Take back your time: Getting out of a utility data rut

You’ve probably heard this one before: why did the engineer cross the road? Because he looked in the project file and that’s the way they did it last time.

It’s funny because it gets at a central truth: people are creatures of habit. We tend do what we’ve always done, even if it’s inefficient, time consuming and wasteful. We are all so busy doing whatever it is that we do, that we rarely take time to think about why we do it that way, especially when it comes to routine, repetitive tasks like collecting and aggregating monthly utility data.

So, if you and your team are stuck in monthly utility data rut, using an inefficient legacy system (spreadsheets, anyone?) that should have been scrapped years ago, here are two key questions you should stop and ask yourself:

Who does your monthly data collection and why?

Your engineers and analysts are there to create solutions, not to run around looking for last month’s bills. Stop and ask yourself, why are they trying to manage data in the first place? If you’re not sure why or the answer is simply, “because we’ve always done it that way,” you’re probably wasting resources that could be better allocated elsewhere.

What is your true cost of monthly data collection and aggregation?

Even at its simplest, a building’s monthly utility bills may come from several different sources on several different days throughout the month. The goal is analysis. But before you can crunch the numbers, you need to gather the bills, some of which may exist only in paper form in a random filing cabinet somewhere in the maze of accounts payable. It can take days or even weeks to track down every last bill and you haven’t even gotten started. If you use high value engineering and analyst resources to perform what amounts to admin-level tasks like collecting and compiling your customers’ utility data, you’re flat-out wasting money.

Stopping the cycle

On the surface, it might seem like collecting and entering utility data in-house is quick and cost-effective. The same sets of eyeballs that crunch the numbers are also collecting—and seeing—the data in the first place. Streamlined and efficient, right? Well, not exactly.

Entering data in-house can add weeks or even months to the reporting and decision-making cycle. What’s worse, every utility speaks its own language. And without the proper audit and validation processes in place, it’s incredibly easy to make simple miscalculations and costly mistakes.

So what’s the solution? Stop. Don’t just do what you’ve always done. Consider a different method.

Instead of using your engineering, sales or other high-value staff to manually collect, aggregate, normalize and enter utility data for buildings that you maintain and service, consider a services solution that can do the heavy lifting. That way, you and your clients can focus on using utility data to make smarter, more impactful decisions while eliminating hidden costs and administrative burden.

 

Read our free whitepaper to learn more about the internal costs of managing data in-house and how to overcome these obstacles. Download Now: Top 5 Hidden Costs of “Do-It-Yourself” Data Entry.

 

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