With a busy service department handling around 5,000 calls in its peak seasons, SolarCraft Services Inc. depends on their software keeping up with its pace of business. And business has been strong — totaling over 6,000 solar thermal installations in Northern California. But in 2015, when controller Pat K. was a dispatcher for SolarCraft, their construction software was struggling to deliver across the board.
“A Service Module Was an Absolute Necessity”
“It was the software you get at the bottom of a cereal box,” Pat jokes now. “It was buggy to say the least. We learned to work around it, but it was difficult to get the solutions they gave us to work consistently. Their support was terrible.”
A consultant for SolarCraft, Jeff, was in the midst of an exhaustive software search. Meanwhile, Pat was scheduling up to six technicians each day, with between 10 and 12 calls each. Their current system may have been far from perfect, but whatever they might replace it with couldn’t be allowed to slow them down. As time passed, however, no single software package seemed to tick all the boxes for SolarCraft’s requirements.
“A service module was an absolute necessity. There was a lot of software we looked at that didn’t have it, or else it was very weak.” Pat remembers, “We needed something that was strong and reliable.” They also wanted the option to go with traditional on-premise software instead of being forced onto the cloud. Finally, having a system that used an SQL database was a big factor too.
Jeff then got in touch with Foundation Software. He began communicating with one of their sales representatives about FOUNDATION® and its optional Service Dispatch Module. Pat was brought into the conversation too, he says: “I got to ask him questions from the service end of things. I was really interested in the functionalities of contracts and service histories. As soon as I saw I had what I needed, I was all for FOUNDATION.”
“It Was Seamless”
SolarCraft describes their transition as smooth. They even took the lead, taking advantage of their ability to format and import past data into FOUNDATION themselves, though Foundation Software’s training team was ready to step in when needed. “Our trainer, Ryan, guided us from the beginning, and the support we got from Foundation was helpful,” Pat says. “We were able to do a lot of the process ourselves, and it went well. It was seamless.”
Since they’ve been up and running, Tricia C., SolarCraft’s accountant, has certainly noticed a difference. “Our processes are definitely more streamlined. On the accounts payable side, being able to see POs as they’re received and easily matched up with invoices is great, and it’s good to know that A/P has a variance you can set so invoices aren’t continually kicked back.” She’s seen internal controls improve as well. They can now restrict users to only the functions and reports they need in order to do their job: “They’re only allowed to do what they’re allowed to do. They can see what they need to see without making changes they shouldn’t.”
Now the controller for SolarCraft, Pat also sees additional benefits from the software he helped to pick as a dispatcher. “For me, I love the DataGenie and all the different genies they have,” he says, referring to FOUNDATION’s series of custom report, invoice and import designers. “Those are great. I love how FOUNDATION allows you to do different imports like journal entries and to import data into different places throughout the different modules.” Here’s where that SQL database they were after pays off. “Because I have experience with SQL, I can easily build tools for us as we use the system.”
Looking back too, Pat’s still pleased with how the software fits their needs as a labor-intensive service contractor. “In general, I like the way everything in FOUNDATION ties together very well. The service module is designed well. I love the dynamic filtering so you can see which dispatches are available where, with who and what — it’s a very powerful feature. Yeah, I’d say I found it very easy to get used to and to get our new service manager and dispatcher to use them. I think the service module is a great addition.”