EU Energy Efficiency Directive & UK?s ESOS

In 2012 the European Union passed its EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) into law. This aims to reduce overall energy consumption by 20% by 2020. It placed an obligation on member states to pass back-to-back local legislation by June 2014.

EED Guidelines

The EED provides specific guidelines it expects member nations to address. The list is long and here are a few excerpts from it:

  • Large companies must use energy audits to identify ways to cut their energy consumption
  • Small and medium companies must be incentivised to voluntarily take similar steps
  • Public sector bodies must purchase energy-efficient buildings, products and services
  • Private energy-consumers must be empowered with information to help manage demand
  • Energy distributors / resellers must cut their own consumption by 1.5% annually
  • Legislators are free to substitute green building technology e.g. through better insulation
  • Every year, European governments must audit 3% of the buildings they own

Definition of Energy Audit

An energy-consumption audit is a question of measuring demand throughout a supply grid, with particular attention to individual modules and high demand equipment. While this could be an exercise repeated every four years to satisfy ESOS, it makes more sense to incorporate it into the monthly energy billing cycle.

Because energy use is not consistent but varies according to production cycle, this can produce reams of printouts designed to frustrate busy managers. ecoVaro offers an inexpensive, cloud-based analytic service that effortlessly accepts client data and returns it in the form of high-level graphic summaries.

Potential ESOS Beneficiaries

As many as 9,000 UK companies are obligated to do energy audits because they employ more than 250 employees, have a balance sheet total over ?36.5m or an annual turnover in excess of ?42m. Any smaller enterprise that finds energy a significant input cost, should also consider enlisting Ecovaro to help it to:

  • Obtain a better understanding of the energy side of their business
  • Achieve energy savings and share in a estimated ?3bn bonanza to 2030
  • Reduce carbon emissions to help meet their CRC commitments

More About ecoVaro

We offer web-based energy management software that helps you measure and manage energy costs. This strips data from your meters and generates personalised reports on a dashboard you control. This information helps you accurately zoom in on worthwhile opportunities. With Ecovaro on your side, ESOS truly becomes an Energy Saving OPPORTUNITY Scheme.

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Matrix Management: Benefits and Pitfalls

Matrix management brings together managers and employees from different departments to collaborate with each other towards the accomplishment of the organizational goals. As much as it is beneficial, matrix management also has limitations. Hence, companies should understand its benefits and pitfalls before implementing this management technique.

Benefits

The following are some of the advantages of matrix management:

Effective Communication of Information

Because of the hybrid nature of the matrix structure, it enables different departments to closely work together and communicate frequently in order to solve project issues. This leads to a proficient information exchange among leaders and subordinates. Consequently, it results to developed strategies, enhanced performance and quick productivity.

Efficient Use of Resources

Resources can be used efficiently in the organisation since it can be shared among functions and projects. As the communication line is more open, the valuable knowledge and highly skilled resources are easily distributed within the organisation.

Increased Motivation

The matrix structure promotes democracy. And with the employees working on a team, they are motivated to perform their duties better. The opinions and expertise of the employees are brought to the table and considered by the managers before they make decisions. This leads to employee satisfaction, empowerment and improved performance.

Flexibility

Since the employees communicate with each other more frequently, decision making becomes speedy and response is adaptive. They can easily adjust with diverse situations that the company encounters.

Skills Development

Matrix employees are pooled out for work assignments, even to projects that are not necessarily in line with their skill background. With this approach to management, employees have the chance to widen their skills and expertise.

Discipline Retention

One significant advantage of matrix management is that it enables the employees to maintain their skills in functional areas while working with multidisciplinary projects. Once the project is completed and the team wraps up, the members remain sharp in their discipline technically and return to their home functions.

Pitfalls

Here are some disadvantages of matrix management:

Power Struggle

In the matrix structure, there is always tension between the functional and project manager. Although their intent is polite, their conflicting demands and competition for control over the same resources make it more difficult.

Internal Complexity

Having more than one manager, the employees might become confused to who their immediate leader is. The dual authority can lead to internal complexity and possible communication problems. Worst, employee dissatisfaction and high employee turnover.

Heightened Conflict

In any given situation where people and resources are shared across projects, there would always be competition and conflict. When these issues are prolonged, conflicts will heightened and will lead to more internal problems.

Increased Stress

For the employees, being part of a matrix structure can be stressful. Their commitment is divided among the projects and their relationship with multiple managers requires various adjustments. Increased stress can negatively affect their performance in the long run.

Excessive Overhead Expenses

Overhead administrative costs, such as salaries, increase in a matrix structure. More expenses, more burden to the organisation. This is a challenge to matrix management that leaders should consider carefully.

