Having a service like NetSuite at your disposal can give your business a lot of capabilities and functionality and allow you to do a lot of things. Not fully understanding the product you’re using and how to implement it can lead to some costly mistakes.
To get over the initial hurdle of understanding the full functionality of NetSuite and to help you avoid making some key mistakes, we’ve put together this guide to NetSuite and how to get the most out of your ERP software.
If you require assistance with a custom NetSuite development or implementation project, please do get in touch.
The purpose and primary driving force behind programs like NetSuite are to bring together all the different parts of your business under one convenient umbrella. The primary purpose of NetSuite is to bring all of your business’s different facets into one cloud-based space.
Much like you would digitize a bunch of old paper files to have easier access and to save space, cloud computing is now the way to go when connecting different components of a business to allow for smoother operation.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is about letting the software handle the day-to-day operation of your business.
Moving major operations to the cloud saves on storage space in general and allows for more accessibility across a wider range of systems. This means easier sharing of project data, business strategies, financial records, and any other important and pertinent data.
Let’s get this out of the way, NetSuite is a huge platform, with LOTS of capabilities, all of which are meant to help your business function, improve and grow.
If you’re wanting to advance your business to the cloud and make use of a platform like NetSuite, then the major mistake to avoid is partial implementation. Utilizing only part of what it is meant for or leaving parts of your business out of the loop so to speak will only diminish the returns and defeats the purpose of using NetSuite in the first place.
A lot of times this happens because of trouble with the initial changeover to cloud-based computing which can be understandable in a sense but is not something that should stop you from fully integrating NetSuite. In terms of logistics, there are excellent customer service and support options available with NetSuite to help get you set up.
Other times, it can be a problem with different sections of the business falling behind in updating to the new system or downright refusing to switch over. In these cases, it’s best to force compliance.
Imagine, for example, that you have all marketing data, business reports, inventory, and warehousing records switched over to NetSuite and when it’s time to pay the bills, things hit a roadblock because accounting is the one area that is not integrated into the new system.
You can understand what a logistical nightmare this would be for any business. That’s why we recommend getting everyone on board before beginning the actual implementation process.
This leads us straight into our second mistake to avoid, forcing NetSuite implementation rapidly. We know, we just got through telling you about full compliance and getting everyone on board, but that doesn’t mean you need to go shoehorning NetSuite functionality everywhere all at once.
Much like forcing your foot into a shoe that’s 2 sizes too small, trying to force your business into the cloud can be uncomfortable and ultimately cost you more money.
You should first be focused on getting each part of your business on board with the idea of implementing NetSuite, then creating a staged plan for that implementation. Unfortunately for those less tech-savvy entrepreneurs, this isn’t going to be like updating your smartphone to the latest software version.
Converting will generally mean a bit more than just purchasing the software license. It may mean acquiring new computer systems, learning new programs and features as well as training employees on the interface, and sharing data across departments.
Much of this process takes time as there may be a bit of a learning curve for businesses that are new to the cloud spaces or for departments that aren’t used to handling their part of the business in this manner.
That’s why a proper strategy can be your best friend when upgrading to NetSuite.
As we said earlier, NetSuite is massive in terms of what it can do for your business. This means that there are a lot of things that it can help you do to make your business grow. This doesn’t mean you need every single thing that it offers, but it does mean that you need to make the most of the components that are right for you.
The cost of subscription for NetSuite will vary based on several factors, but at its core, there are a few features that every business should have.
The ledger and financial management tools are a must for any business and should be a part of the program that you embrace fully.
Other features will depend highly on your type of business, but to give a brief breakdown and help with understanding, we’ll discuss 3 more pertinent categories in greater detail.
Of course, this shouldn’t need to be said, but we’ll say it anyway, when we say development customization, we don’t mean rewriting the code for NetSuite to make it do exactly what you want it to do (which is possible) we mean hand-selecting the features and options you want to put to use for your business. NetSuite is a powerful tool and one that you should let work for you.
For businesses that rely on constant communication with clients and customers or for those that do a lot of business through networks like Linkedin, the core CRM features of NetSuite can be a great added benefit to your company.
The customer and contact management features alone are worth their weight, but the ability to add competitor tracking, campaign management, and Salesforce automation features makes this a must for prioritizing leads, developing new business, and getting the most out of your sales and marketing teams.
This is something that even growing businesses can benefit from as the features let you get started on the right foot managing business contacts, potential leads, and other information while doing whatever it is you do.
For larger businesses and enterprises, these features help streamline much of the day to day operational tasks that big business has to deal with. This can, in turn, free up team members and revenue for other, more important tasks.
