Key Steps to Complying with ESOS

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme has already been launched. In fact, it is by now in its initial phase. However, many businesses are still not aware of the new scheme, especially those who are covered by the qualifications for ESOS. To help them understand what they need to do in compliance to the energy efficiency strategy, here are key steps they can follow along the way.

Measure Overall Energy Consumption

The first step to complying with ESOS is to make an initial estimate of the business? energy consumption. This includes measuring the use of electricity, renewable energy, combustible fuels and all other forms of energy consumed whether in buildings, transports and industrial processes.

Three important factors to consider are the measurement units used, the reference period and quality of data. Energy units, such as MWh and GJ, or energy expenditure costs should be applied. Business enterprises should also do the initial measurement within a reference period of 12 months. Moreover, data collected should be verifiable at hand.

Identify Areas of Significant Energy Consumption

When the total energy consumption for all the activities and assets has already been estimated, it’s then time to identify what areas in the organisation comprise the significant portion of the overall energy usage. The areas recognised should cover at least 90% of the overall consumption. Meaning to say, ESOS participants have the chance to omit 10% of the energy consumption and instead focus on the 90%. This would ensure that subsequent energy audits will be cost-effective and proportionate.

Consider and Choose Compliance Routes

In order to comply with ESOS, qualified businesses should consider what compliance routes to take. These routes include taking series of energy audits, operating and implementing a certified ISO 50001 energy management system, acquiring Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and working with Green Deal assessments. Whichever route the business takes, one should maintain credible evidences, along with helpful documents, to certify their compliance.

Report the Compliance

Except when the large enterprise covers all the significant areas of energy consumption by means of ISO 50001 certification, one should appoint a lead assessor to supervise, conduct and review the organisation’s chosen ESOS compliance route. In this case, the approved assessments should then be signed off at board level to ensure that the conclusions and recommendations for energy savings are properly carried. To confirm their compliance, the business should submit a formal notification to the Environment Agency.

Because ESOS is not just an opportunity but also an obligation, it designated compliance bodies and gave them the authority to file civil penalties towards those who fail to comply with the scheme. Not only that, these appropriate authorities have the right to publish information about non-compliant enterprises including their name, details of non-compliance and corresponding penalty amount. Among these UK compliance bodies are Natural Resources Wales, Environment Agency in England, The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

So, if you are covered with the ESOS qualifications, make sure to be informed. As the famous saying goes, ?Ignorance of the law excuses no one.? Likewise, awareness of ESOS is a responsibility every large business in UK should give importance to.

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A Definitive List of the Business Benefits of Cloud Computing ? Part 4

Lowers cost of analytics

Big data and business intelligence (BI) have become the bywords in the current global economy. As consumers today browse, buy, communicate, use their gadgets, and interact on social networks, they leave in their trail a whole lot of data that can serve as a goldmine of information organisations can glean from. With such information at the disposal of or easily obtainable by businesses, you can expect that big data solutions will be at the forefront of these organisations’ efforts to create value for the customer and gain advantage over competitors.

Research firm Gartner’s latest survey of CIOs which included 2,300 respondents from 44 countries revealed that the three top priority investments for 2012 to 2015 as rated by the CIOs surveyed are Analytics and Business Intelligence, Mobile Technologies, and Cloud Computing. In addition, Gartner predicts that about $232 million in IT spending until 2016 will be driven by big data. This is a clear indication that the intelligent use of data is going to be a defining factor in most organisations.

Yet while big data offers a lot of growth opportunities for enterprises, there remains a big question on the capability of businesses to leverage on the available data. Do they have the means to deploy the required storage, computing resources, and analytical software needed to capture value from the rapidly increasing torrent of data?

Without the appropriate analytics and BI tools, raw data will remain as it is – a potential source of valuable information but always unutilised. Only when they can take the time, complexity and expense out of processing huge datasets obtained from customers, employees, consumers in general, and sensor-embedded products can businesses hope to fully harness the power of information.

So where does the cloud fit into all these?

Access to analytics and BI solutions have all too often been limited to large corporations, and within these organisations, a few business analysts and key executives. But that could quickly become a thing of the past because the cloud can now provide exactly what big data analytics requires – the ability to draw on large amounts of data and massive computing power – at a fraction of the cost and complexity these resources once entailed.

At their end, cloud service providers already deal with the storage, hardware, software, networking and security requirements needed for BI, with the resources available on an on-demand, pay-as-you-go approach. In doing so, they make analytics and access to relevant information simplified, and therefore more ubiquitous in the long run.

As the amount of data continues to grow exponentially on a daily basis, sophisticated analytics will be a priority IT technology across all industries, with organisations scrambling to find impactful insights from big data. Cloud-based services ensure that both small and large companies can benefit from the significantly reduced costs of BI solutions as well as the quick delivery of information, allowing for precise and insightful analytics as close to real time as possible.

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7 Challenges Facing Mobile Field Service ? And Overcoming them with FSM Solutions

Managing a mobile workforce comes with its set of challenges. There are multiple coordination levels, administrative hurdles when distributing tasks amongst your employees, the need to meet your customers? expectations, whilst still operating profitably. Your goal is to rake in more revenue, while striking a balance between the number of employees and the quality of the service being rendered. Under utilisation of the company resources may be misinterpreted to mean that you need more employees- which will affect your bottom line. Repeat visits with older jobs affect the response time for new client appointments. Clients get frustrated when their needs are not met on time. Remember that, for your client, their priority is getting their issue sorted- be it that pipe leak, electrical fault, damaged gas valve, or window installation completed on time. Administrative challenges on your end will simply come off as excuses, costing your brand dearly. The different fields share similar challenges- from utility firms, pest control, installation and repair services such as with plumbers and electricians, those running residential and commercial window cleaning companies, to property managers in charge of different buildings. Here are some of the obstacles faced:

1. Coordinating your team

Running things from the office can get hectic when your technicians are out on ground, and clients are at different locations. From appointments being delayed because the workers met traffic on their way, those calling in sick and requiring you to find replacements on short notice, clients who cancel appointments without notice- they all present a logistical nightmare. There is also the need to have a skill-based task distribution in place. Here, the focus is on getting the right technician for the job, not someone who has simply “dealt with it before as they helped their colleagues on a similar job“. With your firm having different personnel, you want to ensure that you spend the most appropriate technician to your client. This also aids the employees themselves, by increasing their morale as they will be dealing with tasks that they are particularly adept at, score you a high first-time fix rate, and avoid having to do follow up visits to resolve issues that were not properly addressed the first time round. 

Capterra undertook a field service software survey, which showed that 82% of organisations adopting FSM solutions saw an increased rate of first-time fixes, and a 90% rise in actual conversations from quotes.

Capterra

How field service job management software impacts businesses. Source: Capterra

 Follow-ups tend to cost extra with the additional dispatch, and take away your fiend agents from the work that had been scheduled to be handled. Resolving these logistical issues with traditional approaches can be problematic, especially with all the paperwork involved. In fact, let’s delve into that.

2. Mounds of paperwork

Having loads of data streaming in from your field workforce can put one on edge. Organising the documents, creating the spreadsheets and typing away at calculators, sorting the files in cabinets and the stress that comes when a single file appears lost in the heaps of sheets – it creates a bottleneck for your operations.  Manually handling the data at the central office also compromises on the accuracy of the process due to human error, from syntax issues when transferring information, incorrect inputs, to duplicate errors- which is expected to occur with increased frequency due to the tiring nature of the process. Actually, 46% of the respondents surveyed by the Service Council said that paperwork and admin work was the worst part of their day.

