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Cloud-based Electronic Platform to manage Technical Reference Manuals

February 24, 2021

Cloud-based Electronic Platform to manage Technical Reference Manuals
Several research studies have reviewed, compared, and analysed Technical Reference Manuals (TRMs) to identify the best practices followed by leading jurisdictions in the U.S. In the California Technical Forum’s (Cal TF) paper on “Technical Reference Manuals Best Practices from Across the Nation to Inform the Creation of the California Electronic Technical Reference Manual (eTRM)” [1], some findings revealed that most successful jurisdictions across the U.S. follow similar key practices in developing the TRM. Cal TF’s engineering and policy staff have reviewed over 20 TRMs, and with findings from their primary research, they have categorized the TRM best practices into three key components - Process, Structure, and Content.

Implementing the Best Practices in Technical Reference Manuals – Role of an electronic TRM Solution
Applying the best practices during the development of TRM’s such as updates and maintenance of measures should be consistent and uncompromised. The way to achieve this is through a software system that provides a platform to develop TRM’s and enforces best practices. It is important to note that certain best practices, such as the definition of “Best Available Data” for measure parameter values and approaches for deriving measures savings, rely entirely on analysis and decision making of those who develop the TRM, and the system cannot have control over such implementations. For a software system to qualify as the platform for developing the TRM, the offered functionalities must be in-line with the three critical components as aforementioned. Also, there should be no room for inconsistencies unless the eTRM software cannot control them.

Process

The development of energy efficiency values requires a process that promotes and establishes the collaboration of qualified technical representatives from different organizations. This collaboration envisages achieving well-understood and widely accepted values, methods, assumptions, and data. So, the software system should have a:

  • Platform where qualified technical representatives can participate in measure development.
  • Role-based access control mechanism to define clear roles and responsibilities for development and maintenance of TRM and management of the collaborative work.
  • Methodology to define configurable workflows to carve out the process for TRM development and map the defined roles at each stages of the specified process.
  • Versioning control and management to handle the regular update processes on measures and their key parameters.

Structure
TRM structure (organization of measures, measure parameters, and source materials) is essential for its usability, credibility, quality, accuracy, and preventing systemic bias [1]. To accomplish these requirements, the data structure of the software system should allow

  • Configurable structure to define a standard format on how measures in TRM should be characterized and organized. It should cover a narrative measure description, baseline and measure case technical specifications, energy demand savings algorithms, clearly stated assumptions, other key parameters (such as the measure life and cost), and any pertinent program implementation details (i.e., qualification requirements and exclusions) [1].
  • Localization of the measure parameters and their data sources to promote and provide transparency, and ease of accessibility to all industry stakeholders, including advocates and regulators.
  • Definition of standard values, lookups, and calculations that multiple measures can use.
  • Construction of validations and control over measure parameter values to promote quality assurance and quality control process.
  • Generation of measure permutations to identify the most impactful parameters, which would nudge the resources in the right direction of prioritizing refinement of the found parameters.

Content
Ensuring the implementation of best practices categorized under this component relies exclusively on the careful consideration, diligence, decisions, and methods applied by those who develop TRM. Leading jurisdictions have written guidelines that are vital in ensuring consistent measure development. But the decision to follow standard guidelines is highly dependent on individuals. However, the software system should at least

  • Have written guidelines stored within the platform and should be readily available for reference at all the stages of TRM development.
  • Provide an effective communication mechanism between individuals using the solution to ensure clarity over development guidelines and exercise control over measure development.

Electronic Technical Reference Manual (eTRM) – A Digital Approach
After extensive analysis of TRM best practices presented in several studies, ANB Systems, Inc. has designed its eTRM solution to enforce these essential practices during measure development.

Principal Features of the Electronic Technical Reference Manual Solution
Now, let us look at our Electronic Technical Reference Manual solution's principal features that encompass the above-mentioned best practices while developing eTRMs.

eTRM – Configurable Workflow
Configurable Workflows (built using Business Process Model and Notation) and versioning capabilities in eTRM solution help streamline the collaborative process in TRM development and keep track of regular updates on measures and parameters.

With the help of eTRM's Access Control System, one can achieve a clear definition of individual roles and responsibilities.

eTRM – Configurable Measure Templates
In terms of TRM Structure, the platform has a mechanism to create Configurable Templates that define how to measure information must be structured and housed. The platform's design also ensures localization of the measure parameters and their data within the measure and, therefore, provides transparency and ease of accessibility to various stakeholders.

eTRM – Measure Permutation Testing
For analysis and testing of measure savings, the Permutation Testing feature in eTRM helps pinpoint the most impactful parameters of measures.

eTRM – API-Based Integration with Energy Efficiency Applications
Any third-party energy efficiency application that deals with measure analysis and savings can utilize or integrate the services of eTRM within their solution through the host of API Services offered by eTRM.

eTRM – Print Measures
The Print Option in eTRM provides the documented version of how measures are structured and configured in eTRM.

eTRM is developed to diligently implement and follow the TRM Best Practices, aiming at offering a comprehensive solution for any jurisdiction. The tool is designed to empower utilities to set and achieve ambitious energy efficiency goals.

ANB Systems – Our Solution Suite for Automating Energy Efficiency Workflows
ANB Systems is a leading software provider for the energy industry. Established in 1997, we build and customize state-of-the-art software solutions for demand-side management operations, renewable energy, and retail energy services. Our solution suite consisting of eTRACK+, eTRM, DRM, ePLAN, and ZAPconnect , help utilities streamline and automate all their energy efficiency programs, namely

  • Facility Assessments
  • DER Interconnections
  • Rebate Applications
  • Permit Tracking
  • Pole Attachment Tracking
  • Serve New Customer Tracking
  • Construction Projects Tracking

And much more.

At ANB, we empower our clients to become data-savvy and realize operational efficiencies by implementing these solutions.

Schedule A Demo with our Solution Specialists
To learn more about our solution suite in terms of how it can help expedite energy efficiency programs, contact our experts by writing to  info@anbsystems.com, and our solution specialists will provide a one-on-one demo at your convenient schedule.

Written by - Jigme Dhonyou
Jigme Dhonyou is an Lead Business Analyst at ANB Systems. Jigme has over 2 years of experience in functional designs of products eTRM and eTRACK+ and nearly 2 years of experience in overseeing support and functional enhancements for Retail Electric Provider (REP) operation system.

References
[1] A. Beitel, T. Melloch, B. Harley and A. Mejia, “Technical Reference Manuals Best Practices from Across the Nation to Inform the Creation of the California Electronic Technical Reference Manual (eTRM) “2016. [Online] - https://aceee.org/files/proceedings/2016/data/papers/6_1027.pdf.