What is our primary use case?
We use the solution to run our entire organization from beginning to end. We started with the CRM for opportunities and leads prospects. We also customized it with custom fields to make separate line items and then used that to spit out reports on calculations of gross margin expected based on those opportunities.
We could have multiple line items underneath specific opportunities as the opportunity information's collected at the header level. We would generate sales orders based on approved quotations and a customer PO and we would put in a sales order. The way we configured it was just before we put the sales order in, we would enter all the item information. We would go into the item master, set it up with the associated vendor who was going to provide that material. That way, when you put the sales order in and you selected that item, and you completed and saved it, it would automatically generate the purchase orders without having to reenter all that information.
How has it helped my organization?
The product would see the sales order, understand the requirement, and it would generate demand, and then generate purchase orders. It could also generate work orders if it had a labor component associated with it. From the work order, you could generate POs. Basically, it saved a lot of redundant entries from that perspective. It saved us time and allowed for customizations that helped us with workflows.
In the sales orders, we were able to create custom fields so that we could measure our performance against promise dates. What we did was we created custom fields and there was some scripting behind that, which is one of the reasons we used NetSuite. We could put in the customer's original expected date, what our promise date was, and then measure against how we performed.
If that date was missed, we could then, in a third data field, put in the new date and a reason code. We made that mandatory, so that this way if any dates changed, we knew why. We were able to measure vendor performance against those dates, customer changes against those dates, and our performance against those dates. It was very helpful from that perspective. Having good dates allowed us to also do better cash projections in terms of shipments and invoicing.
It saves paperwork down the line. The only purchase orders that had to be done by purchasing were those that were planned. We had ongoing projects, yet only the planned orders needed to be purchased. Rather than reduce headcount, we were able to take the buyer who was working on the planned or the non-planned purchases and retrain them as an inventory analyst, so that we could focus more on the planned purchases.
It enabled us to really align the skillsets and the needs that we had as the business evolved as a result of the digital transformation. It really facilitated that ability without having to add headcount. We simply retrained. We didn't need to reduce headcount as all part of a growth strategy.
What I would also add is that it not only saves redundant entry there, but it saves redundant entry as it goes through to the fulfillment side on the logistics as all the information's already there. There's nothing to be reentered. When it comes to the invoicing, again, there's nothing to be reentered. It's all pulled from the sales order. In the end, you have a 360-degree view of all the related documents. Finding related records, POs, sales orders, invoices, fulfillment records was easy due to the fact that they were all connected.
What is most valuable?
It helped reduce redundancies in workflows by at least 25% or so.
It's easy to find records, POCs, sales orders, et cetera, as they are all connected.
We didn't have to add headcount or lose employees. We simply retrained them using this process.
The solution saves us a lot of time. It automates a lot of processes.
It allows us to track every aspect of an order to learn about if we are meeting deadlines and why/why not so we can further adjust our processes.
The solution is very good with integration. We were able to integrate DocuSign with NetSuite. That gave us another layer of automation that allowed us to get digital signatures. We did not have to take a lot of extra steps - such as printing, signing, scanning, reattaching, sending via email, et cetera. The system also allowed us to email automatically directly out of the system. We aren't constantly having to jump out of the system to do other processes. It was all contained and thus the communications stayed with those transactions. It really greases the skids all the way through.
We could work in multicurrency, which is what OneWorld allows you to do. It also allows you to have different setups for different city areas based on the company structure that you use. We were able to add and manage multiple virtual warehouses. You can have as many as you want.
The reporting is user-friendly. You could create any kind of reports you wanted.
The dashboards allow you to have all that information available to you as soon as you log in. For example, in accounting, once fulfillment is done, they know exactly what can be invoiced as it would show up in a saved search list and they knew exactly which ones they could invoice. If you set the dashboards up correctly, it provides that information at a glance along with financial reports and other things that it provides.
