Solar installations company, GoSolar Newcastle, has closed its office and gone with the mobility phenomena, handing its employees Apple iPads and allowing them to work from home or on the go through a FileMaker solution designed by database developer, Littleman.
The GoSolar team consists of three permanent staff (owner Lindsay Parker, a salesperson, and an office manager) and three teams of sub-contractors who do the installations.
Parker, who founded the company in 2010, said he realised the benefits mobility would have on his workforce in early 2011. Apart from saving money on rent, he said the move eliminated strife caused by manual processes.
“Everything was ruled by two whiteboards: one for appointments, the other for installations,” he said. “The problem was everyone had to be standing in front of those whiteboards at some stage to get up to date.”
“Then when we went from one week to the next, we would have to take photos of them and rub it all off to start again.”
Parker decided to purchase his staff the iPad as it was the first commercial tablet to gain major traction, and because he knew of the capabilities of the FileMaker product. After approaching his local Apple retailer, Mac1 Newcastle, he was referred to Littleman, a FileMaker business alliance partner.
Littleman director, Anthony Littlewood, built a series of sequential modules which handles all the processes from initial contacts through to quotes, detailed job descriptions, itemised system components, and automatic warranty reminders. All data is hosted at a datacentre on a FileMaker Pro 12 Server running on a Mac Mini, and can be updated in real-time via 3G.
The solution was completed and implemented in the second half of 2011.
According to Parker, it has allowed GoSolar anytime access to data, and enabled collaboration to avoid double-handling.
“The installers can see what they have to do from home, saving time. It’s good because we can instantly change something; the appointment comes in and we can add it to the calendar so everyone knows about it.”
“The most important function is the generation of reports that go to the Federal Government for registration of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs),” Parker added.
In addition, the solution is scalable; GoSolar can add a new device, throw the software on it, and give a new team member log in details.
“It is an ongoing process. We go back to Littleman constantly and ask for tweaks,” Parker said. “It is all about refining and making it simpler.”