Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software provides the infrastructure needed to effectively manage your company's financials. NetSuite is one of the best ERP systems for growing businesses because it is highly customizable with features that lend well to scalability. As your business grows, it adapts to your needs. That is why so many companies switch to NetSuite once they reach the $10 million annual revenue mark.
A successful implementation requires a plan of action. Whether you decide to work with a NetSuite partner or implement NetSuite on your own, it’s important to know how the implementation process works.
If you are considering a NetSuite implementation, but are concerned about the process, this guide can help you execute a successful project.
Getting Started: Staff Your NetSuite Environment
Your Chief Financial Officer (CFO) isn’t typically the right person to be the subject matter expert on your NetSuite environment. The sooner you find someone to be your dedicated NetSuite Administrator, the better.
It doesn’t have to be someone who already knows NetSuite! Find a clear-thinking, inquisitive person with a good grasp of business and IT concepts. Most NetSuite partners provide training options. By being proactive and designating an employee that will be the NetSuite admin, you will be able to have a much smoother transition into go-live. This admin can be trained during the implementation process and will become your internal expert for how to best use NetSuite for your business.
NetSuite Implementation Checklist
- Assemble the team. This is a critical part to the process and takes time to get the right fit. NetSuite is capable of implementing the software, but it generally isn’t the most cost-effective option. NetSuite partners will save you money and be able to give you the timely responses you need along with the expertise.
Response times are a large factor in keeping a project on track, so timeliness matters. The cost per hour for NetSuite to implement is generally around $250/hr and U.S. based partners charge as low as $120/hr. Obviously, that is a pretty dramatic difference and can free up cash in case of delays, or for post-live updates.
- Requirements Definition and Business Process Review. If a NetSuite partner isn’t giving you large documents to write in your requirements, this is a big red flag that they don’t have processes in place. Requirements are a painful step because it needs more resources from the end user than other parts of the implementation. It requires business’s to get their most experienced employees in a room talking about all the things that need to be included. This includes accounting, warehouse, C Suite, sales, engineering, distribution, and other major departments.
- NetSuite Configuration and Customization. Once the requirements on the business process’s are made, the NetSuite partner will solution design and architect how NetSuite will accommodate for your process. The solution architect should also accommodate for post go-live changes that are predictable. From here, the partner will take all the requirements and build out the process’s and documents needed for the infrastructure. This is the time to start getting any 3rd party integrations like Amazon, Clutch, and Paystand payment processors completed too.
- Data Migration. Once the configuration/customizations are complete, the data migration from the old system (i.e. Quick Books or Microsoft) can be imported into NetSuite using CSV uploads.
- Testing/User Acceptance Testing. Now that everything is in place, it is time to complete an exhaustive testing procedure which includes the people that will be using the system. It’s time to get your accountant in the room performing some example scenarios to ensure everything has been covered.
- Client Training. Training is often overlooked, but a large reason for companies to fall behind in their business. One day your warehouse is using certain computer clicks to manage their inventory and the next day they have to do it completely different (to an extent). The employees still have your business knowledge and know what they need to accomplish, but they don’t always know how. It is important that they have training and even get things like “Shortcuts” set up for each individual to start off on the right foot.
- Go Live Implementation. This is the heart stopping time for any business owner. You can expect for some things to be slowed, but there is no reason for the business to be halted as a result of something being missed. The implementation team should be onsite ready to answer questions all week. In addition, the implementation team will have developers and consultants on stand by to quickly patch anything that needs fixed.
- Post Launch Support & On-Going NetSuite Consulting. This is the area that nearly every company fails to understand the importance of. Your business is constantly growing, and you likely needed to limit scope of the initial go-live to reduce the risk of things going wrong. It’s time to begin rolling out customizations and features that you want to improve the business efficiency.
5 Common NetSuite Implementation Mistakes
Here are some common mistakes to avoid during your NetSuite implementation.
- Working with the wrong implementation partner. Look for someone who has experience working with a company like yours. Different partners will have experience in different industries, so don't be afraid to ask for references.
- Migrating uncleaned old data. This is the time to get rid of any workarounds your team has gotten used to that should have been cleaned up years ago. Cleaning up data can help you avoid carrying over old issues to the new system.
- Optimizing for your current process. Without examining what you want your system to do, you can potentially miss out on process improvements that can make your business run better. Take the time to learn about the NetSuite platform, the available SuiteApps, and all of their combined capabilities. Otherwise, you may feel the increased cost later, when something that was missed has to be added to your system at a later stage.
- Launching without using NetSuite's sandbox tool. A sandbox is a test account that lets your employees explore and use the system in a safe environment so they can learn how to use NetSuite to complete their daily duties. Having access to a NetSuite Sandbox is an additional cost on top of your implementation, but it will save you on costs in the long term.
- Overlooking the importance of training your admin. Having your users actively use all the new features in a system is unlikely to happen instantly, but good training and support will help the transition happen smoothly.
Quick Tips and Next Steps
You are likely in the initial discovery phase if you are reading this article, so it is important to talk to a human so that you can ask specific questions unique to your business. There are several types of NetSuite partners and it is important to know the difference.
- Solution Partner: Sell NetSuite and often are alliance partners too
- Alliance Partner: Implement NetSuite, generally more expensive
- Commerce Agency Partner: Focused on NetSuite SuiteCommerce but have staff for NetSuite implementations too. Generally more affordable option.
I suggest talking to people at each of these because the Solution partner will have great demos available because they are really good at selling software; the Alliance partner will help you see what sets solutions apart; and the Commerce agency partners knows NetSuite implementations in and out, so they will probably give you the best price. Just make sure they have experience in working implementations have the appropriate certifications.
Need Help with NetSuite?
Implementing NetSuite has clear benefits. It can power your business to help increase revenue and expansion through a single unified platform. However, it’s not as simple as just flipping a switch. There’s a lot of research, goal-setting, planning, and executing that needs to take place in order to have a successful project.
For some best practices for implementing NetSuite, register for our upcoming free webinar.