The ability to customize it to create custom fields that are reportable, and then to be able to write script behind it to automate other processes that might otherwise be manual is great. For example, we had a situation where there were certain fields that need to be updated as a result of other fields. What we did was we created custom fields so that if that field got updated, a script would run overnight. It got updated and it would go and populate the other field, which would normally have to be a manual process. Instead of having to compare and make updates, the system was doing it automatically, saving additional time. With all that time that we saved, we were able to redeploy to customer-facing activities, which were more important rather than maintenance of the system.
Its ability to maintain those customizations in that scripting, upgrades, and updates to the system notwithstanding, was phenomenal my experience previously was anytime you made customizations and there was an upgrade, things would get wonky. In NetSuite, that doesn't happen as they're upgrading the core functionality and you get that as a user, which they do twice a year. You never have to worry, however, as all your scripts and customizations are never touched. They're not impacted by those changes, which is really a great benefit to anybody who's been down that road.
What needs improvement?
There are different inventory evaluation methods that you can use with NetSuite. It natively does average costs all the time. It does that just fine, however, if you were to use standard costs, it doesn't handle standard costs well. It's not a very sophisticated process handling standard costs. That's one caution I would make. If you're using standard costs, you really have to be very aware of that. This is one of its weaknesses. It does it, but it doesn't do it well.
The other problem that we had, or the other challenge that we had, was some of the MRP functionality was cumbersome. In 2020, the update of NetSuite that took place in September, they addressed a lot of that through the supply chain control tower. That made it more automated. They added a number of automated supply chain features, which supposedly addressed that issue, however, how well it addressed it, I'm not clear.
For how long have I used the solution?
We migrated from a legacy system to NetSuite and we went live on it in my previous company in 2020. I used it for a year after implementing it.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I find it very stable. They come out with a lot of the upgrades on a twice a year basis, March and September, which really address issues that they know that they have. It's a product that continues to improve and get better.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's scalable and I find it to be pretty easy to work with. It's very intuitive, it's easy to navigate, and that helps on the training and adaptability side or adoptability, I should say, due to the fact that most users fight change.
However, when the change is made easy; they adopt it much faster. I would say that a good number of our employees had adopted it very, very quickly.
It's totally scalable. For small to medium-sized businesses, I would say that you can go into this product knowing that you can use it easily for the next five to seven years without issue unless your business model changes dramatically and requires something specialized.
I'd say outside of that, you could easily get into this system and use it for a very, very long time, due to the fact that they just keep improving the product and the features and the benefits from those features are what everybody's looking for, which is probably why it's going in three to one to any other ERP system.
In the last environment I worked with we had about 60 users.
I'm considering using NetSuite in my current company. We have currently about 15 users, which may go to 18 or 19. That said, it's a product that we will never outgrow. No matter how much we grow, we won't outgrow it.
How are customer service and technical support?
I would say technical support is very good. We didn't use it that much due to the fact that we used our integration consultants. We had a number of phases where we were optimizing the system. Therefore, a lot of our support came from them. It was rare when we had to go to NetSuite directly because of that.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We did previously use a different solution. It was a legacy system that we migrated off of.
It was difficult to navigate. Information was hard to find and reports were done in Crystal. Unless you know how to write Crystal Reports, you constantly had to get a consultant to write reports for you. There were no dashboards. It was a client-server product being hosted in the cloud, so it didn't function really well as you also had to host a database. That setup gets clunky, which meant the performance was not great. As a result, trying to get information out, you're constantly having to do VLOOKUPs in Excel to get SQL information out and then massage and change it. It's was just very problematic. That legacy system really had to go. It was very labor-intensive doing any kind of entry. It was just sucking up a lot of time.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was pretty straightforward. Even the customizations that we made, we were able to identify some ahead of time and we incorporated them as part of our implementation right in the live system. I would say, in condensed timing, we were able to migrate from a legacy system and get NetSuite up and running at about seven months, which is outstanding.
Our deployment plan was basically to scrub our existing data. We made sure that we stuck to the scope of the project - the things that we had to have live such as the functionality, the movement of data from one place to the other, making sure that the setups and the reports were there, and that the training and the testing were done. We stuck pretty closely to our strategy and plan for a go-live. Just a couple of days after we moved all of our ending balances from one system into NetSuite, we tied them out as beginning and ending balances. We were able to then start to process.
