Solar continues to boom across the country. New projects are being built at a record pace and new opportunities abound. As costs drop, the number of potential projects that can pencil grows exponentially.
It’s tempting to think that growth is always a positive for your business, but this isn’t always the case. Solar companies need to be focused on growth, but solar assets managers understand that it’s more complicated. Growth can be a tax on the system–it tests your efficiency, and can stretch processes and manpower to the limit–sometimes to the breaking point.
What is the successful solar asset manager to do? The answer, of course, is that successful solar asset managers must stay ahead of the curve.
Sustainable Growth without Additional Staff
In early 2016, the Soltage Asset Management team faced just this issue. The company was experiencing unprecedented growth but wanted to keep costs under control and headcount the same—while continuing to maintain quality, responsiveness and versatility.
Soltage believes a good team is built on the expertise of its members, and that the single most beneficial investment a company can make is in its people. Soltage’s team has deep experience and expertise, and a commitment to keeping their focus on the market and the customer. Soltage was happy with their team and its size—and were not ready to expand at that point. They understood that meeting growth requirements doesn’t have to mean growing your team, in addition to the long-term cost this can reduce efficiency in the short term as new staff are trained and get up to speed. In this example, sustainable growth meant better leveraging their existing staff. Soltage’s business model is built on relationships, helping clients take control of their energy costs, and it is well versed in collaboratively seeking out and implementing new efficiency strategies. In this case Soltage’s team used internal process reviews and collaboration to find ways to better arm the people it already had.
Soltage brings the best technological backing to solar asset management, so when faced with imminent growth, they looked to technology solutions and automation as a natural fit. In conjunction with PowerHub, Soltage pursued automation and process refinement through tools that could better empower and inform the team.
Soltage and PowerHub have been working together for more than a year. With PowerHub’s support on the back end, Soltage found the efficiencies it needed to increase the number of assets under management by 56%, and the number of megawatts under management by 127%, without adding a single new team member.
By deploying software instead of investing in additional resources, Soltage is realizing a 50% return on their software investment.
Automation Drives Efficiency
Soltage used PowerHub to automate and manage its solar invoice creation, which reduced the time required to invoice. Late payments are virtually eliminated, and record keeping is easy. Soltage and PowerHub worked together to create reports that perfectly balance automation, customization, and insight. Soltage’s proprietary production models run across monitoring system platforms and different site configurations, meaning that Soltage can customize and select data on their tailored solar asset management platform as needed to create insightful and actionable reporting. The automated process means that production analyses that used to take a full day in Excel now take less than five minutes in PowerHub.
Better Processes for Better Asset Management
Working with PowerHub’s asset management software helped make Soltage’s internal expertise more scalable. The team has more bandwidth and easy access to the information they need, when they need it. This is in part a direct result of the process refinement Soltage has accomplished, and which it passes on to clients, as a result of mobilizing the right asset management tools.
As an example, metatag searches across multiple projects means better document control and eliminates issues with version control or document duplication. Task tracking means that everyone is clear on who is doing what, and when – you’re never unsure of the status of a project, and workflow management is easy.
Overcoming Growing Pains
At 2016’s Solar Power International Conference, there was plenty of talk about how the solar industry needs to continue to mature, and PowerHub and Soltage are leading the way. As the number of managed assets increases, skilled asset managers—and the tools that enable them—are mission-critical. Soltage is a prime example of the perfect marriage between expertise and technology.
A more efficient team with better tools allows the number of assets under management to be maximized and frees up time and money for new opportunities.
Soltage is launching new projects, starting new business lines, and working hard to continue growing their business—aided by PowerHub’s simple renewable energy asset management tools. In fact, their growth has been so successful and sustainable that Soltage is actively expanding its 3rd party asset management service built on expertise and PowerHub-aided efficiency.