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Is Your Utility Data Collection Process Outdated?
7 Questions to Ask

From Environmental Leader, Published 26 August 2014

Does your energy management process bring about thoughts of efficiency, reliability and automation, or are you concerned this process is manual, outdated and a big risk to your company?

Organizations around the world are facing pressure from their customers, regulators, and economics to improve sustainability performance. These pressures are driving them to completely reexamine their energy management processes that include the collection of energy data from hundreds of disparate utilities—the data they rely on to make major energy decisions.

During these examinations, many organizations have realized that their energy data collection processes are manual, inefficient, and outdated which impedes their ability to identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption, costs, and carbon emissions. Are your energy data collection processes outdated?

Here are seven ways to know if your company’s utility data collection processes are outdated:

  • 1. Manual — do you use the word “manual” when describing your energy data collection process? Manual data collection is prone to human error that results in frequent mistakes that can be very costly.
  • 2. Delay — do you wait 30-60 days to access your utility bill data? Long delays make it impossible for energy and facility managers to react and make real-time decisions.
  • 3. Incomplete — are you only collecting the “must have” data from your utility bills and leaving behind a significant amount of valuable data? If so, why?
  • 4. Lack of Expertise — do your data entry specialists lack the domain expertise needed to compare and understand hundreds of disparate tariffs, semantics, and rate schedules? If so, errors and inaccuracies in your bill data is likely going unnoticed.
  • 5. Exposed — does your lack of data make you feel exposed to risk or missed opportunities?
  • 6. Data Inconsistencies — are the billing dates for your various utilities synchronized on the first or last day of the month? If not, are you using comparable year-over-year frameworks to ensure accurate forecasting? Failure to account for all the days in an invoice period can lead to almost a 3% reporting error.
  • 7. Lack of Standardization — is the data you’re collecting from your disparate utilities in different formats? Do you manually aggregate and normalize your data? How is this working out for you?

A new energy management trend is quickly emerging where leading multi-facility brands, energy software vendors, and energy service providers are replacing their outdated energy data collection processes with big energy data services. These new services automate the collection and normalization of data from your utilities and deliver high-quality, reliable and timely data directly to your energy management, accounting, procurement and facility management systems.

Please refer to the following links for additional reading regarding utility data management:

Utility Management Secrets to Success!
Are Bill Payment Services a Part of Your Utility Management Plan?
The General Plan: Time for a “Surgical” Intervention?