On this blog, we have commented on how important it is becoming for solar companies to consider software solutions, especially as PV contractors focus more on reducing costs than on hard growth. Last month, we attended Greentech Media’s S3 Solar Software Summit at Solar Summit 2017 on the flourishing solar software space where a common message prevailed: the days of championing “all-in-one” platforms are over and best-of-breed software is the new way to go.
All-in-one software is exactly what it sounds like: a one-stop-shop that enables you to execute multiple functions in one place. For solar contractors, this could be a platform that combines proposal design, field service management (FSM), project management and customer relationship management (CRM) all at the same time. Although there are a number of vendors that aspire to such all-encompassing functionality, the reality is far from the robust system that you may be envisioning.
Especially for small distributed solar companies, the idea of a single platform being able to solve multiple challenges at once can sound very attractive. As simple and cost-effective as it sounds, solar technology industry leaders are noting that when software vendors try to cover too much ground, their focus becomes fragmented and they tend to fall into a jack-of-all-trades reality. Eventually, the vendors will have to choose which areas they want to concentrate on more – potentially leading to loss of support for your most critical use case of that platform.
At S3, the speakers all agreed that solar providers need to look into best-of-breed software instead. By going with the top software or hardware in that category, you ensure that the quality and performance of the product are there. Despite it being more work upfront in implementing a number of different software, you will find that you can receive better support from a best-of-breed software vendor and can rely on them to focus on improving what you purchased it to do.
Some common hesitations about using multiple platforms include how cumbersome it could be to switch between software and the dread of additional administrative work to match data between them. However, you can guarantee a smoother experience for all by connecting your best-of-breed technologies together. Here are some features to look for while researching for your next solar software solution:
As software vendors increasingly recognize that they are likely a piece of the overall puzzle and will be used in conjunction with other solar software, you will find more options in the marketplace that excel in their individual areas and offer the flexibility to integrate with with other software.
At the end of the day, implementing solar software is meant to help you streamline your processes, better run daily operations and make your team’s lives easier. Focusing on best-of-breed software ensures that the money and time you spend on implementing new platforms goes towards systems that are functional and high-performing so that your solar business can do more with less.
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