Go Solar

GoSolar Newcastle supplies and installs solar energy systems in the Newcastle area of NSW.


  • Solar energy company GoSolar Newcastle slashes admin costs by replacing whiteboards with iPads.


  • Solar energy systems supply and installation.


  • GoSolar commissioned a custom solution which enabled staff to manage all details of a job on an iPad connected in real time to a hosted server.


  • Administrative costs slashed as office no longer needed.
  • All information instantly up to date and available to all staff.
  • Simple generation of Government compliance reports.
  • Electronic capture and instant transmission of signatures.
  • The ability to include onsite photographs at any stage of the install.

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).

Better use of time was obvious from the start:

No staff member needs to waste time attending the office as their iPad replaces whiteboards which had appointments and installation data that had to be written on and wiped off continually.

When FileMaker Pro 12 was released in April 2012 Anthony advised Lindsay to get on board the new system. The advice was taken and the transition from version 11 to version 12 was painless.

Many photos are taken on site, early in the process to verify accurate locations and after installation as proof of compliance. Lindsay was impressed with the improved speed in downloading photos offered by FileMaker Pro 12 and what he describes as bullet-proof performance. Reduced administration costs and more efficient operation have boosted the bottom line by generating more contacts and queries:

Productivity has gone through the roof. Everyone knows all info in the system at all times and it is up to date instantly.

This story is a great example of how FileMaker solutions can help small businesses make significant cost savings simply by going mobile. It also shows that the FileMaker Pro 12 platform is the simplest and most affordable way of doing it.

As Lindsay says:

This was definitely one of my better business decisions!

Thank you to Lindsay Parker and Anthony Littlewood.

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