The field worker is also affected by the paperwork. From having to come to the office each morning to collect the documents needed for the day, walking with the bulky files from one site to another, perusing through lots of sheets whenever they want mire information about a particular customer or the job description- and the frustration that comes when some documents have been forgotten back at the office- it hampers productivity. Running out of copies of paper will also be unavoidable when your staff are away from the office- and more time will be spent coming back to restock. There are also additional issues like the forms getting soiled or torn, and even the wind blowing them away as your technicians are out in the field.  Dealing with the contracts, collecting signatures for each job that is handled, jotting down notes concerning the particular tasks that they are taking care of- it increases the workload. In fact, this often results in errors in data entry, and jobs being poorly documented.

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case for your firm. Technological advancements have seen solutions being developed to minimise the paperwork involved. These mobile service management software allow the field worker to access all the details of the job via handy apps on their smartphones and tablets- as is the case with FieldElite. Instead of walking around with the documents and files, the information is stored via cloud, and is accessible in real-time. The job documentation- from photos, notes to the customer?s e-signature are all collected through the app, and the information is securely stored and immediately available to the personnel back at the head office. 

Service analytics- where you get to observe product demand, performance of your workforce and analyse your customer base growth through the dashboard reporting modules that come with the FMS software is a key tool for decision makers of the company. You get to optimise your performance without having to resort to adding more work hours, or pushing your employees into overtime. Field service analytics has been shown to increase profitability for leading companies by 18%, going by the ?Get Smart: Business Intelligence and Analytics for Service Organizations? study done by Aberdeen Group.

3. Scheduling conflicts

First, there are multiple jobs that need to be attended to- and disappointing your clients will lead to backlash. Secondly, you have a large team of workers- and you want to optimise on their productivity at an individual level. From an administrative perspective, you are also required to provide proper work structures that incorporate your employees? safety during the jobs being handled- and not to run them like mules, overworking them in a bid to hit your targets. Thirdly, the workers have different individual hours of operations- or they work in shifts. Running all this from a central point, allocating the jobs as needed and managing the different schedules, can be a tall order without the right field service scheduling software.

When your customers book an appointment, they expect that your company will deliver on its mandate, providing the services that they are paying you for as required. On the other hand, as the company, you are relying on your employees to meet those expectations. This means that you should have structures in place to ensure that your field workers stick to their assigned schedules. For this you will need to know their location in real-time, track their performance, and check on their adherence to the set schedules. Working with field service job management software allows you to handle the logistics of every task from one dashboard. By tracking your technicians while they are out in the field, you will be able to allocate orders faster, monitor the incoming customer requests, and manage the task distribution more efficiently. When you have an FSM that allows your workers to coordinate with the head office via mobile app, there will be an increased rate of job completion, and a reduction in overtime. Both your clients and employees get to be happy at the end of the day.

4. Lonely workers

Working in the office has its perks. You are surrounded by your colleagues, and can easily get the attention of anyone in management if needed. However, while out in the field, the workers can feel disconnected from the company structure, left to their devices while still bearing the responsibility of presenting the company in positive light- as they also double up as your brand ambassadors. The loneliness can get to them, with a report by the Service Council showing that isolation was the worst part of the work day for 21% of technicians. The chat feature that comes with the mobile service management software apps is one of the reasons behind their popularity, keeping the employees connected to the rest of the manager at the central office, and even other field employees- which makes them feel as part of one large family.

Safety is also a concern, especially for cases where your field staff will be working in hazardous situations – like conducting repairs on top of radio towers, dealing with gas equipment in concealed spaces. The central office needs to remain in constant communication with the workers, and have the appropriate structures in place to handle emergencies. You don’t want to lose employees because they don’t feel that their safety is a priority to you. A skilled technician is an asset that should be protected- and certainly you wouldn’t want to incur extra funds to hire and train personnel- which will end up being an additional strain to your budget over time. Field service job management software with features that allow your employees to check-in remotely via app will be handy in notifying the head office of their arrival at the job site, and in case of any incident, the field manager can quickly see the employees? last location, and dispatch help to them. 

