Top 9 mistakes when implementing NetSuite

NetSuite promises a whopping 4% increase in profit, but there are many ways to make it the worst investment ever for your company. We've seen so many companies that have been disappointed with their NetSuite implementation before contacting us. Here's a list of the most common mistakes we see, and how to avoid them. 

Mistake 1: You don't have buy-in from all parties

First of all, you need to have buy-in from everyone. The whole point of NetSuite is to get all of your processes working together within one cloud ERP. If some subsidiary or manager resists the change and insists on continuing with old methods, then everyone will eventually know that, and that will set up the project to fail.

Mistake 2: You try to recreate your old processes

Trying to stick to your old processes will make implementing NetSuite extremely hard. You're investing a considerable amount of money in an ERP, so trust that its out-of-the-box processes are fine-tuned and that you ought to use them.

You might have shaped your old processes based on the limitations of the old software you've used. It might be a so-called inherited process made by someone who used to work at your company, and now no one even knows why it's set up like that in the first place. Think of this as an opportunity to re-imagine how you can do things. This implementation can be refreshing for your team, and it can bring some long-awaited clarity to your processes. Forget those old spreadsheets and get your mindset ready for a new platform that will allow you to expand and automate more than ever before.

Mistake 3: You try to go too far from your old processes

We also see companies that think of their dream case processes and try to implement them right off. This approach might also be prone to fail, as your company simply cannot handle too much change at once. Do you need to integrate all of your systems from the start? If you currently haven't integrated your pipedrive or salesforce with your CRM, then do you really need to do it now? "Poor mans integrations" might still work fine: a simple export and import might do the trick.

It's good to have the long term vision in mind, but start smaller.

A successful approach could be a phased implementation. You could start with the financial processes. Look at your current billing process and think of how you can do it better, implement that then move on to the next process.

Mistake 4: Customizing instead of configuring

Your developers want to write custom code all day, but NetSuite in and of itself has so many native features that can work just as well, if not better than that custom code. Make sure your implementation partner is down to earth and knows how NetSuite works: when you should, and when you shouldn't write custom code. Otherwise, you'll end up reinventing the wheel that already exists in NetSuite. Developing too much customization might even make your NetSuite slower, which will make the user experience worse than it needs to be.

Now there are many cases where you'll need to do some customization but try to first figure out if you can manage with just configuring NetSuite rather than writing custom scripts.

Configuring NetSuite, is straightforward; you can easily configure it to automate processes such as:

  • When you get a purchase from your webshop, add an order to the manufacturing department.
  • When you click save here, calculate the billing schedule.
  • When we get paid too much, send an email to accounting.
  • When X happens, do Y.

Try to use as much of the native features as possible to start with, and customize only what you have to. If you customize too much early on you might not even know what it is you want. You might wish to automate a particular process, like billing customers, for half the customers, not the others. Working the process manually for a while will help you know what you want to automate. But do budget some money for fixing things and automating after about six months of being live.

Mistake 5: Not allocating enough time before go-live

Understand that this is a big project that needs time and resources. Involve your key-people, and allow them to invest time without their everyday work routines weighing on their necks.

We've seen so many companies go live the first day of their busiest month, almost no familiarization with the UI. They usually test all processes right before going live in one 12 hour session. This is wrong for so many reasons. Such a long meeting will be very inefficient, and you can't merely imagine all scenarios at that time. But it gets even worse if the testers don't even know how NetSuite works.

Have your testers have some basic online training so that you know how the navigation and functions work. They should know how to find, edit, save and delete all the entries they will be working with, and how the search functionality works. Once everyone knows the basics, then make sure you help them get started. Instead of just sending them into the world of NetSuite on their own, sit next to them and help them make 20-30 transactions. Put more emphasis on the actual training and the go-live, than testing it.

After having initial training, have the owners of key processes test the actual process in NetSuite. They'll be much better at giving feedback related to the actual process once they know how NetSuite works.

Mistake 6: Migrating the historical data on the go-live day

Another horror story is when companies want to import all of their old data when they go live, instead of importing it partially beforehand.

Your historical data reveals what data has to exist in NetSuite, and your old data structure might also reveal some new aspects that turn in to new requirements. Furthermore, there might be some hidden data-quality issues that you want to address before going live.

We know that you want to see the historical data so that you know who bought what when, and we do recommend bringing in as much historical data as possible, but we recommend doing it beforehand.

Mistake 7: Not pre-defining the reports

In the world of NetSuite where you can have hidden fields, you can have different data showing up based on how the field is filtered for the user.

So one end-user can create a report that works for them, and publish that report. Then the report might show completely different data to some other person, causing them to think that NetSuite has "lost the data".

NetSuite in itself has so many reports, with so many filters, so you might need to get help figuring out what reports are good for you. For example, there are multiple date fields:

  • Shipped date
  • Transaction date
  • Posting date
  • Customer promise date

You need to have some admin that standardizes the report and makes sure that the right date field is used so that the report works for your company.

For the first few weeks, use the basic reports and see how it can work for you. Then if you do want to start customizing, you'll know how it works, and what limitations NetSuite has. Keep in mind that some reports just aren't meant to be there and might be better off in a reporting software such as BiBook.

Mistake 8: Not getting proper help

We've implemented NetSuite to multiple companies on a monthly basis. This is our bread and butter, and we know how NetSuite works in and out. Implementing NetSuite without a partner, or with a partner that doesn't know what they're doing or doesn't value you as a customer can is just wrong. Trust us when we say that you will end up saving money by contacting us before implementing NetSuite.

But please, don't try to split up the NetSuite implementation to different vendors. Drawing boundaries and responsibilities is tricky, and the result is always worse than allowing us to take care of the entire implementation. Trust us, you will end up paying more if you split up the implementation.

Mistake 9: Expectation management

The final mistake we see companies make is having too many expectations for the go-live. Don't expect NetSuite to be the best software for all processes. There is much better software out there for each process (like Bezala for Expenses), but the beauty of NetSuite is that all processes are intertwined, enabling cross-process improvements.

And don't expect improvements to come right away. Know that most of the process improvements will come post go live. The efficiency probably will go down the first 30-40 days. Your people will most likely be tense as they need to change the way they've been working. Changing their primary rhythms will be frustrating.

But a few months down the road, you'll start noticing that some parts of the process go much faster than earlier. And 5-6 months down the way you'll see yourself more excited about your business processes than ever before. But the good doesn't stop there, as you now have the worlds most potent ERP at your hands and can improve your processes as much as you'd like.

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