What is our primary use case?
This review was written in 2018 - See Update Below: We just brought up a pharma manufacturer client on NetSuite. They do contract manufacturing, and while they technically hold the 'manufacturer of record' with the FDA, it is essentially a distribution effort. The actual drug records are held by the CMO (contract manufacturing organization) and the traceability is done by the 3PL (third-party logistics) operations.
2019 Update: NetSuite for Pharma has really expanded - conquering the validation hurdle that kept pharma companies out of a cloud based program that updates every 6 months has been solved! More current info on the ERPodcast here: https://profitfromerp.com/erpr...
How has it helped my organization?
NetSuite offers a great many advantages, including a cost of about third of the traditional pharma manufacturing ERP packages. As long as the pharma group is doing CMO manufacturing and 3PL distribution, NetSuite is a great solution, fast to bring up and makes everyone's life easier.
What is most valuable?
Most pre-commercial, pre-IPO pharma developments are running on QuickBooks, which is fine for early stages. This is not so good when you get into SEC reporting, advanced analytics, what-if projections for lifecycle, and acquisition decision-making, along with the historic providers of pharma ERP: SAP, Oracle, MS Dynamics AX, Lawson, etc. are million dollar investments (granted), and if actual manufacturing is present, these are all excellent solutions.
For a niche pharmaceutical, that is always going to have a moderate volume with outsourced manufacturing, NetSuite has a ton of advantages. More emerging pharma companies are going this route for these reasons: Lowers costs, produces higher efficiencies, while maintaining a leaner staff and produces advanced financials. It is all there.
What needs improvement?
There is not a 20 year pedigree of pharma experience in the NetSuite channel. While there are many of these CMO Pharma companies rapidly moving to NetSuite, there are few consultants with true pharma experience. Those who have experience are stretched pretty thin. If you are planning to go this route, you should engage a consulting firm that has brought up several different ERP products to fill this knowledge gap and connect you with teams that have actual experience.
For how long have I used the solution?
Three to five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
No issues, and it is much more scalable than QuickBooks.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
We previously used Quickbooks. We have moved away from the challenges of handling a public company (SEC reporting) and a commercial enterprise.
How was the initial setup?
There are complexities, and many of them are avoidable with an established consulting team.
What about the implementation team?
Vendor Team. They could have more pharma experience. However, we found that a certified team of consultants avoids many of our issues. NetSuite is too broad for one person to understand all the different areas. We used two consultants for data uploads, a senior consultant for general setup, project accounting consultant, supply chain consultant, and integration consultant to connect with CMOs and 3PLs. Each played a small part in the implementation and our 90 day (this is extremely quick, not recommended) implementation, which came in under budget, because a dedicated data import specialist takes fewer hours than a generalist to do the same task.
What was our ROI?
Maintaining a lean organization and streamlining approval processes, business workflow, and connecting to outside vendors for inventory and supply chain efficiency.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Do not try to go it alone. Get a consultant who has been there and listens.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We evaluated MS Dynamics AX, Dynamics 365, Ross, and Sage X3.
What other advice do I have?
For a full Guide to Pharmaceutical startups, podcast version here https://profitfromerp.com/podc...
and Blogpost here: https://profitfromerp.com/erp-...
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Software selection, implementation, and monetization consulting.