-site, to reflect on what has happened over the last 12 months, critically review your fleet operation, and consider challenges and opportunities that might arise over the medium term. From that kind of collaborative process, you might identify two or three key initiatives that you can implement over the coming 12 months to make a difference.
In his presentation on Leadership in Fleet Management, Ken Goldberg spoke about City of Gold Coast’s Strategic Plan on a Page. A simple, practical, and effective way to document, communicate and monitor significant strategic initiatives.
Strategic planning and leadership do not have to be academic and onerous. It can be efficient and effective. And it needs to be done.