Canadian Solar Inc. is a global photovoltaic energy solutions provider with subsidiaries in 18 countries across six continents. The company's mission is to make a difference for the environment and society by delivering leading products and services to customers, partners, and investors.
The company is a top global manufacturer of photovoltaic solar panels, but also provides engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for building large solar energy facilities. These projects are complex, involving lenders (who often have their own engineers overseeing the work), subcontractors, and vendors to deliver to the customer.
To manage its projects Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. needed a system that would not only track all key project data, but also make that data available as necessary to others outside the company.
Canadian Solar Solutions Inc.'s existing Microsoft SharePoint software system could only be accessed inside the company's corporate firewall, so collaboration was nearly impossible.
“The SharePoint solution was not a good option, because we have a lot of consultants and third-party engineers who needed access to information," says Frederic Rivollier, Director of Global Energy, Canadian Solar Solutions Inc.
After looking into other solutions, Rivollier opted to build a customized project management app on the Intuit QuickBase low-code platform. He says the flexibility and simplicity of QuickBase made it the right choice compared to SharePoint.
“You don’t have to be a programmer to configure it,” he says. “You can be up and running with it very quickly.”
Rivollier started with a simple app that tracked projects and key dates, adding new functionality over time to replace the spreadsheets the project team had been using. Eventually the team added functionality to manage tasks, assignments, documents, comments, and project milestones.
Team members log in to the system from different locations to review solar plant designs and comment on iterations. Comments are filtered for either internal or external views, giving Canadian Solar the collaboration it needs to stay productive on large projects.
“We also have a lot of field guys who are using it to report back instead of sending daily reports via email; they punch into QuickBase and it emails automatically to the respective project’s team members,” adds Rivollier.
Five years after choosing QuickBase for construction projects, Canadian Solar is more connected and productive than ever.
Team members spend less time sifting through design reviews and comments now that the information is captured within the app, where it can be easily retrieved with a few simple keystrokes.
Staying on top of deadlines for simultaneous solar projects is simplified now that project milestones that used to be buried within email chains and spreadsheets are managed within the app.
And Rivollier was able to build a custom app that worked just the way he needed it to without the cost or complexity of hiring an outside developer.
“It’s much easier not to have to rely on someone else,” says Rivollier. “I don’t think I could have done this with SharePoint.”
Intuit QuickBase is a low-code rapid app development platform for building, customizing, and integrating custom business applications. With more than 5,600 customers and 500,000 active users, QuickBase is the technology of choice for companies that want to empower business users to solve their own challenges while maintaining the governance and security of an enterprise-quality app development system.