2022 NetSuite Implementation Guide

NetSuite implementation is not a one-size-fits-all process.

Before getting into NetSuite implementation, your business needs to adequately prepare and understand what’s involved.

The more informed everyone is, the higher the chance of a successful implementation.

We’ve helped clients of all sizes and industries successfully implement NetSuite, and we want to share everything you need to know before starting the process. Read through our NetSuite implementation guide, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you still have questions! 

What is NetSuite?

A critical component of NetSuite implementation is, of course, understanding what NetSuite is.

NetSuite is an integrated suite of diverse software applications that can handle virtually all business processes.

United by a single data source, NetSuite includes:

  • PSA (Professional Services Automation)
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • eCommerce
  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
  • Financial software

While implementing NetSuite is simpler than installing each application individually — such as one application for CRM, another for ERP, a third for financials, etc. — it’s still a complex process.

For the exceptional benefits it offers, implementing NetSuite is most definitely worth the investment.

What is NetSuite Implementation?

NetSuite implementation is the process of designing, configuring, customizing, integrating, testing, and going live with NetSuite.

The process also includes post-implementation support, such as training employees on how to use the software, and providing any additional assistance needed.

One of the biggest misconceptions about NetSuite implementation is that it’s easy.

If you’re less familiar with business software and similar programs, it might seem odd to put so much emphasis on implementation. The crucial thing to realize, however, is that implementing advanced cloud-based applications is not as simple as clicking “download”.

According to Gartner, an analyst firm, almost 75% of ERP implementations fail. 

Why? It mostly boils down to lack of preparation, choosing the wrong implementation partner, or incorrect budgeting. This guide will help you prepare for the implementation and go-live process.

Once your business is officially ready to onboard NetSuite, it’s time to start planning it all out. The first step is choosing how you’re going to implement the software.

NetSuite Implementation Options

You have a few different NetSuite implementation options: going directly through NetSuite, hiring a NetSuite implementation partner, or trying to do it yourself.

Here’s a breakdown of each avenue for implementing NetSuite and how to pick the right one for your business.

Directly Through NetSuite

NetSuite offers its own implementation services. With this method, you’ll work with a team at NetSuite to help you set up the software.

Pros of Working Directly Through NetSuite:

You’re working directly with the source of the software, so they should understand it the best. Plus, you know you’re working with a legitimate company that cares about the success of your implementation.

However, they might not always have in-depth knowledge of the platform like dedicated NetSuite professionals do.

Cons of Working Directly Through NetSuite:

You don’t get to meet your implementation team before you purchase NetSuite, so you have the luck of the draw on who is assigned to your project. When shopping around with NetSuite Solution Providers, you can really get a feel for who you’d be working with, who would be on your implementation team, and make sure it’s a personality and business fit.

Choosing to work directly through NetSuite might not be the best for a business with complex processes or advanced customization needs. NetSuite also doesn’t provide super in-depth post-implementation training services.

In that case, a third-party NetSuite partner might be the best implementation partner — they tend to have more experience with advanced customizations, and likely have their own suite of pre-built, easy-to-install integrations.

Third-Party NetSuite Solutions Provider

The next option is choosing a licensed NetSuite solutions provider. There are many different third-party NetSuite providers out there — make sure you choose one that’s certified by Oracle NetSuite (like the team at SCS Cloud!).

Pros of Using a Third-Party NetSuite Partner:

These providers offer advanced customizations, flexibility, and usually provide more effort and attention to your team than if you purchased implementation services directly through NetSuite.

Plus, many third-party providers have created their own suite of NetSuite solutions that can be added with the click of a button rather than paying for additional custom development work.

Cons of Using a Third-Party NetSuite Partner:

Not all NetSuite solutions providers are created equal. Make sure to choose a provider that’s licensed, has a solid track record of successful implementations, and is able to dedicate the necessary time and attention to your implementation process.

For example, SCS Cloud is a licensed NetSuite Solution Provider and recipient of a five-star service award from Oracle NetSuite in 2021.

We also have a case studies section where you can read about how our NetSuite implementation services helped our clients optimize business operations and revenue.

Implementing NetSuite Yourself

The third and final option is implementing NetSuite yourself. While it’s technically possible, we don’t recommend this method. NetSuite implementation isn’t something to be taken lightly, especially if you don’t have experience implementing cloud software or migrating data.

Pros of Implementing NetSuite Yourself:

While it might seem like you’re saving money by trying self-implementation, you will probably end up having to hire professionals to help you out anyway.

