When a company closes an office it's usually a bad sign. Not so for GoSolar Newcastle New South Wales. Thanks to the portability of FileMaker Go, sales and installation staff now work from home or on the road so the office is no longer needed. This is a giant leap from the original situation, described by owner Lindsay Parker:
White boards for appointments and installations were the centre of our universe, with customers' historic data kept on desktop computers in a central office location.
The company has four employees and provides a range of solar installations – photovoltaic systems which convert sunlight into electricity, solar hot water, ventilation systems and battery storage. As a small business in a rapidly-evolving industry, efficiency in operations is crucial. GoSolar Newcastle made the initial decision to eliminate office expenses by going totally mobile with an iPad supplied to all staff members. Having used Bento previously Lindsay felt confident that FileMaker Go linked to FileMaker Server was the answer.
As an all-Mac business in 2010 he approached the local MAC1 store in Newcastle for advice. They recommended local FileMaker Business Alliance Partner Littleman to develop a GoSolar solution.
Developer Anthony Littlewood quickly built a series of sequential modules which handled all processes from initial contacts through to quotes, detailed job descriptions, itemised system components and finally automatic warranty reminders. Installation component details can quickly be entered into the system using a Bluetooth barcode scanner. Invoices are signed off using a signature field on the iPad.
The solution meant that any staff member could access data anytime anywhere. Hosted at a datacentre on a FileMaker Pro 12 Server running on a Mac Mini, all data - photos, products in stock, customer’s contact information and notes - can be updated in real time via 3G. Lindsay continues:
All functions are available to staff on the road: inputting customer details; generating quotes; installing products with serial numbers; invoicing and receipting. The most important function is the generation of reports that go to the Federal Government for registration of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs).