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Should Energy Management Software Be a Part of Corporate Enterprise Resource Planning Systems?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are typically used to capture data related to accounting, asset life cycle management, corporate performance and resource planning, HR, inventory management, manufacturing, marketing and relationship management. Enterprise energy management software has a much smaller scope focusing on data captured from corporate energy consumption, maintenance programmes, energy efficiency project management and the associated costs and savings. It is typically implemented as a standalone solution, with minimal integration with corporate ERPs systems. Recent Verdantix research into the future of energy management software brought up the question of whether this always needs to be the case?

Historically, users of energy management software platforms have focused on getting their data correct. While capturing valid data is still a concern for energy managers, their battle has started to shift towards identifying opportunities to maximize the value of the data they’ve collected. This is where analytics for initiatives such as predictive maintenance strategies come into play. Often, extending beyond the basic monitoring of energy use will require access to accounting, HR, manufacturing and resource planning data – all found in ERP systems – to identify the appropriate energy and operational efficiency opportunities. This builds a strong argument for including energy management software as an ERP module.

Including energy management software as a module within an ERP system will more easily enable software users to understand the relationship between energy consumption, optimum building schedules, building utilization, maintenance team performance, equipment downtime, manufacturing productivity and the associated cost and revenue implications. Energy management software, when integrated with corporate accounting and resource planning systems can also make the CAPEX and OPEX budgeting process easier by enabling a closer link between forecasted efficiency project spend and actual spend across an enterprise. This is achieved through cost savings verification tools provided with some energy management software modules.

Energy management software firms have begun to pay closer attention to the data available in corporate ERP systems. For example, DEXMA provides an Open API for ERP software providers to connect directly with its DEXCell Energy Manager platform. Previously, integration between DEXCell and SAP ERP software was accomplished through a system integrator. Australia-based Envizi and UK-based eSight Energy both provide integration with corporate ERP systems from SAP and PeopleSoft.

As the focus of energy management in buildings shifts towards facility optimization management which relies on managing energy as part of a broader view of building operations, the data held within ERP systems will provide additional value.