These tools and features are excellent for any online business. For starters, the multi-language integration features make it possible to do business with a broader range of customers, especially in places where the business is normally mono-linguistic. This will give you an edge over competitors.
The third-party seller integrations combined with customer acquisition enhancement can mean much more business and more products on your site. You’ll be able to grow your customer base and boost your access to products at the same time.
There are also features that allow for customer and partner self-service as well as help to continuously meet PCI compliance standards, something that is important for the safety and security of any eCommerce business.
While not necessary for every business, these features make it much easier and simpler to do business and custom development as an eCommerce site. Being able to enhance the user experience while delivering more payment options in more languages and with more security means higher overall customer retention and profits.
A major part of what NetSuite does is Enterprise Resource Planning. This means providing solutions for the operation of business via multifaceted cloud-based technological support.
The B2B and B2C capabilities that NetSuite provides help to improve communication and service to customers.
Inventory and Order management features allow your business to stay on top of what they have, what they need, and what’s been ordered. One of the main ways this can enhance your business is through the ability to forecast projected needs and track the availability of goods and services.
It also helps to eliminate waste. By being able to track and catalog orders efficiently, it is easier to manage supplies and other necessities and easier to negotiate with suppliers when there’s a discrepancy.
Drop Shipment and Special Order integration allow for quick delivery of products to customers without necessarily keeping the product on hand. In many cases, businesses will keep low supply to reduce production costs and rely on drop shipping to meet orders.
Vendor record-keeping is another safeguard against order discrepancy on the part of the business. Vendors can be short, deliver damaged goods, or have items discontinued. The integrated record keeping allows for less waste when making purchases and helps to alleviate issues that arise.
Like we mentioned earlier with customization, trying to build in your own code or make alterations to NetSuite is not a good idea. There are a number of features within NetSuite that are automated.
The idea is to let NetSuite do its thing and use what you need from it when you need it. This sounds simple, and in theory, it is. The problem is that NetSuite has so many components and features, that if you try to dive straight into all of them, you’ll like find even the most experienced business person would be overwhelmed.
Stick with the plan, decide what features you need, and integrate them at a steady pace while making sure everyone is compliant. This way you get what you need at a reasonable rate and reduce overall stress on the different sectors of your business.
Starting to use a new system, regardless of how large or small can be a bit of a shock to some businesses. It can feel like you’re lost in a sea of new technological components and features and that it would be much simpler to do things the way you used to. After all, there was nothing wrong with the way things were going right?
Oh, wait, no, you got NetSuite to enhance your business. That means letting it do what it’s supposed to do and learning as you go.
Everyone expects there to be a bit of time getting used to everything, so take the time and let NetSuite work for you. It comes out of the box with great features and only gets better as you learn to use it.
This is one that’s going to cover a couple of things that need to be understood with implementing NetSuite. Straightaway you’ll find that NetSuite throws a lot of information your way in the form of reports.
This is coupled with the problem of trying to migrate over all your old data, history records, and reports prior to using NetSuite.
To make it easier on yourself, especially in the beginning, do two things. First, migrate over all your relevant history data before you start fully utilizing NetSuite. We see relevant information because we don’t think you’ll need the expense reports for lunch from ten years ago (unless you’re being audited, then by all means). This saves you the headache of trying to manage old data and new reports coming in at the same time.
Secondly, focus only on basic reports or reports that you need presently. Trying to absorb all the information that NetSuite has to give you right off the bat will likely overwhelm you and have you trying to trash your computer.
It should be considered a slow build towards taking in as much information as possible and processing it into a usable form.
Much like how we talked about there being a learning curve to using NetSuite as part of your business, expect there to be a time gap between full, live implementation and improvement in the various areas of your business.
We would say, give it at least 6 months after you go live with NetSuite before expecting any noticeable changes.
By all rights, you should spend a good while during the implementation process learning the tools and features, testing out different strategies and reports, and seeing how everything works before you ever go live. Even once you do though, it will take time to obtain measurable results.
Like we said in the beginning, let it work and wait on the results to roll in. Even if, after 6 months, the results aren’t as spectacular as you’d like, let it settle for a while and keep going. You’ll find that the longer you use NetSuite and the more accustomed your business gets to use it for day-to-day operations.
Well, there you have it. Our guide to NetSuite, what it does for your business, and 6 key mistakes to avoid in order to get the most out of it.
The opportunities to enhance your business with NetSuite are almost limitless, but having the right mindset as well as the proper preparation and follow-through will take you a long way towards using it to its fullest potential and getting the most out of NetSuite for your business.
Our final tip is to take it slow and build, just like many of us did with our own businesses.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.