By Wendy Eichenbaum
NAFA rolled out its Sustainable Fleet Accreditation Program at their conference in April 2015. In an exclusive follow-up interview with Fleet Management Weekly, NAFA’s immediate Past President Claude Masters discussed the use of metrics in the accreditation process. “We talked about all of the different metrics that we use to help to evaluate a fleet’s performance, and how they reach one of the tiered levels in the accreditation,” he said.
But right after that, Masters further commented, “Again it’s not as simple as this. But there are points [to earn] for having things like a plan, for example. What’s your plan? And what kind of tools are you using?” So while metrics are extremely important, they can’t be created in a vacuum. There are several other pieces of the puzzle you need to define before you can create your metrics.
What are the other pieces of that puzzle? That puzzle covers the same points that a newspaper article follows: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why.
It’s crucial that you start with Why. The Why is your purpose for doing something. Perhaps your purpose is to complete the accreditation program. Or perhaps your purpose is to craft a sustainability program that enables you to deliver a high quality, cost-effective services that sustains the environment. Once you define your purpose, everything that you do should focus on achieving this purpose.
Next you want to define the What, which are your goals. These goals are the tasks you must complete in order to achieve your purpose. Masters referred to the goals as the “plan.” NAFA spells out a number of goals to cover in order to achieve accreditation including a reduction of fuel burn and the use of alternative fuels. You will likely have additional goals you want to cover for your sustainability plan, such as reducing your carbon footprint or improving route efficiency.
Only once you define your goals can you create your metrics. As I discussed in May, Measuring Sustainability & Success, metrics follow a simple formula: Goal + Quantifiable Change + Time Period/Location. Here the quantifiable change is the How Much, time period is When, and the location is Where.
For instance, you can set a goal to reduce idle time. However, you won’t have a metric until you define the parameters of change. So you can state that you want drivers to reduce idle time (goal) by 20% (change) at the end of this year (time period), and by 35% at the end of next year. Or you want to purchase one alternative fuel vehicle each quarter. The parameters indicate how much change you need in order to achieve success.
And, you must track this metric data. According to Masters, “One of the most important aspects of the program, having the data – internally or through a fleet management company – was a cornerstone of a very important aspect of our program because we wanted fleets to be able to prove what they were doing and that they were making a difference.”
In order to achieve the goal, you also need to define the tool or mechanism to implement each goal. This mechanism is the How. For instance, as you retire your vehicles, you may purchase new vehicles that use alternative fuels. Or, you may enact new guidelines for truckers, mandating that they turn off their trucks in certain scenarios in order to reduce idle time. It’s up to you what you want to do. Masters stated, “NAFA doesn’t really dictate the methods or methodology that you use to do that. Fundamentally we’re just measuring what you’re doing in a measurable way.”
Since you are pursuing the accreditation or defining the sustainability plan to improve your business practices, the Who is your business. But you also must consider your vendors and customers who will be affected by your sustainability plan and any actions you to take to complete the accreditation.
While metrics are key to attaining goals set out by NAFA, you need to define all the pieces in the puzzle– the Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why. This way, you won’t find yourself trying to achieve results that are contrary to your overall purpose. And this big picture approach applies not only to a sustainability plan, but to any business plan you create to grow and improve your company.
Wendy Eichenbaum is a UX professional with 23 years in the business. She began her career as a technical writer. She then earned a Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Carnegie Mellon University, studying both writing and UI design. Over the years, she has worked across verticals, from start-ups to multi-national firms, in many areas of UX including research & strategy, Information Architecture, usability testing, and focus groups. She started her own UX consulting firm in 2008, Ucentric Design. And she is an adjunct professor at Cal State University, Fullerton. There she teaches a class that she created, User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.