Digital Workflows for Solar Project Management

One of the most exciting parts of working in the field of solar energy today is how fast the technology is evolving.

Innovation and research have helped the sector truly hit its stride in recent years as the efficiency of solar PV is skyrocketing at the same time that costs have decreased dramatically from where they were 10 years ago. 

The global solar industry is shifting towards larger, utility-scale projects. Driven by economies of scale and the opportunity for greater returns, solar project owners are focusing on these large-scale developments.

However, often overlooked in this trend is advanced technical and data management software needed to effectively manage such large projects. Digital workflows can help optimise decisions so that they maximise workflows while reducing costs.

This article will explore the benefits of project management process digitalisation for both solar installers and end users of solar power plants!

Digital Workflows As a Crucial Part of Solar Project Management

As solar has grown in popularity, projects have diversified  and become more complex. 

This complexity has made solar project management much more difficult. There are more risks to manage, more documents to keep track of, and more people to coordinate.

As a result of project owners' inability to recognize where productivity is being lost,  inefficiencies have become rampant.

Solar Companies Are Increasingly Looking to Software to Optimize Operations

In a nutshell, the challenge in solar has shifted from sales to execution and it’s no longer about having enough demand, there’s plenty of that, but rather fulfilling projects.

Operations leaders in the industry who recognized this problem early on, have already been revamping their solar operations to take on more projects and ensure that projects on hand are completed successfully.

In a bid to expand capacity in their operations, fast-growing solar installers and service providers have turned to a new breed of advanced solar project management software tools that are designed from the ground up for solar field and office teams.

Unlike general purpose CRM or Project Management tools that require a huge amount of setup and are not designed for field intensive work, these new solar software solutions come with industry best practice solar templates. 

Digitalisation of project workflows can recover inefficiencies and increase project-profitability.

By automating the management of routine tasks, digital workflows free up valuable time for solar installers to focus on higher value activities that actually require human involvement.

The value of centralising & streamlining solar operations

  • When the sales processes and project management processes are digitalised, the project developers, contractors, suppliers, and installers share the real time information at every stage of development. This allows for better coordination and communication, which is key to a successful solar installation.

  • Within this centralised and streamlined solar operations dataflow and workflow, new efficiencies are developed, new cost savings are made, and as a result, the staff has more capacity to conduct higher value activities, which results in bottom line profit for the company. 

  • Digital workflows also help to reduce project risk. By automating tasks, solar installers can avoid potential human errors that can often lead to costly mistakes. Additionally, by having all project information stored in one central location, everyone involved in the project has access to the most up-to-date information. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and reduces the chances of miscommunication.

Important Aspects Of a Digital Workflow

There are three important aspects of a digital workflow: documentation, collaboration, and decision-making:

1. Documentation:

A digital workflow is only as good as the documentation that supports it. In order for everyone involved in a project to be on the same page, all relevant files and information need to be accessible and up-to-date. This includes design files, specifications, bills of materials, as well as photos and videos. 

By creating and maintaining clear and concise documentation, stakeholders can refer back to it as needed, preventing confusion and delays.

2. Collaboration:

Digital workflows facilitate collaboration by allowing stakeholders to communicate easily and efficiently with each other. This includes the owner of the solar project, the installer, subcontractors, and any other party involved in the process. 

Digital project management software can help facilitate collaboration, allowing remote teams and members from different departments of the company to come together on a single platform. Moreover, having access to this data in real-time allows all relevant parties to make more informed decisions about their projects' performance and workflow. 

Digital workflow tools also enable users to share information securely, thus protecting sensitive data. Trigger words can be used to set off an alarm to notify the relevant parties.

3. Decision-Making:

Digital workflows help speed up the decision-making process by providing stakeholders with all the information they need in a single place. 

This includes data on performance, financials, and asset management. By having access to this data, project owners can make better decisions about their projects and identify areas for improvement.

Workflow automation enables consistent data collection from different sources, which is essential for accurate analysis. 

By digitising the project management process, stakeholders can be brought into the loop at every stage of development. This allows for better coordination and communication, which is key to a successful solar installation.

Digital workflows are an important part of project management for solar installation companies. By understanding these three aspects of a digital workflow-documentation, collaboration, and decision-making-you can use them to your advantage! 

Maximising The Overall Efficiency of Your Project Workflow

Solar project management software can help you maximise the overall efficiency of your project workflow by tracking resource utilisation, target performance, pending task assignment, managing timelines, and forecasting expenses and uncertainties. 

Project Planning

The use of solar project management software can help your team manage projects more effectively. You can easily set up projects using project templates, utilise flexible project duplication options to create new projects from templates and flexibly assign resources.

The software can also help project managers to view the entire project plan with an easy-to-read Gantt chart and get a comprehensive real-time snapshot of project status, down to the task level.

In addition, your team will be able to create revenue and cost estimates for engagements and use “what if” scenarios to optimise price, margin, billing rates and staffing.

Project Schedule

Solar projects are moving forward at a steady pace as a result of strong demand from enthusiastic consumers and industry-standard production methods. Any delay in completing these projects is unacceptable.

As a result, you must keep track of project activity and ensure that any possible delays are managed. 

With the use of solar project management software, you’re going to be able to compare projected and actual timelines, manage materials, manage manpower capacity planning, often on projects running in parallel, and recommend further actions.

Project Procurement

By using solar project management software, your project managers can streamline the project procurement process and minimise data entry and administration by managing the entire process in one platform.

You will be able to effectively manage RFQ’s and vendor communications, choose a preferred vendor/ subcontractor for projects, manage ordering and delivery time-frames and sign-offs.

Estimated Costs

Each project is unique in terms of customer’s requirement, budget, materials required and other aspects. 

To effectively win clients, it is imperative to quickly project costs of the project, so that customers have accurate data in front of them, to make the best possible decision.

The software provides the ability to enter time and expenses against projects and specific project tasks. This information flows through to the accounting and payroll modules to automate project reporting and payroll processing.

Is Your Solar Project Management System Set Up For Growth?

Here are 3 questions to help you get a pulse check on your solar operations:

Solar Installation Project Management Readiness:

How confident are you that your solar operations can take on 2 or 3 times more projects if orders were to continue to grow over the next 12 months?

Solar Service / O&M Readiness:

What would you have to do to allocate resources to complete 2 or 3 times more service work orders?

Solar Software Stack Readiness:

How efficiently is your solar team successfully completing projects and services using the current collection of software and tools? How connected are these tools?

Partner With PowerOn for Optimised Solar Management

If you’re looking for a solar management software that is easy to use and provides all the capabilities you need, PowerOn is here for you. We focus on delivering innovative solutions that make solar project management easy in the field and office. 

With accessible, user-friendly capabilities, you can access from anywhere. You will have everything you need with our single-source platform. 

Contact Us today or schedule a free demo to learn more about how we can help address your solar management software needs!

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Optimized both for residential and commercial solar installation companies of any size, the PowerOn software solution saves money and time by  streamlining the entire installation process.

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Digital Workflows for Solar Project Management
Nikola R. 21 June, 2022
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