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How to Get the Most Value From Your Solar Software

A common error that many managers make when researching new software is a fixation on pricing. Especially for first time software evaluators, it’s easy to be drawn towards the numbers being shown at face value and lean towards a cheaper option.

However, just because software is marketed as seeming to have a lower cost does not mean that it will necessarily add value to your solar business. Increasingly, companies are selecting best-in-breed solutions which, while not the cheapest, deliver on their promise to make your solar business better.

Why Pricing Shouldn’t Matter As Much

Pricing is an old-school value metric that shouldn’t be used as the sole or primary means of determining which software vendor to select. Other important factors to consider include:

  • Value – what you are getting for the price?
  • Longevity – can the vendor thrive sustainably at this pricing to keep growing the platform?
  • Comprehensive Cost Picture – besides from the platform’s initial costs, what kind of resources will be used in onboarding, training and maintenance?

Selecting a platform without taking the above factors into account can lead to some very costly mistakes. For example, a bottom-dollar vendor could go out of business due to a lack of funds, which leaves your investment into the platform out to dry. Another scenario is if a cheap, legacy generation software you select ends up being a wrong fit after your company has spent time and  dollars on implementation, integration and training.

In the end, the total costs of selecting the wrong platform could be much more expensive than the initial price difference between the cheaper, failed option and the more costly better choice.

Evaluating Based on Value Delivery

Here are 4 steps to consider to ensure that your selected solar software delivers the value and benefits you need:

  1. Determine and prioritize the challenges you want to solve. What are the true goals and objectives?  How would you go about measuring them? Understand what you truly need from the ideal platform and do not be swayed by feature overloads that inflate how useful the software might actually be to your business.
  2. Invest the effort to properly measure and project ROI. Without properly tracking the metrics that you have determined to be important to your team and company, you will never know how much of an impact the software has on your operations. Take a look at this article on best practices for measuring ROI in solar softwarefor some categories to consider.
  3. Develop a business case to prove effectiveness. By documenting your findings, you will be able to formalize the justification for pushing forward with the platform. Good software vendors would also see this as an opportunity to prove their effectiveness and should opt to work with you on developing such a business case. However, be sure to regularly review and validate the business case to capture long-term ROI and continuously your decision to senior management.
  4. Track the residual indirect benefits. Compare the timeline of the software’s implementation to the company’s overall progress to see if any irrelevant metrics have also been impacted. For example, if the new tool is much easier to use, you may see a rise in employee retention and satisfaction. Considering the cost of demotivated employees, this is one indirect benefit that could have an immense impact on your organization.

In order to better forecast the ROI of each software vendor you are evaluating, it is crucial that you compare them to the way you see value. Once you realize what makes the most sense for you (and not just what is easiest to explain), you will be able to convert a software’s pricing structure and proposition into a perspective that makes sense for your company. Being able to do so could reveal the true potential ROI of a software option and change the game. You may be surprised that an option which seemed too costly at first is actually the optimal choice to bringing long-term ROI to your solar business.

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