How to avoid common project delays in solar businesses

How to avoid common project delays in solar businesses

Australian solar businesses have a bright future ahead as the country gradually shifts towards renewable energy. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. With increased demand for solar installation services, it’s more important than ever for businesses to finish their projects on time. 

Unfortunately, there are many factors that can cause project delays in solar businesses. That’s why you should know about these common reasons for delays so you can avoid them.  

Inadequate planning

Project plans can make a big impact on the outcome of the entire job. If project plans are vague on deadlines and specific activities, it’ll be difficult to coordinate every aspect of your project. Meanwhile, a comprehensive plan can ensure seamless workflows and timely completion. 

The key to planning is to customise project templates that iron out every phase of the job. These templates should have instructions on procuring solar panel components and conducting site assessments before project execution. Also, the templates must include a detailed walkthrough of project tasks, from installing panels to connecting solar inverters to batteries. You can even elaborate on safety procedures in your project templates to ensure a risk-free environment and high-quality work standards. 

Disorganised scheduling

Sloppy schedules that fail to consider your team’s skills and workloads can derail solar projects. If you’re assigning technicians jobs above or way below their skill set, then project efficiency suffers. Overloading technicians with a tightly packed schedule can also lead to late arrivals and decreased performance.  

Proper job scheduling requires strong knowledge of the project’s scope, team capabilities, and activity time frames. Fortunately, you can simplify this process through automated scheduling tools like WorkBuddy. When you take on a solar project, WorkBuddy instantly breaks it down into multiple work orders based on the activities involved. You can then customise each work order’s requirements, checklists, and due dates. From there, WorkBuddy assigns the best technician for each work order based on qualifications, workload preferences, availability, and location.  

Altered projects

Change orders occur when clients request for additional features or want to reconsider certain project deliverables. This is a significant pain point for solar contractors because they have to spend extra time and money to complete the project. 

 The best way to minimise change orders is to add meticulous detail to your project plan proposals and estimates. Clients should know exactly what the finished project should look like so they can discuss and tweak requirements before technicians arrive at the job site. Showing clients job progress reports and conducting inspections after every project milestone can also help you address issues early. 

If clients do request change orders, there should be a system for notifying contractors and changing project timelines accordingly. What’s great about cloud-based job management platforms like WorkBuddy is that any changes made to work orders and schedules are automatically reflected on operational dashboards. This helps update your team of impromptu change orders, so they can prepare in a timely manner. 

Poor communication

Miscommunication between project stakeholders often leads to mistakes that can cause major delays. For instance, inconsistent and slow reporting can cause project management teams to make ill-informed decisions on a solar installation project. It’s therefore crucial to establish direct communication channels to all the parties involved in a project. 

WorkBuddy improves project communication through contractor and subcontractor portals. These portals make it easy for users to provide real-time updates on job progress and site conditions to project stakeholders. WorkBuddy even features a client portal where contractors can notify customers on project timelines and receive change order requests. WorkBuddy portals also come with an instant messaging feature, so everyone can stay on the same page about a project. 

Diminished cash flow

If you constantly operate with insufficient funds, then you won’t have enough to pay for equipment, materials, labour, and other project-related expenses. This hinders your ability to complete projects and severely impacts your overall profits. 

To avoid these issues, you need to forecast your company’s cash flow. Closely evaluate annual financial trends, fixed expenditures, and projected sales numbers. You can calculate a forecast from these figures using financial management software like Xero, QuickBooks, and MYOB Online. With a realistic forecast, you’ll be able to anticipate cash surpluses and shortages. For example, if you’re expecting a shortfall, you may need to scale back investments and projects so you’re not overextending your business.  

Labour shortage

Solar contractors are being stretched thin as demand for solar installation services in Australia increases. To prevent labour shortages from affecting your projects, there are several strategies you should implement. 

For one, partnering with subcontractors can give you the labour necessary to complete projects on time. You can usually find accredited technicians through sites like hipages and Clean Energy Council. If you’re looking for a more long-term solution, hire apprentices and interns through a mentorship program to take on rote tasks. There are also plenty of transferable skills found in electrical industries, so it may be worth headhunting for technicians there. 

Inaccurate job costing

Job costing errors tend to increase when expense calculations are done manually. If you track the wrong time sheets and material orders, you can end up with overblown prices that lead to client disputes. The time you waste fixing invoices and dealing with price objections prevents your business from getting paid on time. 

The trick to accurate and efficient job costing is having a streamlined invoicing system in place. WorkBuddy’s job invoicing feature tracks timesheets, material and equipment expenses, and other project costs in real-time. It then uses pre-established price books to calculate service markups and instantly generate a professional invoice. This allows you to bill your clients and get paid quickly after a project, so you can maintain a positive cash flow.

WorkBuddy is the ideal solution for eliminating project delays. From project planning to job costing, our job management software is designed to help you complete your solar projects on time. Book a demo today to learn more. 

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