Namasté Solar is a progressive, employee owned solar company in Colorado that is quickly gaining a national reputation as an innovator. The Director of Information Technology (IT) oversees project managers working on both residential and commercial project types in addition to ensuring efficient IT support for internal customers such as the marketing and sales departments.
- Communication between functional departments and between the organization as a whole and its stakeholders was time consuming
- Cumbersome process to give project team and management views into project status
- Difficult to know how to request resources and how many were needed
- No easy way to enable true project portfolio management for better collaboration in-house and with contractors
"I'm basically tasked with supplying them with whatever technology tools they need," the director said, "so in the past few years, we've continued to evolve a customer relationship management (CRM) system on the sales side as well as a project management system." Along with ongoing internal projects, his group ensures that internet reporting systems for their customers' commercial solar installations are functioning well. "TV systems are now being monitored with a couple of pieces of equipment. We put the TV system on the internet, which reports to a central hosting system. That provides us not only with instant status reporting and notifications, but also with logging and metrics.
Over the course of a given year, we can report to a customer, 'This is where we're at in relation to the estimated performance of your system.' Even the utilities have an investment in this system and want to make sure it's performing optimally." Namaste concurrently manages over 110 active PV projects, for both residential and commercial customers, in addition to a number of internal IT projects. As to project management before Project Insight, the director says, "It was rudimentary. We were using a combination of Microsoft Outlook and Excel spreadsheets."
The biggest problem was communication, both within the organization and externally with Namasté Solar's stakeholders. "With a project duration of easily 18 months, we found it very difficult to communicate adequately, especially with our larger project stakeholders. As the company grows, the scale of the projects that we've been engaged to do has also grown commensurately, and it was a problem not being able to set the correct expectations about when their projects would be done, what's the critical path across the board, and so on," he said. "With the internal communication, it was really difficult for us to know how to request resources, how many resources, and when they were needed. Tied into that was the difficulty of scheduling and then communicating that schedule."