Cons of Implementing NetSuite Yourself:

Unless you have extensive experience with successful cloud software customization, integration, and deployment, we recommend avoiding this method.

ERP implementation failure is common, and it can have dire consequences for the business.

From millions in lost sales, losing important data, and failing to merge business processes, side effects of a failed implementation have happened to even large organizations with a lot of budget to work with.

How Much Does it Cost to Implement NetSuite?

The cost of NetSuite implementation can range from $10,000 for a quick start implementation to $100,000+ for a mid-size company or even $1,000,000+ for a larger rollout with hundreds of users.

It all depends on the scope of the discovery and research phase, your specific needs, the size of your company, how much data needs to be migrated, and the training needed for employees. NetSuite pricing varies and implementation is just one aspect of the full cost.

Can I Implement NetSuite Myself?

While you technically can implement NetSuite on your own, we highly recommend against it! Do-it-yourself NetSuite Implementation can end up having disastrous results.

While it’s possible to plug and play simple software like Microsoft Word, NetSuite is a nuanced cloud-computing powerhouse program. In the wrong hands, implementation can go terribly wrong, from mistyped codes to destroyed data to improper instructions on using the software.

For a simple, effective implementation that delivers the results you want from your NetSuite setup, professional implementation is a must.

NetSuite Implementation: 11 Basic Steps

Now it’s time to break down what NetSuite implementation requires. Setting up this high-caliber suite of business software usually incorporates the following steps.

This is how we approach each NetSuite implementation project at SCS Cloud.

Design Phase

The design phase is crucial to the success of your NetSuite implementation project. Before any software installation occurs, it’s important to fully understand the business’ requirements.

On the business end, you need to designate a liaison to coordinate with the team that’s going to be installing NetSuite and make sure you have experts from each internal team to provide feedback throughout the NetSuite implementation process.

1. Discovery & Research

Discovery and research involve:

  • Understanding business flows and processes
  • Having a clear picture of business goals and needs
  • You and your team learning the essentials of the software
  • Purchasing any complementary hardware
  • Preparing your project management team
  • Organizing your operations in advance for the software transition

If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry! The SCS Cloud team will aid you in making such preparations.

Designate a Project Lead

The first thing to do for any new software implementation is to name the individual responsible for leading the project. 

Depending on the size of your organization, there may be a team with representation from each department involved in the project. The project still needs a decision-making-empowered point of communication, or project lead.

That project leader will be responsible for:

  • Supervising the information gathering stage related to the project
  • Overseeing the project proposal
  • Communicating internally with the project team and any other interested persons
  • Communicating externally with a software development team/your NetSuite consulting team
  • Coordinating throughout the project for smooth and rapid resolution of any problems
  • (In most cases) Scheduling of any meetings related to the software project and otherwise administrating the implementation period

In small businesses, the person in charge of the implementation may be the business owner.  In larger businesses with their own IT department, a senior-level IT resource may head up the implementation.

Note: Regardless of size, if a business has an IT department, they should be involved in the software project throughout the entire process, as they may become system administrators for the new system.

Involve Those Familiar with End-User Processes

A strong software implementation team will have those familiar with end-user processes connected to the project, not just those who oversee IT functions in a business.

Otherwise, important end-user functions can go missing in the setup of new features. The project leader must also have the authority to mobilize the necessary resources to keep the project rolling.

Another important feature of anyone on the team is to be focused on function over form.

In practice, this means that workflows and problems getting tackled are more important than specific features or procedures. That mentality, when held by the project team, will help everyone solve existing problems without creating new ones.

2. Fully Understand Requirements & Integrations

Next, our team will outline a full business requirements document to ensure we will meet all of your business needs, workflows, and processes.

We will also analyze your current systems’ weaknesses and benefits. This helps us weigh your needs against NetSuite’s capabilities in order to determine your software requirements and optimize your implementation.

During this stage, we also finalize the best course of action for your NetSuite integration with existing software and legacy systems. 

This is where we will determine whether you need custom NetSuite development work, individual installations of NetSuite add-ons, or other third-party integrations.

Setup & Build Phase

Now that the full scope and requirements of the project have been determined, the actual installation can begin. As with any large project, the installation and customization happen in phases.

3. Initial Setup

This step involves getting access to NetSuite logins for your users. While it may require some work with hardware, NetSuite is a cloud-based suite, so most of this will focus on using the web browser to access the system remotely.

4. Configuration of NetSuite

Once NetSuite has been installed, our team will begin creating your configuration within the software.

