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On-boarding, Training & Overcoming the Learning Curve of Energy Toolbase

As an Account Manager with Energy Toolbase (ETB) I am on the front lines of our customer’s learning development. My primary role is training, onboarding, and supporting our rapidly growing user base. I am constantly reminded of the different challenges our users face when navigating our platform for the first time. I wanted to share some thoughts in this blog, which can hopefully accelerate the learning process for new users so they can fully leverage the Energy Toolbase platform. Here are a few important takeaways that I have learned in my tenure with ETB.

Overcoming the Learning Curve

Training is most effective when it is custom tailored to a user’s specific needs. One of the challenges of training new users on ETB is the fact that our software can be used for many different types of applications. For instance we have users leveraging our tool for residential, commercial, solar, energy storage, and net meter aggregation projects, all of which have their own nuances. It’s most effective when users specify their business cases upfront, so we can tailor their training to their needs. Not only does this help to get over the initial learning curve hump, it gets them quicker to utilizing many of the more advance features of our application.

In addition to working fulltime with ETB, I dedicate a few hours a week as a tutor at Dominican University of California. The main goal that I have with all my students that I work with is to help them accelerate their learning process. This allows them to climb a steeper learning curve in a shorter amount of time and achieve the “A” grade they are working for. Similar to the students I help, the new users of ETB are often stretched on time and bandwidth. Their goal is to quickly learn our product so they can go out and close deals and produce revenue for their business!

“Switching Costs”

It’s challenging for developers to find the time in their busy schedules to learn yet another software tool. This is especially true when the market is hot, which it has clearly been recently. In order to justify a switch, a user has to feel that the new tool is meaningfully better than what they are currently using. I’ve heard a few different justifications from our users why switching to Energy Toolbase is worth the time and effort:

  • The market is competitive, and developers need best-in-class tools to run their analysis. ETB provides advanced tools with a deep level of analytical rigger and sophistication. Many projects now require specific types of modeling, like time-of-use rate switching, simulating the reduction of demand charges, net meter aggregation, or solar + storage hybrid projects.
  • Developers need to be highly efficient with their time. ETB streamlines the utility rate analysis and proposal generation process. This enables them to qualify and prioritize their best projects, and get accurate, objective and transparent proposals to their clients more quickly.
  • Trust is paramount when running ‘avoided cost’ analysis. Whatever software a user deploys needs to be proven and have market validation. Energy Toolbase is utilized by hundreds of the most reputable developers in the industry. Furthermore, we have the endorsement of a number of leading manufacturers, wholesalers, financing providers, and owner/operators, which gives our product credibility.
ETB, Creating a More Sophisticated User Base

Time and again our users have told us that utilizing ETB has made them into a more sophisticated developer, which is definitely one of the most gratifying parts of my job. This statement can mean a number of different things, because our user base has many different types of expertise. For example, some new users are seasoned engineers and have a strong understanding of PV electrical system design, but may not be as familiar with financial modeling. Hence I’m training them on concepts such as Avoided Cost, Lifetime Cost of Energy, Net Present Value, and Discount Rate. Other users have deep experience developing projects in a particular market, and are looking to use ETB to model savings in new utility territories they are not familiar with. So our training is covering different rate structures and how that affects the avoided cost calculation.

For new or potential users of ETB that are reading this, it’s important to recognize that in order to improve your project development sophistication, it’s going to take some elbow grease, time, and patience. That is one of the main reasons that Energy Toolbase has a dedicated support team of Account Managers to help with the onboarding and training process. If you are either a current or new user of our tool, please do leverage your Account Manager and the many different types of resources we provide to enhance your overall learning development.

Jonathan Mooney has over 12 years of experience in finance, business development, and marketing roles. Prior to joining Energy Toolbase, he worked in both renewable energy and start-ups environments. He continues to work at Dominican University of California as a tutor for under-graduate and graduate-students educating them on the finer points of corporate finance, financial modeling, accounting, and business planning.

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