As with any business, for the EPC sector too, the key is to differentiate, or die.

Sure, you can operate without much of differentiation, but you could end up being a fairly mediocre firm in the medium and long term with little big achievement to write home about.

One of the sustainable ways to differentiate yourself in a sustainable way is to chart out best of breed practices and follow them rigorously.

In this content, we are listing down the best-of-breed practices being adopted by solar EPCs:

  • Process-driven Approach
    • Both customer acquisition and actual solar power plant implementation require significant attention to detail.
    • Such attention to intricate details is not possible without a well thought out and executed process
    • Some of the really successful EPCs – large or small – have mastered the art of process driven, instead of people driven, operations. Some examples of such process driven operations include:
      • Having templates for a number of activities that are highly repetitive – estimation, proposals, answers to frequently asked questions are some of the tasks that can be made far more efficient through templates.
      • Simple but powerful sales and project management structures – even where the EPCs are not using sophisticated ERPs, many of them are using easily available and economical cloud-based solutions such as Google Docs & Sheets that are customised for easy coordination.
      • Avoiding unnecessary travel – one of the oft repeated demands from rooftop prospects is to visit their premises. But making visits to every such prospect without knowing how attractive the prospect is a sheer waste of time. Many EPCs have devices simple mechanisms by which using freely available solutions such as Skype, they are able to survey the rooftop without needing to travel long distances. Through a combination of virtual surveying and use of simple calculators, they are able to arrive at the same inferences what a tedious and wasteful visit would have accomplished.
    • Technology
      • Having internal design expertise
      • Tech expertise for select domains such as diesel-solar hybrids
      • Tech partnerships with top tier component suppliers and solution firms
      • Good acquaintance with solar trackers installation and maintenance
    • Component Selection and Logistics
      • Tie-ups with high quality component vendors
      • Effective framework with parametrized comparisons for key component selection
      • Tie-ups with logistics providers (land, water and air transport) for cost effective and reliable logistics – ensuring just in time delivery, few delays and hence lower penalty payments, smaller warehousing requirements
    • Marketing & sales
      • Using good customer acquisition software
      • Well-designed and regularly updated web site
      • A team (even if small) dedicated to online marketing
      • At least one team member very good at selling
      • Focussed marketing practices such as attending key networking events
      • Publishing short but useful white papers
    • Project Management
      • Use of project management software to increase efficiency and cut costs
      • Having one of the team members with good acquaintance to high quality project management for construction projects
      • Following a high quality process for identifying and selecting sub-contractors
    • Post-project implementation
      • Maintain short turnaround times for repairs and maintenance
      • Offer O&M services under the same brand, either with own resources or through tie-ups with local O&M service providers
      • Explore possibility of providing asset management solutions, going beyond pure O&M – asset management includes, apart from O&M, also insurance and warranty claims management, security management, receivables management from the power purchaser etc.