Still Using Spreadsheets? Here’s a (Much) Better Way to Manage Utility Bills
The last time I entered an expense report on an Excel spreadsheet was probably 13 years ago. The last time I entered a purchase order on a paper form and walked it up to a procurement manager was… well, never. And earlier today when I needed to call one of our customers, I certainly didn’t reach for a paper Rolodex or even open my Outlook contacts. Instead, I launched our customer relationship management (CRM) software, typed in the customer’s name and could view his phone number and account history in one fell swoop (or click).
My point is that virtually every facet of modern business is supported by software tools designed to improve productivity, visibility, and transparency. Yet just last month, the global energy manager of a company that spends a billion dollars on energy every year – let me be clear, a billion dollars – explained to me how he gets energy information from hundreds of different facilities across 75 different countries sent to him in spreadsheets. My mind = blown. But not in a good way.
Managing energy data in spreadsheets seems so anachronistic to today’s high tech, cloud-based, software- for-everything world, yet for many it is the operating norm. For a company dedicated to building the world’s most robust energy intelligence software (EIS) platform, we are of course determined to change that, which is why last week, Enel X excitedly announced its agreement to acquire EnTech USB, the market leader in global utility bill management.
Utility bill management (UBM) is a critical component of any EIS solution for three reasons:
1. Better planning. If you’re going to be able to budget and forecast accurately, you simply need better visibility into your energy bills. Planning, budgeting, and forecasting based on a sea of unknowns is inefficient and ineffective.
2. Error reduction. Studies have shown that about 2% of energy bills have errors. In one of the most egregious errors we’ve seen, an energy manager at a company that owned a portfolio of commercial office properties realized he was still paying the electricity bills for a building he no longer owned only after deploying a UBM solution that provided key visibility. He was a smart, diligent guy, but with 100+ buildings under management and limited tools to shine a light on glaring errors, he had no way to know if he was being billed accurately. It simply got lost in the noise – costing him thousands of dollars a month.
3. Accurate measurement. At the end of the day, the best way to measure the impact of your energy management efforts is by looking at how much you spend on energy – and where it was spent. You can invest a lot in smarter energy management, in order to extend the life of expensive equipment, improve occupant comfort and safety, or ensure that investments you’ve made in the past continue to perform, but at the end of the day, the things that the person in the big corner office pays the most attention to are operating costs, margins, and dollars to the bottom line. Visibility into how much you’ve spent on energy and where, and an understanding of what’s driving those costs is critical to developing credibility with the C-suite.
EnTech helps enterprises do all of this and more. With its software platform deployed in more than 100 countries, EnTech serves up energy data not just in kWh and BTUs, but also in the language of CFOs and other C-level executives: dollars (or Yen, Euros, Pounds, Yuan, Reals, Rupees, etc.). The software integrates with other software solutions such as ERP and AP systems, making billing data accessible to key decision makers in finance, operations, and other core business functions. The company processes more than 1,000,000 bills annually and counts 8 of the Fortune 50 among its distinguished customer base.
Over the coming months, our team of engineers will get under the hood and begin the integration of EnTech’s software with our EIS platform. By adding Enel X’s real-time energy metering data collection and analytics capabilities with EnTech’s UBM software, energy users will have a truly powerful way to get the visibility they need to, as we like to say, get more from energy.