Three weeks into the new year and there’s no shortage of articles on resolutions. Here, here, here and here are just a few interesting ones, though most of these are geared toward personal improvement. I thought I’d focus this post on professional improvement, specifically on the topic of energy data management.
This area is all too often overlooked, even though data is the foundation of any successful energy strategy. Accurate, verified data is the compass and the map for your organization’s short- and long-term energy goals. So, with that in mind, our data experts helped me put together these strong recommendations on resolutions for better data management in 2015.
(1) Resolve to measure so you can manage. Better energy data management has to be intentional. Start by making it a priority in your organization. But, be disciplined in your measurement. Begin with the end in mind and only track mission-critical data that drives effective reporting and action. (More on this later.)
(2) Resolve to identify your unique sites and data streams.
Catalog each site and each energy source by site to better visualize where energy data originates. This is no simple task for organizations with hundreds (or thousands) of locations, but a centralized inventory of your energy data streams is absolutely critical.
(3) Resolve to determine your significant energy users and (4) monitor their performance.
Once you have a clear picture of the universe of your sites, home in on the heaviest users of energy. It’s particularly useful to use software that provides a macro view at your enterprise level and a micro view at your site level. The latter view should provide energy consumption detail by location, by time of use, by process and by personnel, etc., and allow you to build a plan to better manage consumption that ultimately results in reduced cost.
(5) Resolve to develop a process for collecting your data in a timely manner.
It’s absolutely critical to maintain and periodically calibrate physical meters and other data collection devices to ensure accurate measurements. Without timely, accurate, and verified data, sustainability measures, efficiency projects and other energy initiatives simply can’t be validated.
(6) Resolve to review all invoices for accuracy and (7) resolve billing errors.
Just as it’s important to check meters for accuracy, it’s equally important to audit utility invoices each month. Wide variability exists in pricing structures, geographies and supplier billing procedures – the factors that contribute to overall invoice accuracy. Adopting a rigorous review process and resolving errors with the providers will easily pay for itself over time.
(8) Resolve to standardize your utility invoice data.
Viewing data from all your sites in a single currency and in your preferred units of measure is both convenient and powerful, particularly for organizations with international sites.
(9) Resolve to eliminate late fees.
Late payment fees eat away at the integrity of your energy budget. Devising a clear payment process (either internal or third-party bill payment system) can be an easy way to save time, cost and resources.
(10) Resolve to benchmark and (11) index your data.
Comparing the energy consumption of your sites makes it easy to determine your highest and lowest performing facilities, and then develop a plan to implement best practices to improve the laggards. Additionally, indexing your data against your organization’s key performance indicators allows you to convert generic data into actionable information.
12) Resolve to digitize your data.
This can be time-intensive, but there are real benefits to converting paper invoices into a digital format. (Spreadsheets don’t count!) A web-based data platform can truly maximize the power of a centralized, dynamic data repository for greater analysis and stronger correlation of disparate data streams.
(13) Resolve to build reports and (14) share your data internally.
Using current and real-time data to generate energy reports is a great way to visually illustrate how resources are being converted and used in the context of cost and benefit. Consistently updating and distributing this kind of “living” data helps support and align internal stakeholders around your energy portfolio and performance.
15) Resolve to develop an energy education program.
With data in mind and reports in hand, enlighten your employees on the impact energy has on the business with an energy education program. Develop a team of Energy Champions to lead your energy cost and consumption reduction goals, and keep employees engaged on progress toward your energy KPIs.
Simply put, managing energy data better is one of the most effective ways to reduce your energy cost and usage. Accurate data can guide your organization in planning, acting upon and measuring its energy initiatives. It can also help align divisions within your organization – procurement, operations, finance, sales, marketing, human resources, etc. – around key priorities for the future. It will require effort, but these resolutions will be well worth it for 2015 and beyond.
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Read my previous posts here.