Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How Energy Managers Partner with the Front Office

If you are a successful energy manager, it’s probably because you harmonize your agenda with your organization’s core mission. In other words, you demonstrate how your efforts contribute to operating income, hours of availability, reliability of operations, or other key metrics that are important to your top management. Because of your communication skill, the front office understands how energy management reduces risk, time, and expense. In effect, they perceive you as a partner in their business success.

The following, which is drawn from Industrial Energy Management from the Top Down, suggests how an energy manager should approach partnering with his or her top management:

1. Define the partnership. Participants need to understand what they are committing to by pursuing energy management. Partners should understand how trade-offs among risk, time, and money are achieved to generate results.

2. Develop and speak a common language. Energy managers tend to be technical while top managers are increasingly non-technical. Translate your work into their language. If, for example, your operating margin is five percent, the dollar you save through energy management has the same impact on income as bringing in $20 of revenue.

3. Emphasize intersecting goals. Energy management goals won’t always match those of the core business. But there are opportunities to intersect your energy agenda with top management’s goals. Cash flow, plant reliability, product quality, carbon reduction—these and other management hot-button issues can be directly supported by energy management efforts.

4. Set expectations and achieve results. Your partnership with top management will put plans and milestones in place that define success and recognize the steps and resources needed to reach mutually beneficial goals.

True partnerships share risks and benefits. Those risks and benefits cannot be expressed without regular monitoring and verification of energy performance. This is why (and we’re saying it again) energy management is a process, and not simply a project. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. There is no finish line if there is no indication of a starting point.



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