Selecting the Right ERP to Light up your Solar Business

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As a person who is a little tech crazy and environmentally focused, I have been following the sustained growth of the renewable energy sector over the past few years. The continued rise in the cost of traditional forms of energy production, combined with the various government-supported rebate schemes are ensuring that this growth is sustained. 

As the industry matures and demand continues to surge, solar supply and installation services are seeing rapid growth and many smaller players are either dropping out or becoming more business savvy and organised to combat the threat of new businesses entering the industry. However, in a booming industry with more and more players emerging each day it is not always easy to remain competitive. 

Therefore, it is inevitable that to reduce administrative overheads, enhance sales and to grow your brand for the long run, you need to be as productive as possible and getting your processes right is only half of the battle.

Using technology to remain competitive

I am seeing the gaps in the market and am excited about how a dedicated ERP solution could be designed to cater to the unique and ever-evolving need of this industry.

With my background and expertise in IT and ERP solutions, the mind naturally starts ticking over about how I can marry two of my passions and assist the many industry-related stakeholders that have started up their own businesses 

I have met some great people who started off as electricians and plumbers and are now running well managed and profitable retail and supplier businesses in the solar sector.

My interest has been amplified through my role as Director of Sales, Odoo at WilldooIT, a member of the PNORS Technology Group. Our recent experience finds us working in the ever-expanding solar installation sector. During this time, we have gained valuable insights into the types of current business software being used, their limitations, and how they are holding back business growth. 

Odoo image and text block

This is how I see the state of the industry and how it could benefit from a tailor-made business management system, but before you chose this system, it is essential to understand where your current and future states begin and end. 

 The state of the solar industry and how the right software can facilitate growth

Current state: 

Disparate and non-integrated business management systems  

Odoo image and text block

As the industry matures from what started out as small solar installation businesses employing 2-5 staff, we now see staff numbers upwards of 50 people. Companies start by using software suitable for small businesses such as MYOB, or more recently XERO.

Whilst these products will adequately handle the financial reporting and invoice control, their limitation soon becomes apparent as a company grows and several 3rd party applications or even spreadsheets start being used to fill the functional gaps. Typical symptoms of ad-hoc use of technologies in a growing company include:

  • Overuse of spreadsheets for critical business functions

  • Use of several non-integrated 3rd party applications to fulfil requirement gaps

  • Reliance on key people who hold “special” knowledge in their heads

  • Any expansion in the business requires a proportional increase in staff

  • Difficulty managing stock across several locations 

Future state: 

Tailored business management solution, specifically designed for the renewables industry

The solar industry, in particular, has special requirements especially when it comes to accounting for solar rebates both in the quotation process and their strict financial requirements. So any system designed for the solar industry must incorporate these. Additionally, the unique regulatory requirements must be taken into account to make compliance less burdensome. Once the unique requirements have been met, the system should then include complete and seamless integration from initial customer contact through quotation, project management, job costing, invoicing and financial control.

I see the implementation of a business management system tailored to the requirements of the renewables industry will result in cost savings, a platform for growth and offer many efficiencies:

Odoo image and text block
  • Manage the customer experience from initial enquiry through quoting, installation and followup

  • Auto calculation of STC’s & LGC’s during quotation

  • Complete financial management of STC and LGC’s from purchase to sale

  • Reducing unnecessary double handling of data

  • Stock management control across multiple warehouses and locations

  • Tight cost control of installation projects from design through to installation and support

  • Removal of spreadsheets to record critical management information 

  • Reduce regulatory compliance overheads

  • Fully integrate a CRM for lead and opportunity tracking

  • Complete job-costing and project management facilities

  • Customer portals for invoice payment and project status updates

  • Cloud-hosted and browser interface - a responsive design so can be used on tablets or phones

  • Document management system for attaching photos and documents to quotes, projects, opportunities and customers

Whether you are a new or small business on the path to growth, a growing company held back by outdated software or an established business looking for a competitive advantage, the operational efficiencies gained from a fully integrated cloud-based management software solution, tailored for your industry, cannot be underestimated

Please contact me if you would like to have a chat about anything renewables and technology – you will find a interested and willing participant. Email Me, Director of Sales – Odoo at WilldooIT, 0400 017 444. 

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