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Home Niels Lubbers on 20 years of Esdec

Niels Lubbers on 20 years of Esdec

"Efficiency and convenience are truly the keywords when it concerns the Esdec Calculator"
Niels interview Esdec

It is perhaps the most appreciated online tool, the Esdec Calculator. Since its launch in December 2020, there have been more than 50,000 active users and that number keeps rising. Niels Lubbers is not surprised about it. He started working as a Product Owner in about the same period as the launch. “The first stage of development was already done by then, but actually, the calculator is in constant development. We want to continuously improve and expand the product, which is what we are working on every day.”

Additional service and support

Making the installer’s job as easy as possible, is what Esdec stands for. Building value for solar professionals. Not only by developing smart mounting systems, certainly also by offering support in the form of additional services and support. The calculator fits right into that picture. Niels explains: “The idea emerged to bring together the various calculators of all individual mounting systems into one well-functioning product. It would be easier for the installer to have everything in one place, but it would also be a lot more efficient for the developers who only had to deal with one front- and backend.”

Reliability and quality

You would think that the idea was welcomed with open arms, but despite thorough preparation, this was not the case. If this calculator was so good and accurate, then were the old tools not? “We got that question back frequently from installers in the initial period after the launch. Repeatedly, we gave an honest answer. The old tools were not worse, though they were a lot less accurate. Thanks to new insights, improved test results and a financial investment, we were able to add many more details which increased reliability and thus quality even more.”

Working in multidisciplinary teams

One of the strengths of the Esdec Calculator lies in its ability to make changes at short notice all the time. “This is possible because we use the agile scrum principle; in multidisciplinary teams, we work bi-weekly towards the release of a new version. We put those teams together based on the topic or perspective. Product Management and Product Engineering are always represented, but we often also involve colleagues from Marketing and Research. The actual implementation lies externally at a software company, where two scrum teams of developers are responsible for managing both frontend and backend.”

Quantifying and prioritising

The dynamics of an international company in an industry where there is also plenty happening, sometimes makes it quite a challenge to map out all the requirements and requests for the calculator. And then you also have user input. “Exactly this is what I love about my job. In my first period, we determined priorities based on an annual meeting with relevant colleagues. Nowadays, this is already a lot more streamlined thanks to colleague Rik Hoppenreijs. He has developed a scoring model for the Product Managers, who use it to quantify the topics. The final score then determines the priority.”

Integration into MyEsdec

The team is currently working on setting up a digital ecosystem, integrating various tools. This contributes even more to the usability. “And so that is what installers and distribution partners appreciate so much about the Esdec Calculator. It makes their work visibly more efficient. That will only get better now that the Esdec Calculator has been integrated into MyEsdec and Esdec OnSite, a new digital environment and app in which various functionalities are linked. If you are on the roof for an inspection, you simply put your notes in the app, which then automatically fills them in for you in the calculator.”

Connecting to existing components

It is one of the main overarching pillars of the calculator, and its usability. But with ongoing internationalisation and digitalisation, ambitions reach much further. “Ultimately, of course, we want a well-oiled calculator tool for all business units which, like Esdec, fall under Enstall. With our digital services, we want to set European standards in the market for calculations that go beyond current laws and regulations. Moreover, we attach great value to connectivity: hooking into existing components as much as possible, such as Google Maps integration or an Auto CAD plugin, for example.”

Personally involved

So, by 2024, the Esdec Calculator will not stand on its one. With the arrival of MyEsdec and Esdec OnSite, installers are a lot less dependent on Customer Service, for example. “It is also easier for them to order their materials in the integrated web shops of more and more channel partners. Efficiency and convenience are the keywords, but at the same time, we as a company are still personally involved with the users. The calculator software is linked to our CRM system we always contact them by phone to check whether they still need help. Precisely that combination makes us distinctive.”

20 years of Esdec

So, in three years, the Esdec Calculator has become an essential tool for solar professionals, born from the idea of bringing together the tools of all the individual products. But how was it before then? That is what Michael Dijkslag wondered in the previous interview that appeared in the series in which we reflect on our 20th anniversary. “Excel used to be your only option,” Niels reflects. “Can you imagine how it has taken such a flight? Back then as an installer, you had to do everything yourself. Now so much work is taken out of their hands.”

Another service that is becoming increasingly popular is the Esdec Academy. Thanks to artificial intelligence, we already offer videos in the language of the country in which Esdec operates. But Niels is very curious about what further influences artificial intelligence will have on the further development of the Esdec Academy. We will take this question into account in the next interview when we talk with Thomas Elshof (Product Manager E-Learning).

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