For the most part, it was good. It wasn't exactly seamless. Everybody says seamless, however, nothing's seamless. It went as well as you can possibly imagine as most of these migrations usually take a year or more. I've been involved in a number of them over the course of time and this was pretty quick. I would also say that our consultants or integrators were very, very good. They were like an extension of us, which was a critical factor.
What about the implementation team?
I handled the implementation of this solution.
I was the VP of operations, so I was also the acting project manager internally. I used a consulting company as my migration folks.
They were excellent and they really helped streamline the process so that we were able to roll out pretty fast. I'm already working with them again on another project. They work well with our team.
What was our ROI?
My previous company definitely saw benefits. Just to know our ability to be able to really change our processes and to establish some discipline within those workflows and all the other benefits made it worth the investment. There's tremendous value in it as a long-term investment. The more you use it, the more you leverage it, the more value you get out of it. That proposition never really ends, it all depends upon if the users and the company really make the most of that solution once they've invested in it. It's an ongoing process; it just doesn't end.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
It's a bit pricey. It's probably at the higher end. I wouldn't say it's exorbitantly expensive, however, it's not inexpensive. It's certainly higher priced than Acumatica. We felt, for what we wanted to do, it was really the best solution and so we were okay with the cost.
They did work with us on price. We got some discounts and we worked through some additional things where we got some additional discounts. They did work with us to improve the cost value proposition. That said, it is still on the higher side of some of those other solutions.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We did look at other solutions before choosing this product.
We looked at Acumatica, which at that time would have been 2019. We felt Acumatica wasn't quite there yet in terms of features and functionality. Although now, I would say that's changed a bit as they've been chasing NetSuite and they've improved a lot. We looked at some other systems such as Epicor, IQMS, we looked at Sage Intacct. We looked at Microsoft Dynamics, as well, however, it's a different kind of a partial solution. It wasn't really the kind of solution that we were looking for.
I'd say Acumatica and NetSuite are very much the same. Customization in Acumatica may be slightly more challenging. One uses the Oracle database, NetSuite, obviously versus Acumatica, which is just an SQL database, which, at the end of the day, makes no big difference. At this particular juncture, there are only very few differences between the Acumatica and NetSuite products. Although at the time, Acumatica wasn't quite there yet in terms of usability, their MRP and demand planning functionality was very cumbersome. The reporting also was not as robust as it is now.
The Acumatica Cloud ERP and NetSuite were pro for the cloud; they were built for the internet. So they work really well because they're native to the cloud. And I think that's probably some of the key reasons as performance matters. People get impatient. It takes minutes to get things done versus seconds. That time matters. That's why the cloud is preferred.
What other advice do I have?
NetSuite by definition is a subscriber, full subscriber cloud product. You can't host it. It's not offered to be hosted on-premise.
I would say most of the users really, really like it. They felt it was a major improvement over what we had previously and the visibility that it provides you with really helps you understand exactly what's being processed in the workflows, which is critical.
I would advise other organizations to make sure it's a good match for your processes. For companies that already have a process that they need to stick with, they need to carefully review the way that the workflows in NetSuite work as they may have to change the way they work versus changing the system to work the way they want to. That's not going to be to everybody, however, a good first step is to really analyze and make sure that it works for you or you can adapt the system. For us, it was a very good match and we were able to make certain customizations that were not crazy, which really helped us a lot. And we wanted some of the discipline that came with a bit of the rigidity that NetSuite can be known for.
If you're not going to use all those features, there are different ways that you can buy NetSuite. You can buy its core and you can bolt other products onto it. It's possible to integrate certain other applications that are specific to, let's say, an Expensify for travel and expense or DocuSign for digitally signing documents, those are all easy integrations. Those kinds of things make the product very attractive as they're not trying to lock out anything; they're actually facilitating it, which is great.
We've been extremely happy with the solution.
I would rate it at a nine out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?