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Navigating the Complexities of Billing: Challenges Faced by Public Fleet Administrators



In the realm of public fleet management, where efficiency, accountability, and cost-effectiveness are paramount, the process of billing internal departments for services is both a necessity and a challenge. While the need for such billing is evident, navigating the intricacies of the process can be fraught with complexities and friction . In this article, we examine why public fleet administrators need to bill internal departments for services, explore the methods they employ for billing, shed light on the problems and pain points they encounter along the way. Plus, we share some insights on how fleet administrators can simplify the billing process.


Why Public Fleet Administrators Should Bill Internal Departments for Services

Public fleet administrators serve as custodians of valuable resources, ensuring that vehicles and services are efficiently utilized to support the operations of internal departments. Billing internal departments for services is essential for several reasons, including:


  1. Cost Recovery: Fleet services, including vehicle maintenance, fueling, insurance, and administrative support, incur expenses. Billing internal departments allows fleet administrators to recover these costs, ensuring that the burden is shared appropriately among those who reap the benefits of the fleet.

  2. Transparency and Accountability: Billing internal departments promotes transparency and accountability in fleet management. Departments understand the costs associated with the services they receive, fostering a culture of responsibility and fiscal stewardship. And the fleet ensures that its consumption is generating real value to the organization.

  3. Financial Sustainability: Effective billing practices contribute to the financial sustainability of fleet operations. Revenue generated from departmental billing can be reinvested into fleet maintenance, upgrades, and enhancements, ensuring the longevity and reliability of fleet services.

Revenue generated from departmental billing can be reinvested into fleet maintenance, upgrades, and enhancements, ensuring the longevity and reliability of fleet services.

How Public Fleet Administrators Bill Departments for Services

Public fleet administrators employ various methods to bill internal departments for services, tailored to the unique needs and operational dynamics of their organizations. Fleet administrators must consider:


  1. Usage-Based Billing: Departments are billed based on the actual usage of fleet vehicles and services, such as mileage driven, hours of vehicle usage, or fuel consumption. This is easily understandable by a department manager, but does not directly account for overhead expenses, insurance, or depreciation, for example.

  2. Cost Allocation Methods: Direct and indirect costs are allocated to departments using methods such as activity-based costing, proportional allocation, or flat-rate allocation, depending on usage patterns and organizational priorities.

  3. Interdepartmental Billing Cycles: While the mechanics vary greatly from agency to agency, fleet administrators must go through a periodic accounting process to collect from their departmental customers. Some organizations bill departments monthly, quarterly, or even annually. 

Departments are billed based on the actual usage of fleet vehicles and services, such as mileage driven, hours of vehicle usage, or fuel consumption. This is easily understandable by a department manager, but does not directly account for overhead expenses, insurance, or depreciation, for example.

The Problems Fleet Administrators Encounter when Billing Departments for Services

Despite the importance of billing internal departments for services, public fleet administrators face several challenges in executing this task effectively:


  1. Complexity of Cost Allocation: Determining fair and accurate methods for cost allocation can be complex, particularly in organizations with diverse fleets and usage patterns. Seemingly no one is happy with broad-stroke allocations, while more equitable activity-based allocations are difficult to track.

  2. Data Accuracy and Transparency: Maintaining accurate records and ensuring transparency in billing processes can be challenging, leading to disputes and mistrust among departments. Manual usage tracking requires manual reporting, which leads to manual billing. Each manual step provides myriad opportunities for error. Even data-based processes often require multiple data sources, systems and formats to compile the right data.

  3. Billing Disputes: Disputes may arise over the accuracy or fairness of billing, requiring time and resources to resolve and potentially straining interdepartmental relationships.

  4. Billing Frequency: The frequency of billing may compound the issues with data accuracy. Particularly for organizations utilizing manual processes to track departmental billing, monthly or even less frequent reconciliations can magnify bookkeeping headaches related to spotty data and disputes of long-gone bookings.

  5. Administrative Burden: For all the reasons mentioned above, managing billing processes requires significant administrative effort, diverting resources from other critical tasks and hindering operational efficiency. While interdepartmental billing is essential for healthy fleets, the work required at month end makes you reconsider whether it’s worth all the trouble.


Disputes may arise over the accuracy or fairness of billing, requiring time and resources to resolve and potentially straining interdepartmental relationships

In summary, while billing internal departments for services is essential for the financial sustainability and accountability of public fleet operations, it presents significant challenges. Public fleet administrators must navigate complex cost allocation methodologies, ensure data accuracy and transparency, and address administrative burdens in order to execute successful billing processes.


But does billing have to be so painful?


At Launch Mobility, we don’t think billing should take you from your primary goal: providing safe, reliable mobility options that enable your users to do their best work. We’ve been working hard to address the many pain points associated with billing. 


That’s why we’re introducing our newest innovation: BillingEdge. Through pricing rules automation, efficient management across fleet mixes, and transparent, trackable, on-demand data, BillingEdge streamlines your billing process and allows you to get back to what matters most. Learn more at www.launchmobility.com/ascend 



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