How Sunrun sheds light on efficiency and growth with Chrome Enterprise

Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Joe Romeo, Lead Systems Administrator at Sunrun, the leading home solar, battery storage, and energy services company. Sunrun uses Chrome Enterprise to grow the business and help employees work efficiently.

The solar market is very competitive. Solar providers need to devote an enormous amount of technology and resources toward winning sales and getting ahead, and as the market leader for residential solar, Sunrun needs to continuously iterate, improve, and focus on efficiency in order to grow our business. Chrome Enterprise and Dell Chromebooks have become our go-to solutions for doing what we do better than anyone else.

How can we solve day-to-day business problems?  

We’ve standardized on Chrome Browser, and all of our employees use G Suite. That way, we can be device-agnostic, which works well in a business where people use all types of technology, including Android devices, iPhones, and every kind of computer. Ideally, we’d like everyone to use Dell Chromebooks moving forward, but first we wanted to understand who needs them and why.

We reached out to team leads in every business unit and asked what tools they used to get work done. We got some surprising feedback. For instance, our project coordinators’ workflow consisted of taking pictures of customers’ roofs before and after solar panel installations, then shrinking every picture down to thumbnail size on their Windows laptops before uploading them to Salesforce—a process that took a lot of time. 

We figured out a better way. We gave the project coordinators Chromebooks, which greatly simplified the process. We set up shared drives in Google Drive, with folders linking directly to Salesforce, eliminating several steps. It was a good example of how we can speed up work processes using better tools and communication between teams and our information technology department.

Chrome Browser also inspires us to get creative with homemade extensions. Our Salesforce team built an extension that lets people submit a trouble ticket with just one click, including adding a screenshot of the Salesforce webpage issue. The extension works much better than the old process of opening up a trouble ticket in Salesforce, which was frustrating and a barrier for people when seeking help.

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How can we get devices into peoples’ hands faster?

We’re a lean IT team, with about 35 people serving 4,400 workers. We don’t want to be a bottleneck for employees, like busy salespeople, who need laptops. In the past, we’d collect laptops from former employees and ship them to one of our onsite IT departments. Local IT professionals spent as many as two hours (in between support calls) re-imaging each laptop and installing security software before shipping them around the country to new hires, who may have waited up to a week to receive devices. Employees never liked this slow and costly process. It’s frustrating to show up on day one at a new job and not have the tools you need to work.

Chromebooks completely changed device handouts for the sales team. With Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, we can wipe Chromebooks remotely in five minutes or less—no shipping delays and no time-wasting. We created organizational units for each team’s laptop in the Admin console, each with different policies. It’s a much better IT management and security experience.

How can we onboard and train employees better?

Our overall onboarding process needed work even beyond the sales team. If you’re handing out new devices, training and change management are really important. Fortunately, Chrome Enterprise and G Suite ensure that our “laptop on day one” goal is met.

Our support teams have gone through extensive Chromebook training. Most of them use a Chromebook every day, so when employees call with an issue, support techs can walk them through it using their own devices. 

Google’s training documentation was very helpful, especially the support pages with lots of pictures (we love pictures around here!). In fact, we created GIFs for our monthly “Tips and Tricks” emails, showing employees how to open and edit Excel files in Google Sheets, for example. It’s much more effective than just saying, “click this, then click that.”

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When I came on board at Sunrun, our IT VP’s motto was, “Modernize and simplify.” These should be core values for any business. But in a company whose mission is to “make a planet run by the sun,” reducing wasteful processes and improving efficiency are right in line with what we do. Chrome Enterprise and Chromeboooks help us solve these pain points, and every day, they sprout all kinds of new benefits.