Affordable Solar LogoAs Affordable Solar began taking on bigger and more complex projects, their team realized that their existing solutions – NetSuite for inventory and QuickBooks for accounting – were unable to scale for growth. In addition, as the complexity of their projects increased, so did the length of their project timelines. Affordable Solar needed a scalable solution that would automate and integrate to keep projects – no matter their size – on time and on budget.

Affordable Solar brought on board an experienced Chief Operating Officer, Teresa Johansen, to develop a growth strategy. Her first course of action was to conduct a search for a fully integrated solution that would standardize their processes. They evaluated recommendations from various online software review services and referrals to narrow their short list to four vendors. They initially felt CMiC was “too big” for a company their size, but it was added to the short list as the only best-in-class, fully integrated solution capable of handling the complete cycle, from project conception to completion. Read the case study to learn why Affordable Solar chose CMiC and how deploying the platform has helped the company set the stage for growth over the next 20 years.

The Challenge

Affordable Solar, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a specialty contractor focused on renewable energy and solar arrays. Since their founding in 1998, they have installed over 2,500 solar arrays in New Mexico and supplied more than 20,000 systems to commercial, industrial, scientific, community and residential customers in 96 countries. The company runs two divisions – utility scale and residential – of which the former accounts for 97% of their revenue.

As they began taking on bigger and more complex projects, the Affordable Solar team realized that their existing solutions – NetSuite for inventory and QuickBooks for accounting – were unable to scale for growth. In addition, as the complexity of their projects increased, so did the length of their project timelines. Affordable Solar needed a scalable solution that would automate and integrate to keep projects – no matter their size – on time and on budget.

The Solution

Affordable Solar brought an experienced Chief Operating Officer, Teresa Johansen, on board to develop a growth strategy. Her first course of action was to conduct a search for a fully integrated solution that would standardize their processes. They evaluated recommendations from various online software review services and referrals to narrow their short list to four vendors. They initially felt CMiC was “too big” for a company their size, but it was added to the short list as the only best-in-class, fully integrated solution capable of handling the complete cycle, from project conception to completion. “We had initial worries that CMiC was too big for us, as their roster of customers typically includes firms on ENR’s Top 400 Contractors list,’ stated Johansen. “However, after a call with their sales team, we felt it was the right solution for us.”

The Result

With a limited number of their processes documented, the Affordable Solar team decided to map their business operations to CMiC’s system design. Prior to CMiC, they managed their data with spreadsheets and hard copies of other documents. Procurement, one of their most critical business functions, was handled using spreadsheets, with information manually entered into each purchase order form. This manual procurement and invoicing process was completely siloed, despite accounting for 87% of their revenue. Because their purchase orders did not synchronize with their accounting software, when the order was paid, each physical paper document would be circulated around the office until it found its way to the person responsible for signing off and updating the books. “We had purchase orders left open for years because nobody would clean them up,” says Johansen. “Now, with CMiC, we can instantly reconcile our purchase orders to make sure they are accounted for. This gives us visibility into accurate costs required to complete each project. In turn, this ensures accurate data flows into other areas of our business, like the bidding process, which gives us better margins on our projects.”

With CMiC, Affordable Solar’s approval process is now automated with a seamless workflow that is fully integrated, from order placement through approval. The user fills out the purchase order, which kickstarts the approval process. Similarly, a receiving process is kicked off once the materials are received. “There is no more paper involved in our process,” says Johansen. “When we look at our cost to complete, all of our financial data is there and up to date, so we know exactly where we are at any point in time. It’s infinitely better.”

Similarly, CMiC’s Productivity Module allows the Affordable Solar team the ability to track and maintain KPIs, which used to be manually collected and sent to customers on a weekly basis through an Excel spreadsheet. Now, they can easily send a report that shows what was completed, how many hours were spent, and the percentage of project completed based on closed tasks. Because data is categorized using cost codes, it can be sourced from anywhere in the system.

Since going live with CMiC in August 2019, Affordable Solar’s teams have successfully adopted the CMiC platform across the office and the field. Today, the company conducts live monthly project and finance reviews where all participants can follow along. “It is great to be able to project data on the screen and dive in and out of the numbers because everyone is following along with the same data at the same time,” says Johansen. “There is great value in everyone understanding and learning how others use the exact same numbers in their respective departments – an insight we never had with spreadsheets.” Reflecting on their decision to select CMiC, the Affordable Solar team envisions a secure future with CMiC. “The ability to scale is ultimately the reason why we selected CMiC,” says Johansen. “CMiC is a complete and stable construction platform, and I can easily see us using it for the next 20 years.”

“The ability to scale is ultimately the reason why we selected CMiC. They have delivered a complete and stable construction platform, and I can easily see us using it for the next 20 years.”
– Teresa Johansen, Chief Operating Officer, Affordable Solar

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