The Changing Solar Installation and Maintenance Business Model
The Solar Industry is seen as one of the most progressed and advanced when it comes to Digital Transformation. Early adoption of both solar business management systems has been fuelled by:
1. Rapid Growth in the Solar Industry
A global trend in the solar industry is that of government subsidizations of residential and commercial solar technology for home-owners and business owners alike. This support for the industry has sparked a flood of entrants to the market and allowed them to scale quickly due to the ever-increasing demand for solar technology. In the USA, Canada and Australia we have seen this support for the solar industry have a huge impact on how solar companies plan and manage their IT strategies, as the opportunity for rapid growth brings about the requirement for scalable cloud solutions.
2. IOT and Sensor Technology
Research and development of solar technologies are seeing an unprecedented level of investment from governments and industry. The result of this is a generation of technology that is far more advanced than many other industries. Sensor technology and IOT is helping the solar industry by connecting business management software and field service management systems to the customers’ solar assets directly. This has a wealth of benefits for both the solar company and their customers, as connected systems mean instant response to panic maintenance requests, automated ordering of parts and proactive management of the asset over its lifetime.
3. Single Platform Solar Software Solutions
Many larger players in the Solar industry have been reaping the benefits of operating their entire organisation on a single platform for many years. Now, small and medium-sized players in this industry have access to cloud solar platforms such as, NetSuite and NextService which provide end to end functionality across every department of a Solar installation and maintenance business. This simplification of IT Ecosystems means Solar companies have access to real-time information about their sales, quotes and inventory as well as the status of their installation and maintenance jobs. Fully integrated service scheduling, along with mobile field service management apps means that a Solar business is able to control their business and grow, without needing to invest in additional administrative staff to cope with the increased workload.
4. The Digital Field Technician
In 2019, the overwhelming majority of field service technicians have access to either a smartphone or tablet, which means they are able to get access to the businesses core ERP and scheduling systems, assuming those systems are cloud-based. This, together with on-device features such as GPS tracking, and voice-to-text functionality is making it easy for a solar installation technician to capture more customer, asset and job completion data whilst in the field. The effect of this for solar businesses is that information is no longer collected manually on paper and entered into system days, or even weeks after the job is complete. Solar businesses who have embraced true-cloud technology report that their field service team’s utilisation skyrockets and administrative burden are almost completely eliminated after investing in single platform software for solar installation.
5. The End of the Data Silo.
Traditionally, the average solar installation and maintenance company has invested in a number of different software packages and database technologies. These software packages provide the functionality to a specific department in the business, such as CRM, Field Service Scheduling or Accounting and Financial control. However, the fundamental problem with this, as many Solar installation companies have reported, is that the data silo approach limits the usefulness of data and creates a great deal of additional work for managers when the information from different systems is needing to be aggregated to generate reports that support business decision making. The result of this is an ever-expanding library of spreadsheets and databases that prevent a business from relying on a single source of truth and making fast decisions.
NetSuite and NextService. A Single Platform Software Solution for Solar Installation Businesses
For over 5 years, NextService has been the world’s leading Field Service Software that is built exclusively for the NetSuite Platform. Whilst NetSuite provides a sophisticated CRM, Accounting and Financial Control and Inventory Management Solution, NextService extends the NetSuite platform by providing highly specific functionality that assists a field service business to manage their customer assets, service calls, scheduling, mobile data capture, job forms and inventory consumption. NextService is built for mobile, so technicians can have access to all customer, job and asset information when in the field, and record all asset and job completion information from the field. NextService also provides scheduling teams with a simple to use drag and drop interface to scheduling panic and routine maintenance jobs, as well as Field Service Dashboards that are tailored to provide real-time information across all departments.