In the resource planning battlefield of your company, getting your Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to grasp the value of energy management is no easy job. When presented as an investment towards reducing costs, the most common answer is that of “maybe some other time” or “there are other priorities right now”. There will always be other projects, competing for priority and financing. Shedding light on the importance energy management really has, is a matter of understanding and presenting the successive benefits that come from it.
As an energy or facility manager you might understand just how beneficial energy efficiency actions are both for your company’s bottom-line and its corporate image. Your CFO, on the other hand, may consider energy costs as fixed costs and simply assume there’s not much to do about them. What the finance department may not be taking into account is the fact that energy prices are increasing and if not controlled, energy consumption won’t be getting any lower. Moreover, they might not be aware of regulations limiting carbon emissions that if neglected could result in not so trivial penalties.
According to the 2014 Aberdeen Group report “Driving Operational Insights through Enterprise Energy Intelligence” the most common challenges when justifying energy management initiatives are:
- Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) of the initiative;
- Competing with other projects for resources;
- Getting operational-level employees to support the project;
- Getting approval from senior management.
We have prepared this guide to help you overcome these challenges and convince your CFO on board.
1. Visibility is your greatest weapon
Energy improvements are already complex enough. But without a proper monitoring tool it’s even harder to see results. When undertaking energy efficiency projects, you will find it really useful to have the appropriate instruments to monitor your progress along the way. Energy Management software allows you to visualise your energy data in real time as well as measure and verify results from improvements. This will empower you greatly when meeting with your CFO since you will be able to showcase your results and translate energy savings into financial savings. DEXMA’s software, DEXCell Energy Manager, allows you to normalise variables that affect consumption, get a clear view of your energy data on its customisable dashboards and receive automatic reports, among many more resources. Being equipped with such a powerful tool to back up your energy efficiency measures will give you an advantage over other colleagues’ projects aiming for a piece of that budget.
2. “Show me the money!” – Let the numbers captivate
Getting your message through to your CFO implies more than reasoning. He or she will only start listening as soon as you mention numbers and ratios. Calculating the ROI is not only the starting point but the most critical part of the negotiation. It must ideally be lower than 2 years or, even better, lower than one. This is important for your proposal to remain attractive and top the list of feasible projects. You might want to start off with small energy efficiency projects to guarantee this short period return. This way you’ll be able to open your CFO’s eyes to the great outcomes from measures of this kind. Once you have got your CFO’s attention, you can increase the scope of your projects.
It is important to make your CFO realise energy management is an actual investment and not a cost in itself. As Henry Ford put it,
“If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it, but don’t have it”.
The same goes for energy efficiency. If you don’t start taking measures to cut energy waste, in the long run you’ll find you paid for energy management and you’ll still be wasting energy and money.
3. Appeal to emotions
Energy management is not only about financial savings. Once your CFO is actually listening, make the case that it entails many more benefits for the entire organisation. Hard facts with meaningful implications will have a greater impact on your CFO. Letting him or her know the chain of rewards that arise from efficiency measures will enhance your message.
Emphasise that procuring energy efficiency helps improve the productivity of operations, reduce carbon emissions and gain competitiveness. Gaining differentiation in the market being the ultimate result of these sustainability efforts. Let them know how much those cost reducing actions will actually help the environment. Make them realise as well, how reducing energy waste will help your corporate image. In short, give them more reasons to believe in your project.
4. Give out periodic reports
Besides wanting to know how long it’s going to take to recover the investment, the CFO will want to see energy savings quantified and represented in monetary terms. He will probably ask for periodical reports on the improvements made and the savings achieved. Discover the personalised reports offered by DEXMA. With these, you’ll be able to deliver results in a convenient and easy to understand format.
5. Need some backup? Convince your CFO with some successful cases
Get examples from other companies in your sector and show your CFO how they have succeeded in implementing energy management measures. Briefly explain what their case was and present the actions they took along with the savings they achieved and their payback period. This will give them a notion of some of the great outcomes they will witness after they give their decisive YES!