This typically entails enabling setting, configuring fields and forms, building workflows, creating user logins, migrating data, and other such activities.

5. Initial Build and Walkthroughs

Taking setup a step further, our team of cloud specialists will start running the necessary changes to make your NetSuite system begin to take shape. 

At this stage, the implementation team will begin walkthroughs of the system to validate the configuration to see how it suits you and begin learning its intuitive interface.

6. NetSuite Customization

One of NetSuite’s numerous advantages is its customizability. At this point in your implementation, we will arrange your applications according to your specifications and deploy the features we have developed just for your business. Any custom scripting or workflows will be built and implemented to automate processes, integrate with other systems, or align configuration precisely to your business processes.

We will work closely with you during this step to verify that your NetSuite system does everything you need it to.

7. Full-Scale Testing

At this point, your NetSuite system will be nearly complete. Next, you will test it out, trying its myriad of operations and providing feedback to us. This User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phase and the identification and handling of all open issues is critical to a successful launch.

This will allow our team to quickly identify and remedy any issues, as well as enhancing your favorite features. It will also be educational for your team as they become accustomed to the application.

8. Final Configuration Adjustments

During this step, our team will ensure that your system is completely suited to your specifications and that your various applications are entirely interoperable, as they are designed to be.

We can also make sure that NetSuite interacts appropriately with any other systems your company wants to run. Although this software suite should cover the vast majority of your operational needs, many of our clients make good use of additional reporting tools, dashboard applications, and software of this nature.

On-Going Adjustments & Education

Once we set NetSuite live, we enter the final phase of NetSuite implementation: optimizing the software as needed and making sure all staff is fully trained.

9. Company-Wide Training

Once it is fully set up, configured, personalized, investigated, and integrated, our team of experienced educators will teach you and your staff how to use NetSuite

While NetSuite was built to be user-friendly, it’s always helpful to have a hands-on tutorial as you get used to your new, faster, streamlined workflow.

10. Go-Live

At this point, your NetSuite system will be completely ready to go.  After a series of activities cutting over from your previous system to NetSuite you will now be live in the new system and operational.  You and your employees will start to use it in your day-to-day practices, seeing for yourselves what it can do and making sure all of your business processes run smoothly.

11. Make Optimizations as Needed

Typically, our implementation clients do not require significant modification to their NetSuite system after we’ve delivered it, but generally there are additional optimizations and enhancements that can be beneficial to the ongoing business.  We make ourselves available for alterations to make sure the implementation is absolutely flawless.

Also, another great aspect of NetSuite is that it’s 100% scalable and adaptable to any new business ventures. This software can grow with you, whether that means accomodating a larger sales volume or international expansions.

This is the general procedure our implementation team goes through when implementing NetSuite. Of course, we cater to each of our unique client’s particular preferences, so your company’s implementation process may vary.

SCS Cloud: Your NetSuite Implementation Consultants

SCS Cloud’s team of experts are here to help you with your NetSuite implementation. Contact us today to learn more about this service and schedule your FREE consultation.

NetSuite Implementation Checklist

A Budget and Estimated Timeline

Unforeseen circumstances can pop up during the implementation process. For example, maybe the team forgot to account for certain workflows or specific business needs weren’t accurately defined.

Regardless of the reason, you need to have an established budget and timeline. It’s also important to have estimates for how comfortable you are going over budget or past the expected go-live date.

Make Sure Everyone is 100% On Board

One of the most important aspects of a successful NetSuite Implementation is buy-in: everyone needs to get on board with the upgrade.  

In some businesses, buy-in comes very easily and naturally — everyone is just excited about new, faster, better, easier streamlined technology. For others, that transition sounds frightening, or there is concern over the learning curve, change in procedure, or other worries.

From account managers to executives, having everyone on board means end-users have the willingness to learn a new tool and adapt workflow, while executives will sign off on the necessary budget.

Transparency in Implementation

Professional NetSuite consultants are skilled in process analysis. Their singular objective is a successful implementation that will leave every member and every level of any size business empowered to perform their daily jobs better than before.

But throughout the implementation plan, walkthroughs, and tests, it is normal to experience a few bumps in the road. The size of those bumps can have a great deal to do with the mindset of everyone involved.

Here’s an example scenario: Knowing a certain internal function related to purchase orders, but then failing to see that function in a walkthrough of the system, the team member could either:

  1. Freak out and say, “This is never going to work.”
  2. Say nothing to the implementation team, but sulk away and feel resentful.
  3. Calmly and clearly voice the needed feature, thereby determining if it is really missing or just missed.