These are just some of the advantages and disadvantages of matrix management. The list could go on, depending on the unique circumstances that organisations have. The key is that when you decide to implement matrix management, you should recognise how to take full advantage of its benefits and understand how to lessen, if not eradicate, the pitfalls of this approach to management.

8 Reasons why you Need to Undertake Technical and Application Assessments

Are your information assets enabling you to operate more cost-effectively or are they just drawing in more risks than you are actually aware of? Obviously, you now need to get a better picture of those assets to see if your IT investments are giving you the benefits you were expecting and to help you identify areas where improvements should be made.

The best way to get the answers to those questions is through technical and application assessments. In this post, we?ll identify 8 good reasons why it is now imperative to undertake such assessments.

1. Address known issues – Perhaps the most common reason that drives companies to undertake a technology/application assessment is to identify the causes of existing issues such as those related to data accessibility, hardware and software scalability, and performance.

2. Cut down liabilities and risks – Unless you know what and where the risks are, there is no way you can implement an appropriate risk mitigation strategy. A technology and application assessment will enable you to thoroughly test and examine your information systems to see where your business-critical areas and points of failure are and subsequently allow you to act on them.

3. Discover emerging risks – Some risks may not yet be as threatening as others. But it would certainly be reassuring to be aware if any exist. That way, you can either nip them in the bud or keep them monitored.

4. Comply with regulations – Regulations like SOX require you to establish adequate internal controls to achieve compliance. Other regulations call for the protection of personally identifiable information. Assessments will help you pinpoint processes that lack controls, identify data that need protection, and areas that don’t meet regulatory requirements. This will enable you to act accordingly and keep your company away from tedious, time-consuming and costly sanctions.

5. Enhance performance – Poor performance is not always caused by an ageing hardware or an overloaded infrastructure. Sometimes, the culprits are: unsuitable configuration settings, inappropriate security policies, or misplaced business logic. A well-executed assessment can provide enough information that would lead to a more cost-effective action plan and help you avoid an expensive but useless purchase.

6. Improve interoperability – Disparate technologies working completely separate from each other may be preventing you from realising the maximum potential of your entire IT ecosystem. If you can examine your IT systems, you may be able to discover ways to make them interoperate and in turn harness untapped capabilities of already existing assets.

7. Ensure alignment of IT with business goals – An important factor in achieving IT governance is the proper alignment of IT with business goals. IT processes need to be assessed regularly to ensure that this alignment continues to exist. If it does not, then necessary adjustments can be made.

8. Provide assurance to customers and investors – Escalating cases of data breaches and identity theft are making customers and investors more conscious with a company?s capability of preserving the confidentiality of sensitive information. By conducting regular assessments, you can show your customers and investors concrete steps for keeping sensitive information confidential.

Computer Forensics

So you had a customer data security breach last weekend? Do you know you could be held liable in court for failing to implement required security procedures? That’s right. Due to the overwhelming surge in identity theft wherein nearly 20 million Americans have already been affected, most states have enacted laws to curtail this fast rising crime. Therefore, it is important to redefine how your company deals with customer data security.

  • First, you’ll want to know what your obligations are as dictated by law. Some places, for example, require the destruction or deletion of personal data through shredding, erasing, or by rendering them undecipherable.
  • Second, not only do you need to comply with the said requirements, you’ll also have to prove in court that you actually complied if ever a security breach does happen.
  • Third, you need to be aware of your post-breach duties to avoid being dealt additional penalties.

Obviously, such situations now call for individuals who are experts in both the legal and technical aspects regarding data security. Such individuals are practitioners of a relatively new discipline known as computer forensics.

Armed with our computer forensics specialists, we’ll be able to help you deal with the above concerns. As a result, you can be prevented from having to pay fines that can go up to hundreds of thousands of euros.

There are other equally important reasons why you would want to avail of computer forensics services. For example, you’ll need computer forensics specialists because you want to:

  • Catch a person involved in criminal activities such as child porn, stealing of personal data, and destroying intellectual property.
  • Investigate a computer, network, or even a mobile device for clues that may lead to the culprit.
  • Determine the extent and possible causes when you discover your digital data has been damaged.
  • Find and recover damaged, deleted or encrypted data regardless of whether the cause was intentional or not. If the data in question will be used as evidence in a legal action, there are certain procedures that need to be followed during recovery operations to retain the integrity of the data. Computer forensic specialists are highly qualified for such operations.
  • Implement security policies in your organisation. Such policies have to operate within legal bounds if you want to avoid possible sanctions in the future. These policies should also be designed such that future forensic operations can be conducted with a high likelihood of success.

That said, a company that integrates computer forensics into its IT security policies and practices will be better equipped to remedy the situation once data security has already been compromised than a company that doesn’t.

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