By: Peter Carr EROAD Director, Regulatory Market Development ANZ
Few people enjoy being tossed around like a ship in a storm, yet we can find events beyond our control making us feel, if even only a little or only occasionally, just like that.
A trick is to keep in mind those things that can be controlled and make sure they don’t get neglected. These controllable things include tangible things like your business’ assets, including its vehicle fleet, and intangible things like your business’ goals and its financial performance targets, including vehicle whole-of-life costs and required return on investment.
The heart of strategy is knowing where you are now, and where you want to be. When being strategic, you take honest stock of your resources (vehicle types and conditions), the market conditions (the jobs you have), and your assumptions about how these will change over time. Then you make your plans, set them in action, and monitor what happens so you can adapt to what is really going on.
Strategy without action is just dreaming, and you can’t spend all your time gathering and examining data. But good strategy needs good data. Insight flows from engaging with this data. The more you can take assumptions, prejudice and guesswork out of your calculations, the more useful and reliable the insight, and the greater the odds of adopting an effective strategy that fits the real world around you.
Big businesses enjoy a lot of advantages when it comes to strategy because they have the scale to free up the resources. But smaller businesses are more and more able to get into the game, for example by:
- taking advantage of standards to understand what data to gather, how often and to what level of detail, e.g. TruckSafe’s Standard A: Business Management and Standard G: Vehicle Standards (Maintenance) Management
- accessing simple apps on mobile devices to reduce data gathering times and eliminate paper and double-handling, e.g. to capture daily inspection notes and convert these to job records
- pulling data together on laptops and tablets to allow deeper analysis of actual maintenance costs and needs, or of the best fit of trucks to jobs, or of transit times to jobs, and so on.
Still, even the best strategy, can’t control everything. In fact, it is unhealthy to narrowly focus only on those things that can be controlled. Life is uncertain. Nasty surprises – sometimes called ‘black swan events’ – can strike from out of the blue. Living involves lifting your head up and accepting risk, which your strategy will equip you to do by giving you a sound foundation to lift off from.
About the author
Peter Carr is the Director Regulatory Market Development with EROAD Ltd, responsible for working with government policy agencies and regulators across Australia and New Zealand on road safety, funding and taxation matters. Prior to joining EROAD, Peter was responsible for advising the New Zealand government on: the operation and performance of the land transport revenue, funding and investment systems; the rates of Road User Charges and Fuel Excise Duty; the use of tolling, debt and public-private partnerships; and the regulatory settings for heavy vehicle dimensions, mass, and access.