Top 9 mistakes when implementing NetSuite

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Fredrik teir

Fredrik Teir


NetSuite is a globally operating and well-trusted business platform that scales up to the various needs of growing companies and companies with international operations. However, NetSuite implementation should always be done carefully and with support of a competent partner. We made a list of some common challenges we’ve seen when implementing NetSuite, 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: Implementing all at once

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

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.

Configuring NetSuite, is straightforward; you can easily configure it to automate processes.

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 you might not even know what it is you want. 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.

Have your testers have some basic online training so that you know how the navigation and functions work. 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 end to end. 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: History data migration

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 and when, and we do recommend bringing in as much historical data as possible, but we recommend doing it beforehand.

Mistake 7: Reports definitions

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 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 BI Book.

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 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. 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. 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 world’s most potent ERP at your hands and can improve your processes as much as you'd like.

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