Operation management: outsourcing or doing it yourself?

Operation management: outsourcing or doing it yourself?

When is it useful to delegate, and which tasks can and may I take over myself? Learn what you should consider when choosing the right service provider.

Deciding who will take over the operational management of your photovoltaic system is a balancing act between saving service costs and avoiding risks. How much time you want to spend on operational management and how technically versed you are is decisive.

If you are equipped with the necessary know-how, tools, and safety technology, you can theoretically do a lot of things by yourself. From the supporting structure to the assembly of the modules to the cabling – working on your own during the installation is possible. When performing some maintenance on the roof, you can get your own insights and detect dirt on the modules that you will want to clean yourself.

System cleaning is a good example of the risks involved in taking over maintenance tasks yourself. It is not as simple as it sounds: manufacturers usually stipulate the specific brushes and kind of water to use. If you do not respect these recommendations, you can lose warranty claims.

Using the wrong cleaning equipment, such as high-pressure cleaners, can also cause micro-cracks or breakage. Even if you cannot see micro-cracks with the naked eye, they will reduce the yield of the modules. You should be aware of the risks involved in everything you do in order not to endanger your own health or damage your equipment. Reading through a complete solar cleaning guide can help greatly.

What should you not do yourself?

  • Annual financial statements (tax consultant)
  • Verification of stability (structural engineer)
  • Work on electrical installations in the public network (certified electrician)

For all these tasks, third parties must be involved. Other activities are not tied to verified professional qualifications. However, all providers and you yourself must comply with accident prevention regulations as required by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) – or the respective governmental organ in your country.

What is sensible to do yourself?

The operational management and solar panels maintenance need time. If you save more than you earn in the same amount of time and you can and may take over the task, as doing it yourself can be useful. But it also involves risks: working on roofs and/or on electrical installations has a considerable accident potential. In addition, the statutory accident prevention regulations must be observed.

The implementation of manufacturer’s specifications for guarantees can be linked to specific qualifications and/or approved equipment. In addition, banks and insurance companies may require that certain work has to be performed by certified service providers.

You should make economic decisions based on the following guiding question: can and may I do it myself?

  • Yes: are the opportunity costs lower if you provide essential services yourself?
  • No: compare the costs of different service providers for mandatory services that you cannot provide yourself.

In the case of services that are not absolutely necessary, you should always consider whether the costs invested (whether externally caused or own opportunity costs) can generate an additional return that exceeds the cost.

If you want to call in qualified service providers, they first must be found. This can lead to a considerable amount of searching, comparison, and decision-making effort.

How do you recognize good service partners?

Before awarding services, you must check whether the partner has the necessary qualifications, approvals, and equipment. The investment decision for service partners can only pay off if warranty and liability risks are being minimized.

A cost-effective offer from formally unqualified service providers is risky. Depending on the task, there are requirements based on DIN, VDI or ISO standards. Service providers are trained and certified by TÜV institutes, among others. In the field of solar cleaning, there is the industry’s own OQS certification.

You also should pay attention to the experience of the providers and check references. At best, you will be able to discuss quality and reliability with existing customers of the service provider.

The next factor is cost: is the price-performance ratio in line with the market? By standardizing processes, experienced service providers can show off their price advantages. You can save yourself the effort of searching and evaluating suitable service partners by turning to experienced counterparts in the industry.

Criterias that Milk the Sun service partners must fulfill:

  • Market-driven price-performance ratio
  • Many years of proven experience
  • Flexibility and service orientation
  • High quality standards and professionalism

Mona Lebied

Online Marketing Manager @Milk the Sun. Passionate writer about solar energy and photovoltaic news, but also SEO tips'n'tricks. Working in the bustling startup landscape of Berlin, Germany.