If your implementation team is thinking with problem-solving, options 1 and 2 would never occur, but option 3 might more than once.

What you need to maintain during the full implementation is transparency: open and honest communication about needs, expectations, cooperation, and changes. 

So, throughout the implementation process, as needs are voiced, the plan can evolve to fill all of those needs. With that transparent communication will come the best possible project solutions.

An Ongoing Relationship with Your Implementation Partner

Once a new system has been implemented, the implementation team does not immediately dissolve. Two major actions still occur: monitored engagement and optimization.

An optimization plan will include the approach for ongoing support and training.

Depending on the size of your organization, it is often a good idea to name one “expert” within each department. While all end-users would, ideally, receive an intro software orientation and training session, a more technologically-inclined individual, with end-user expertise, can be a great resource in an individual department.

Some businesses elect to have an individual from each department formally receive additional training, to be that internal resource.  Some businesses focus more heavily on managers, IT professionals, or system administrators. There is no “right way” to name and train those individuals. It depends entirely on business functions and interactions.

For example, in some businesses the sales team literally never interacts, so having one “expertly trained” software resource within the sales team may not be as effective as training the sales manager or an IT professional to be the resource for the sales team.

In another example, the accounting department may have an individual who just has a knack for technology. That individual may be a better resource, if trained to that more “expert” level than an IT professional, since the accounting person may be more familiar with the details of reports and functions (such as taxation) within the accounting department.

Smooth Implementation Requires Teamwork 

A successful NetSuite implementation can be a quick, smooth, fearless process when we all work together. 

We are committed to not only a successful implementation process, but also the long-term success of your business. When we all work together to streamline workflows, imagine superior performance metrics, and generate a seamless implementation, we make it possible to fly into the cloud and soar for many years to come.

We Provide the Custom Solution to Grow Your Company

With thoughtful planning, we create the perfect NetSuite solution for your business and speedily bring you up to the point where you can go live with the software. The technology behind cloud applications makes them generally easy to integrate, and our team focuses on making an otherwise complex process simple and efficient.

One of our most popular platforms is NetSuite, for all of its fantastic benefits. In fact, it has been installed with over 30,000 companies. With our NetSuite implementation services, we’ll not only make sure everything is running smoothly before we leave you to your own devices, our certified NetSuite consultants remain available to you for any questions afterward.

Suite Success +

Our Netsuite Implementation Methodology


REQUIREMENTS PHASE

Obstacle:

Don’t have a clear idea of the technology needs for the business.

Process:

Alignment sessions to understand business needs, flows, and processes.

Deliverable:

Business Requirements Document (BRD). This document lists out the company requirements.

ANALYSIS/BLUEPRINT PHASE – FRONT-END

Obstacle:

Don’t have set processes or workflows. Don’t have a clear idea of the technology and leading practices that will handle their issues.

Process:

Personalization Sessions. Deep dive into every facet of the business to prepare the exact specifications.

Deliverable:

Blueprint of processes and the technology needed.

IMPLEMENTATION/BUILD PHASE

Obstacle:

Don’t have a team or the skillset to implement NetSuite. Don’t know how to automate processes and don’t have the knowledge or experience to configure technology.

Process:

Consultants and developers work in conjunction to configure and automate processes with built-in leading practices.

Deliverable:

Walkthroughs, user acceptance testing, go-live.

STABILIZATION/MOVE-IN PHASE

Obstacle:

Moving off the old technology smoothly into new technology.

Process:

Launching the new technology smoothly through standard go-live processes driven by experienced consultants.

Deliverable:

Automated processes resulting in fewer manual processes, time saved, and reduction of human error. Expansion without adding headcount.

ACCELERATE/EXPANSION PHASE

Obstacle:

Once the new system is live, new business needs or problems arise. The new technology allows for new projects and additions to further expand functionality.

Process:

Consultants and developers work together using existing knowledge of the business to determine how best to streamline as the business expands.

Deliverable:

New functionality, features, and modules launched to make the organization operate more efficiently.

Ready to Get Started with NetSuite Implementation?

Making an investment in NetSuite is a big decision. To ensure it’s as successful as possible for your business, it’s important to work with a team of certified NetSuite experts. SCS Cloud provides NetSuite implementation and consulting services so your NetSuite deployment is seamless from start to finish.

We’d love to help you discover what NetSuite can do to improve your business.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation!

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