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A Look Under the Hood: How GreenLancer Software Accelerates Clean Energy Adoption

A Look Under the Hood: How GreenLancer Software Accelerates Clean Energy Adoption
A Look Under the Hood: How GreenLancer Software Accelerates Clean Energy Adoption

Boosting renewable energy capacity is crucial for mitigating climate change, securing energy resources, and fostering economic growth. While solar energy offers rapid deployment potential, various hurdles can stall the planning and installation. Established in 2013 in Detroit, GreenLancer is dedicated to accelerating the adoption of solar energy, and its software platform enables this advancement through its operational leverage.

GreenLancer is the only online marketplace for solar contractors to select service partners to fill gaps within their engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance processes. Founded by Patrick McCabe, GreenLancer's inception was fueled by his vision of accelerating solar adoption by productizing services to make it easier for solar installers to purchase them on demand, as needed.

“By productizing design and engineering services, and making them available on-demand via ecommerce, the customer knows upfront what they’re going to get, when they’re going to get it, and how much it’s going to cost,” adds McCabe.


solar energy - solar installation

The Evolution of the GreenLancer Platform 

Drawing inspiration from local legend Henry Ford, and the invention of automotive assembly lines, GreenLancer developed a software platform to create “virtual assembly lines” to organize design and engineering partners and ensure efficient fulfillment of services. As the business grew, GreenLancer incorporated concepts of continuous improvement and lean manufacturing championed by Toyota. Lean manufacturing is a systematic approach focused on minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency. Continuous improvement entails the ongoing process of enhancing processes and practices to achieve optimal outcomes.

These fundamental principles have laid the groundwork for GreenLancer's technology team to continuously innovate and adapt, ensuring the platform is agile and remains at the forefront of solar industry advancements. Over the years, the platform has evolved into a fully-featured Business Process Network (BPN), enabling customers and vendors to collaborate on solar projects within GreenLancer’s network.

“We built our BPN platform in a domain-agnostic way, focusing on features which help manage any type of business processes at scale, rather than industry-specific functionality,” explains Matt Howe, Chief Technology Officer for GreenLancer. “Our platform is flexible, and the domain-specific knowledge and methodologies can be entered into the platform in a click-to-configure manner. This makes our platform readily-adaptable to different applications.”


Expanding the GreenLancer Platform Beyond Solar Power

Although GreenLancer initially focused exclusively on solar energy adoption, the company later expanded its platform to offer a wider range of services. It recognized process gaps in industries beyond solar energy, specifically electric vehicle (EV) charging and telecommunications. 

To accommodate these industries, the GreenLancer technology team enhanced the platform's capabilities to provide design and engineering services for EV charging station contractors and telecommunications companies. By leveraging its software and expanding the platform, GreenLancer successfully expanded its service offering into adjacent industries.


Driving Efficiency Through Software Innovation

GreenLancer's core strength lies in its ability to organize high-volume work in a piecemeal format, allowing solar contractors and developers to navigate complex projects with ease and efficiency. The Business Process Network approach breaks down the solar installation process into repeatable tasks, enabling contractors to enhance project management, reduce bottlenecks, and optimize solar project timelines. By providing a framework that aligns with lean manufacturing principles, GreenLancer empowers solar contractors to deliver high-quality solar installations with precision and speed. Although GreenLancer clients are typically contractors, developers, and EPCs, the company has occasionally partnered with other stakeholders.

One such opportunity arose when a global engineering firm reached out to GreenLancer for assistance. The firm had a client wanting to install solar systems on 2,500 commercial retail locations nationwide and was anticipating an overwhelming project management burden. 

GreenLancer recognized this as an opportunity to apply its malleable platform and effectively organize high-volume work for the firm, from solar site surveys all the way through to installations. The firm utilized its internal team to complete all of the work, leveraging GreenLancer’s BPN platform to configure, organize, and manage tens of thousands of tasks. This collaboration was a great success, prompting GreenLancer to look for new opportunities to utilize their platform to accelerate clean energy adoption.

“Working with [the firm] proved how our BPN platform can be used in different contexts, to support many different business processes running the complete project lifecycle. We provided lots of reporting metrics and data dashboards which drove continuous improvement. It was a great project for us to collaborate on, and [the firm] was thrilled with the results,” shares Howe.

GreenLancer office - new
GreenLancer office, photo courtesy of GreenLancer


GreenLancer’s Nimble Culture Fosters Digital Ingenuity

Despite transitioning from a startup to a profitable mid-market business, GreenLancer has retained its nimble nature and embraces continuous improvement. Although it offers the stability commonly associated with larger companies, GreenLancer operates differently. The technology team is small and dynamic, fostering an environment where individuals can take ownership and bring their ideas to life.

The team incorporates remote, hybrid, and on-site members. The team periodically convenes for collaborative in-person brainstorming sessions, fostering creativity and idea sharing. Individuals can then take a feature from the whiteboard concept stage all the way through deployment. This level of ownership offers a sense of pride in the work and can lead to high job satisfaction for its software engineers. Plus, they can see the direct impact they have on their mission to accelerate clean energy adoption.

GreenLancer empowers team members by utilizing their insights and expertise while often giving them ownership and autonomy on projects. Members have the opportunity to implement new features, whether working individually or collaboratively with others. This approach encourages creativity and camaraderie while also cultivating a sense of responsibility and accountability among the team.

"What I like most about GreenLancer's culture is how friendly, hardworking, and collaborative everyone is,” explains Howe. “It's a high-trust environment, and you get a lot of responsibilities, but your teammates on your team or other teams are happy to help you out. There are lots of opportunities for growth and learning new skills, and by working closely with other teams you gain exposure to more areas of the business."


Growing the Reach of the GreenLancer Platform

The GreenLancer technology team is looking towards the future to enhance the features and functionality of the platform. By leveraging an in-house technology team dedicated to continuous improvement, GreenLancer will introduce new capabilities that further streamline the solar energy, EV charging, and telecommunication industries. Past successes have driven GreenLancer to look for new applications for its software to organize high-volume work, facilitating broader access to this groundbreaking technology. 


Are you passionate about accelerating clean energy adoption? The GreenLancer technology team is growing, and there are remote, hybrid, and in-person job openings for software engineers and other roles.


About the Author

Sarah LozanovaSarah Lozanova, who lives in Midcoast Maine with her two children, is a copywriter driven by her passion for helping businesses adopt environmentally friendly practices. With a strong background in renewable energy, she has facilitated residential and commercial solar energy installations and guided large corporations on sustainability improvements. She is now the Marketing Content Manager for GreenLancer, a company dedicated to helping clean energy contractors overcome engineering, design, permitting, and logistical challenges. Sarah is also the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living and has designed and taught green business classes at Unity Environmental University.