How 1st Light Energy Made Their ERP Work for Their Customers

Pat Garrehy, CEO, Rootstock Software

1st Light Energy is a fast-growing company and leading installer of custom-designed solar energy for residential, commercial and public sector applications. They have offices on both coasts and thousands of successful installations from Hawaii to Massachusetts.

“There is no question that we would not be as successful as we are without switching to a Cloud Salesforce AppExchange manufacturing cloud ERP in 2013,” says Trey Lackey, VP of Operations & IT / COO, 1st Light Energy. “We believed that an ERP system suited for manufacturers would meet our requirement. With multiple sites, we wanted a comprehensive cloud ERP system that could support these sites on the platform.

“It’s the flexibility of the platform itself that allows us to do such things as setting up our front end to simplify ordering and other processes for our commercial and retail customers,” adds Lackey. “For instance, some processes can take several steps but, after customizing them, no process takes more than two steps.

As an example, in the initial set-up, Rootstock ERP provides cost control which 1st Light Energy can tie into a project and build an item, harnessing materials resource planning (MRP). They have streamlined that to a 2-button click. To do this, Lackey and his staff establish the process first,and then they automate it. By customizing such processes, what used to take ten minutes to set up now takes only 20 seconds.

Customization Can Be a Key Benefit of Cloud ERP

Customization will always be a necessary component of user adoption and extension of software packages. It’s always been that way, and simply because an ERP solution is on the cloud does not change that fact. The chances are slim to none that any single ERP package, cloud or on-premise, will ever provide 100 percent of the “out of the box” functionality required by the entire the installed base.

While Cloud ERP demonstrates cost savings in almost every area – hardware, IT personnel, etc. – it only stands to reason that those planning on purchasing an ERP package must do more evaluation and analysis to determine how easy it is to customize and add enhancements to cloud ERP systems.

Public cloud platforms, such as Salesforce’s, offer significant advantages for IT departments, such as 1st Light Energy’s, to easily provide their own customizations to ERP Cloud software written natively on the public cloud platform. This is one of the significant differences, and benefits, to open systems on a public cloud. Latent customization projects can be controlled by the customer rather than the software provider.

Works Well with Others

Customers of public cloud software want the same ecosystem to share the same “look and feel,” for all the software they use. They want everyone to use the same protocols for opening up their applications so that all software will easily interface with others. And, most importantly, they want all cloud apps to be on a platform that insures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their information. In addition, they want to have a choice of multiple apps to satisfy their own specific business requirements. Furthermore, they will benefit from knowing that software solutions that they will want to add in the future have a very strong likelihood of being developed in this same ecosystem.

Third-party applications that share the same platform are usually easier to manage and integrate; they provide end users with a consistent interface and experience. According to Gartner, Salesforce has a huge lead over its competitors when it comes to ecosystem and platform maturity, as it clearly has the most applications, customers, revenue and advanced features, making it the clear market leader.

Not only does its platform provide development tools used by a large community of software vendors to ensure their products react as though they belong to the same family, it also serves up common objects, including customer, product, vendor and employee, which all software developers, including Cloud ERP system providers, should use in their software solutions.

Significantly, there are certain coding standards for development which facilitate the connection of different applications on the same platform. undertakes periodic software reviews to insure adherence to this standard, providing teeth to the rules dictating that those developing software for their platform are, indeed, developing that software to be communal. They don’t do this just to be helpful. To grow its brand, needs these applications to easily integrate. By creating software standards and enforcing them, the company ensures that this goal is met. As a result, we all benefit.

As the leading cloud platform, Salesforce provides a stable and growing cloud ecosystem for manufacturers looking for cloud-based ERP solutions. Salesforce has, in fact, become the perfect platform for cloud ERP. Rootstock Software is one of these cloud ERP providers.

Rootstock’s solutions support multiple companies, multiple divisions and multiple sites, an important consideration for 1st Light Energy, all within a single tenant on the Salesforce platform. This is exactly the kind of stability and flexibility that the solar leader was looking for.

There are ERP modules for sales order management, purchase order management, production engineering, inventory management, material requirements planning, lot and serial control, scheduling and capacity planning, and shop floor control. Manufacturing cost control and project control modules give companies, such as this solar power leader, finer control over costs.

New Tools on the Horizon

“We’re dependent on Rootstock cloud ERP,” emphasizes Lackey. “We would like to take advantage of some of the newer Rootstock features. For instance, we are very eager to look at the new financial platform that Rootstock will be introducing. It will provide us with tighter integration.”

Financial Apps include features such as A/R Cash Application and Credit Management, A/P Payment Processing and General Ledger and Journal Management. Financial Reporting will include fully customizable A/R and A/P Aged Trial Balances and Sub-Ledger analysis as well as Management reports for Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Management Analysis.

Existing Rootstock application features such as Sales Orders and Invoicing, Purchase Orders to Receiving to Vendor Invoice 3-way Match, robust Cost Accounting as well as recently released features like Subscription Billing and Deferred Revenue and Cost of Sales Management, provided much of the heavy-lifting source of transaction feeds into the new A/R, A/P and G/L Financial Apps. Adding more A/P functionality, such as invoice, debit memo and vendor credit maintenance (based on RTV transactions), to the flow was a natural extension of the present core functionality that has been provided to customers for several years.

1st Light Energy Keeps Growing

“Working with Rootstock has been a good experience,” summarizes Lackey. “They have provided us with what they said we would get. For instance, back in 2013, in our first ten months, we were able to reduce our COGS (cost of goods sold) significantly. Those types of results are common for us. In fact, we doubled the size of our business in the past year.”