Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

AT&T Fleet Connects to the Right Solutions

Right-sizing vehicles, utilizing technology, and employing an alternative-fuel vehicle fleet, where appropriate, allows AT&T’s Fleet Operations to cost effectively manage its fleet of more than 85,000 vehicles.

July 2009, by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

With more than 85,000 vehicles and 20,000 pieces of wheeled work equipment, AT&T's Fleet Operations' primary strength centers on its people. Providing company drivers with a world-class fleet remains paramount for a company known for offering world-class communications service.

"AT&T connects people to their world, where they work and live, and we pride ourselves on doing it better than anyone else," said Jerome Webber, vice president of fleet operations, AT&T Services Inc., based in Dallas. "Fleet Operations is a critical component of this, as we are on the ground in communities across the nation providing service to our customers."

AT&T Fleet Operations, as of April, employs approximately 550 management and non-management employees, who provide end-to-end administration of company vehicles that primarily support AT&T's Network Services organization, including Installation & Maintenance, Construction, and Central Office Operations. Vehicles are also used by other departments throughout the company, such as Mobility, Logistics, and Sales.

AT&T's fleet comprises a range of vehicle types, including light utility-bed trucks, vans, light aerial lift trucks, medium/heavy trucks, passenger cars, pickups, and wheeled work equipment. The majority of vehicles are manufactured by Ford and General Motors.

AT&T Strives for the Best Service for Customers

The company's geographic reach is global, as AT&T provides services in all 50 U.S. states and more than 160 countries. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation's fastest 3G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high-speed Internet, and voice services to about 300 million people around the world, according to the company.

"We proudly offer the best wireless coverage worldwide and offer the most wireless phones that work in the greatest number of countries," Webber said.

The company, which has 294,600 employees worldwide, also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse and AT&T • DIRECTV brands. The company's suite of Internet Protocol (IP)-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world.

AT&T Fleet Operations is one of several internal organizations - including Global Strategic Sourcing, Supply Chain Operations, Purchasing, and Supplier Diversity - that comprise AT&T Supply Chain and Fleet Operations.

"Our employees take pride in what they do and are dedicated to serving their clients to the best of their ability every day," said Webber.

Fleet Operations Strategizes to Better Manage Costs

Proactively managing costs and efficiencies is also vital for the success of the fleet department, allowing management to standardize policy, better utilize technology, and implement the integration of efficient alternative fuels.

"AT&T Fleet Operations also has a strong focus on results. We work hard to measure results and make sound business decisions based on those results," Webber said.

The organization strives to maximize fleet utilization by right-sizing the number of company vehicles. The team painstakingly analyzes all vehicle options, ensuring the perfect fit is selected for the job at hand.

"We want the right mix, in the right place, at the right time," Webber explained. "Develop a strategy and set goals that work for your company. It's about taking steps in the right direction, not determining a one-time, one-size-fits-all solution."

And, as is true with many organizations, there is an ongoing need for capital to fund replacement vehicles, so the fleet team continually works toward containing costs by making its fleet as efficient as possible.

"AT&T Fleet Operations is in the process of standardizing vendors, policies, methods, and procedures corporate-wide to decrease variation and leverage synergies throughout the organization," Webber said. "Fleet standardization will allow us to develop consistent practices and procedures that will decrease operational variability, reduce costs, and improve service levels throughout the corporation."

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