The introduction of a sophisticated internet-based fleet management system by leading mobile phones provider Caudwell Holdings has not only radically improved operating effectiveness and efficiency but is the catalyst for a tightening of at-work driving health and safety practices and procedures.

Stoke-on-Trent headquartered Caudwell Holdings, whose subsidiaries include retailer Phones 4u, has replaced an outdated fleet management system, which was supplemented by around 30 paper spread sheets detailing numerous facets of the fleet, with Jaama’s multi award-winning web-based Key2 Vehicle Management technology.

Introduced nine months ago the technology provides the heartbeat for the management of the 1,300-strong company car fleet and 300 cash-for-car drivers.

Shortly, phase two of the implementation programme will kick-off with drivers being given access to the system through the company’s HR intranet site. This will include employees filling in monthly expense claims online with current mileage data and confirmation that vehicle maintenance checks have been carried out a crucial aspect of the process.

Caudwell Holdings’ leased fleet is operated on a 40-month/80,000-mile replacement cycle with Volkswagens for junior management grades and field-based sales representatives and the choice of BMW and Mercedes-Benz models for senior management.

The fleet operation is the responsibility of compensation and benefits manager Claire Walker, who said: “Our previous seven-year-old fleet management software had insufficient fields for a modern and growing fleet so we had to supplement the system with numerous spread sheets covering such issues as cash allowances, MoT reminders and incident management. It was a nightmare.”

For Caudwell Holdings’ fleet team of a fleet manager and three fleet administrators supplemented by up to 10 employees in subsidiary companies who had devolved part-time fleet responsibilities it was a never-ending process of inputting data.

Ms Walker explained: “In one tax year we had almost 5,000 vehicle handovers. That meant processing almost 5,000 pieces of paper for P11D purposes centrally. In addition, each subsidiary had to process the information. Add, in to the equation all the other aspects of fleet management - fuel, servicing, car hire, accidents etc - and it was obvious that as a modern company we had to update our systems.”

An analysis of available fleet management systems was conducted and Jaama’s Key2 Vehicle Management system was introduced as it ‘married’ up to Caudwell Holdings’ existing HR platform, enabled devolved management to subsidiary companies to occur so ending the company-wide ‘paper chase’ and would enable drivers and suppliers to input vital information online.

“Nine months after introducing phase one of the technology and operating efficiencies and administration effectiveness has improved immeasurably,” said Ms Walker. “We are saving hours and hours in administration time every month as well as thousands of pounds in overall costs and have cut invoice queries from 150 a month to zero.

“It was a nightmare inputting fleet data and also updating staff changes that had originated in HR. Our move to web-based software has reduced an almost impossible workload and all departments, including fleet, HR and payroll, as well as the fleet administrators in our subsidiary companies are benefiting.

“The technology is also enabling us to capture more information on our fleet so we can be far more proactive and analytical in our management. It is improving operating efficiencies and ultimately reducing costs still further.”

A major aspect of that development will see an increased occupational road risk management focus with all drivers having access before the autumn to their individual records via the company’s HR intranet.

Drivers will complete mileage records online and when they fill out their monthly expenses form they will have to acknowledge that they have undertaken checks on vehicle oil levels and tyre pressure and that due services and MoTs have been carried out. A failure to register the details will mean expenses are not paid and drivers who lie will find disciplinary action being taken.

“An audit check on vehicles, drivers and journeys is an essential part of fleet management in the 21st century,” said Ms Walker. “This will not only encourage drivers to take ownership of their vehicle, but will also provide us with valuable vehicle maintenance information which will help reduce operating costs. We have had to pay for two blown engines as a couple of drivers have been negligent in ensuring vehicles are serviced on schedule.

“However, most importantly it will reduce our risk exposure. Based on the mileage information we receive we will be able to more easily profile drivers and analyse work schedules to ensure employees are not spending too long on the road and putting themselves and other road users at risk.”

Additionally, company car drivers will order vehicles and acknowledge the handover of vehicles online. For cash for car drivers the technology will automatically flag up when insurance premiums and an MoT is due and if confirmation of renewals is not received by the company then the cash allowance is halted.

Ms Walker concluded: “Fleet management was grinding to a halt under an increasing and never-ending stream of paper. We were also concerned that our duty of care in respect of at-work drivers was not at the level it should be.

“The introduction of Jaama’s Key2 Vehicle Management has solved both problems and provided the company with levels of management reporting that we have previously not enjoyed. Not only has the inputting of a multiplicity of similar information for every driver been removed, but also the technology has bought clarity to both fleet management administration and pro-active forward-thinking. The cost of the system is miniscule compared with the savings we will make both administratively and financially.”

Jaama managing director Jason Francis said: “Caudwell Holdings is an excellent example of a company that understands the importance of choosing fleet technology that can fully integrate with systems operated by external suppliers and other company departments, such as HR, payroll and finance, and can also be accessed by drivers.

“Additionally, it is using the technology to substantially improve both its fleet and occupational road risk management practices. Companies that embrace such online solutions will reap numerous benefits that will prove to be extremely cost effective and assist with the implementation of best practice procedures in a multitude of areas.”

Please direct media enquiries to Ashley Martin at Ashley Martin Communications on 01733 390691, 07801 434338 or at ashley.martin32@btopenworld.com

High resolution photographs to accompany all Jaama press releases can be downloaded at http://www.jaama.co.uk/jaama_pr.aspx

About Jaama
Jaama is a fleet management software and occupational road safety specialist. As a certified Microsoft® development partner, Jaama uses the latest technology to provide customers with greater integration, control and automation. It brings innovative vehicle management software to fleet operators, contract hire and leasing companies. And Jaama is the first to combine fleet management software and risk management services to help customers meet their driver health and safety responsibilities under occupational road safety regulations.

Jaama Ltd. Unit B1 Mercian Court, Amber Close, Amington, Tamworth, B77 4RP

Published on: 12:00AM on 26th October 2006