5. Difficulty in assessing performance metrics

When you have a situation where timesheets are only handed in after the workday- and in some cases at the end of the week, it becomes difficult to assess the level of productivity of your field workers. Are you getting value for your money with the wages that are being paid out? Are there lots of lost work hours due to logistical hitches- or cases where the field worker delay the tasks, or take out sections of their day to attend to matters of personal interest- and still bill you for it? All this translates to poor customer service, with issues ranging from cancelled and rescheduled appointments, unmet targets, disagreements based on the scope of work being handled, to client dissatisfaction for not having their issues addressed in a timely manner- which becomes a hit on your brand.

FSM comes in to enable the field service manager to always be in the loop during the entire process- knowing exactly how long the workers are spending on each particular task, the jobs that are pending, cancelled or rescheduled, in order to constantly review and optimise the planning of the firm?s activities. With software like FieldElite, you even get a birds-eye view, as the work areas are mapped out, that way you will be in a position to direct your field workers on aspects like the best routes to take to avoid traffic gridlocks.

6. The break factor

How do you plan for breaks? Jobs are different, and there will be unexpected issues cropping up regularly. However, the field worker is still entitled to breaks during the working day- such as the all-important lunchtime. The problem arises when there is unextended time on some job sites, and cases of unscheduled breaks being taken. These have a ripple effect, as they will cause delays on other projects that are on queue, and you can also expect customer complaints to be coming in hot and hard. From a management point of view, you want to have the ability to respond to the issues as they arise, and reassign the jobs accordingly. Mobile service management software gives you this power.

7. Customer relationship management

Customers want to be part of the process, staying in the loop with the service appointments that have been scheduled- and understandably so. From the booking process, to following up on the progress of the job- it all factors in. In case there are issues that crop up- like service vehicles being delayed, situations where extra parts need to be ordered, or the session cancelled and scheduled on a different day- being fully transparent with your customers will be a great boost to your brand. Gaining new clients and retaining the current ones requires the firm to maintain a quality customer service.

Negative feedback because of your customers? feeling neglected will be a setback for your business. Integrating the customer relationship management into the field service will go a long way in enhancing their experience. Here, software solutions like FieldElite have also got you covered with a customer self-serve portal, accessible online through their browsers. This has the welcome benefit of reducing the number of calls as they conduct follow-ups, since they will be in a position to track the project right from the comfort of their homes and office desks, thus increasing customer satisfaction.

Big Energy Data Management

Recent times have seen the advent of cloud based services and solutions where energy data is being stored in the cloud and being accessed from anywhere, anytime through remote mobile devices. This has been made possible by web-based systems that can usually bring real-time meter-data into clear view allowing for proactive business and facility management decisions. Some web based systems may even support multi utility metering points and come in handy for businesses operating multiple sites.

Whereas all this has been made possible by increased use of smart devices/ intelligent energy devices that capture data at more regular intervals; the challenge facing businesses is how to transform the large data/big volume of data into insights and action plans that would translate into increased performance in terms of increased energy efficiency or power reliability.

A solution to this dilemma facing businesses that do not know how to process big energy data, may lie in energy management software. Energy management software?s have the capability to analyse energy consumption for, electricity, gas, water, heat, renewables and oil. They enable users to track consumption for different sources so that consumers are able to identify areas of inefficiency and where they can reduce energy consumption, Energy software also helps in analytics and reporting. The analytics and reporting features that come with energy software are usually able to:

? Generate charts and graphs ? some software?s give you an option to select from different graphs

? Do graphical comparisons e.g. generate graphs of the seasonal average for the same season and day type

? Generate reports that are highly customisable

While choosing from the wide range of software available, it is important for businesses to consider software that has the capacity to support their data volume, software that can support the frequency with which their data is captured and support the data accuracy or reliability.

Energy software alone may not make the magic happen. Businesses may need to invest in trained human resources in order to realise the best value from their big energy data. Experts in energy management would then apply human expertise to leverage the data and analyse it with proficiency to make it meaningful to one?s business.

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