NetSuite ERP Review

Good scalability, a nice user interface, and helpful technical support

What is our primary use case?

The client's use cases really revolve around core financial and accounting tasks such as ARAPGL cash management and things of that nature as well as some supply chain. Inventory management at a rolled-up level. They had a separate system for their core product inventory life cycle management, however, this was from the financial aspect and vendor integration and purchasing side of supply chain and billing management was going to be done through the NetSuite implementation. 

Due to the fact that they had more on their wishlist, we were going to get into some commerce stuff, however, we backlogged that. CRM is what they're actually going to start on next year. We backlogged that as well. I'm all about focusing. I'm really about accounting. The initial high-level inventory management is the core thing we deployed as part of the first phase.

How has it helped my organization?

The client saw a lot of elimination of manual steps that they were doing in their old system. The acceptance of a lot of best practices made even just basic monthly closing a lot simpler and a lot quicker. They went from taking almost three and a half weeks to do a monthly close to five to seven business days.

That time savings alone, there's cost value there from a human resource standpoint.

What is most valuable?

The user interface is very good. That is extremely important when you're making and implementing change. A good, intuitive user interface and good documentation from a standpoint for training and support is super-important. The accounting functions are pretty basic and this was pretty standard. 

While more customization on the cloud would be nice, it forced years of bad practices that were exceptions or custom ways of doing things. 

The solution lends itself to scalability. 

There's good integration with other products. 

It's perfect for a company that is growing, that's still on the border of small to midsize. It fits perfectly from a cost and functionality perspective of them trying to get to standard practices that allows them to grow efficiently. They can take on a new business without adding people.

What needs improvement?

The cloud version lacked the flexibility for some customization. That would've been nice, however, it also then forced us to get out of some bad practices. It really helps you, actually, as it's not as necessarily flexible in terms of customizations, at least the version we worked with. They were working towards improving it.

Some of the features around the payroll and payroll taxes and management of that are lacking. We had to outsource some of that because we found that the functionality isn't there. This has been one of the bugaboos in that product. If the company grows into a lot more markets in terms of the business states and regions, they would need to look at maybe an alternate product for the sales tax and use tax compliance, as that area has gotten more complex in the last few years with the change in laws. NetSuite is well-suited for that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for over 15 years at this point. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is pretty stable. It's a tried and true product. It's going to the cloud that's different. By the time we went live, we were two releases behind the current release and so we didn't really have to worry about bugs. It was more stable at that point. At the same time, we were sandboxing with a newer version. I got the client on a cadence to catch up at least one version or stay one version behind the current. They've gotten better at responding quickly to critical bug fixes as well. Oracle may have just had some resource constraints or focus constraints on how they were responding.

At the time of deployment, they were going through a lot of technical issues with the Fusion product that was diverting resources off of NetSuite. Again, because they've got such a product suite, resources are sometimes very fixed or it's hard to scale up quickly and get the right people on board. I got the sense that they had teams focused across multiple products.

That said, stability-wise, it was pretty stable when we went live. Overall from a product standpoint, from a performance standpoint of the Oracle cloud, there was definitely some issues that they were experiencing. However, based on my regular contact with his client over the last eight, nine months, post-implementation, things have improved as Oracle was already on a path to upgrading their data centers. 

With my prior client in 2018, I was involved in a lot of Oracle products at that time. Oracle had started down the path of pushing clients onto newer equipment, newer systems, and even transferring them into newer updated data centers. It doesn't happen overnight, however. They've been strategically doing that since late 17, all the way through this year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is one of the areas of limitation, as it's not designed for the larger, more complex businesses or businesses that grow out of being a small regional player into a super-regional type of organization. 

With the improvements in the cloud product it's possible to move to another Oracle product such as the Fusion more easily. In that respect, once you get a certain level or need certain functionality, the ability to move from a NetSuite to Oracle Fusion now is much easier to do from the cloud.

Our clients are mixed organizations. Most are in the mid to large size company. I'm talking in the hundred millions into billions. I've had quite a few clients that are four billion-plus.

How are customer service and technical support?

Early on, the response was critical. There are those bugs or fixes that they'll get to that aren't impacting your businesses versus extremely critical bugs. Fields won't accept the value that needs to accept the value, or it's not calculating something correctly that's very obvious, for example. Responding to critical bugs was the initial problem. We felt it was putting clients at risk due to the fact that there wasn't a workaround. We were worried about going live with these particular bugs. Fortunately, they were able to resolve them.

I was able to escalate it enough and had enough connection, a good rapport with the Oracle leadership, for what we needed to do, that they acknowledged, "Our resources were pulled away on this. And we're getting somebody to specifically address these and look into it." And so they don't wait for the regular release packages. They made available a patch that we could deploy. They had them deploy it into the Oracle cloud. That's the other thing - you're directly engaged when Oracle manages your service in their cloud. Their team can deploy it whenever you say go. And so, because we were still in the test environment, we could get that in, and retest things. It was later than we liked, however, it still allowed us to go live. We were able to get it in and test it before we went live.

Overall, I'd say we are mostly satisfied with the level of support we receive and I would rate it eight out of ten.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

While we looked at other solutions, we didn't deploy any others with this particular client.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup has improved. Concerning what I know about it from 15 years ago to now, it's fairly straightforward. It's a lot more streamlined. There are not as many customizations you can do. You can create a few fields and add things here and there, however, when it comes to really create custom processes it forces you to use workflows and things like that. It's simpler in that it provides a lot more visibility to the business of how their processes work.

What other advice do I have?

I've had multiple engagements involving NetSuite as it is a good sweet spot system for mid-level size enterprises. I don't recommend it for large-scale enterprises. It's also too much sometimes for small companies. It's a great sweet spot, like I said, for mid-level companies. A lot of companies have been on it and sometimes they make good candidates as people who don't feel comfortable with some of the extra bells and whistles. It's a good, basic, fundamental ERP accounting supply planning system.

I'm not sure which version of the solution I'm using right now. I know it wasn't the latest as I'm not a fan of going right away to the latest and greatest typically due to the fact that there are some bugaboos that have to be worked on.

Companies want you to get on the latest system. However, another reason we don't choose the latest was once we went through a build and deployed a model with an 8 UAT, by the time we were ready to go live, they had already released another version. We held off due to the fact that we were comfortable with what we tested. 

While we started using on-premises deployment models, we also now work with the cloud. 

Oracle's done a good job, especially lately. I did a major Oracle project a few years ago where their cloud infrastructure was still a little slow performance-wise, compared to, hosting on Amazon or AWS. However, Oracle's really improved that. Especially in the last year, they've really upgraded their infrastructure center. The performance of NetSuite on the cloud is pretty good now. You can still get that on an on-prem type implementation or a cloud. My last deployment actually happened to be on the cloud. That's another reason we stayed with an early version, The client was still getting their feet wet with NetSuite in the cloud at the time.

I would advise others to be detailed in how they assess their needs to make sure that is the right fit for the company's size, not only for now but over the next five years. A company needs to ask itself: What are the business' growth plans? If you're shortsighted and go into it, where you're already at the top end of the capabilities, then you're losing your investment value. Also, it will be more time and effort to set it up, when you should really be picking either the next product up or a different vendor at the outset.

Overall, it's quite a good solution. I'd rate it nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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