Moving to a new ERP—whether you’re currently making do with QuickBooks and spreadsheets or you have an ERP platform that isn’t currently a good fit—is a big undertaking. And it can feel like an incredibly risky one, as organizations like Gartner estimate that between 55-75% of ERP projects either fall short or fail entirely. That’s a scary percentage, but success or failure often comes down to choosing the right implementation partner.
The top NetSuite implementation partners will expertly explore your company’s needs and create a detailed project plan from the very start—and that upfront organization alone can make all the difference in ensuring you complete implementation project with a NetSuite system that is completely aligned with your business’s needs.
If you’re searching for a NetSuite implementation partner, you already know all the benefits that a smoothly running ERP can bring to your organization. This guide skips the fluff—let’s dive straight into the most important indications you should focus on so you pick a high-quality services provider from the very start of your project.
8 Differences That Set the Top NetSuite Implementation Partners Apart From the Crowd
It’s hard to know what implementation partner is the right fit for your organization, especially if this is your first ERP implementation. This list explores the credentials, services, and quality of operations you should expect.
1. The Credentials: They’re NetSuite-Certified
Finding the top NetSuite implementation partners starts with a fact-finding mission. One of the easiest standards you can verify is a prospective service’s qualifications. Is the organization NetSuite-certified? Are the developers and consultants they provide also individually certified? The NetSuite Alliance Partner Program certifies developers and implementation experts to indicate to organizations that the service providers have the necessary skills to do the work.
2. They Come With a Complete Understanding of Native NetSuite Integrations and Tools
One of the best parts about shifting to NetSuite is that your organization can create custom workflows and processes for every department. No matter how your organization does work, NetSuite can support it. It does this through three broad ‘types’ of tools and capabilities:
- Native functions and capabilities: NetSuite is incredibly robust. For some businesses across manufacturing, professional services, and eCommerce industries, those capabilities are more than enough. You just need to orient the dashboards, tools, and fields to use your data as effectively as possible.
- NetSuite modules: If your business is complex, it might outstrip what the default NetSuite platform provides. That’s why the company created modules, or modular packages of extra functionalities, that go more in-depth and provide more dynamic power to your operations. There are a wide range of modules, and they can be easily added to your system.
- Custom developments with SuiteScript: When your business operations are completely unique, or you need very specific data operations, the default and modular functions may not be enough. This is where custom development really adds value. However, while SuiteScript goes the extra mile to help developers write and create wholly unique processes, this shouldn’t be the bulk of your ERP system. It’s too expensive, too cumbersome, and too likely to ignore the tools NetSuite already provides.
You want an implementation partner that can fluidly use all three but reaches for the first two options first. Trustworthy, knowledgeable partners focus on making the existing tools work hard and never upsell you on custom coding.
3. They Offer Honest, Clear Answers About What You Need and What It Will Cost
In between researching your potential partners and signing a contract for the implementation project, you’ll request a quote. You may even request quotes from a couple of final contenders just to get a feel for the pricing. Here, look for two key differences that separate great partners from questionable ones: reasonable project scopes and believable pricing.
Be Wary of Overly Complex Custom Solutions
Many organizations that turn to NetSuite will have a little custom work done or integrate some NetSuite modules for extra functionality. After all, the platform is built for the needs of tens of thousands of different organizations. But the platform is very robust, and your organization should use it—not use custom coding—as much as possible.
Honest implementation partners will set up your system using as many native integrations as possible and provide expert-level customizations as needed. This approach reduces expenses, cuts down on unnecessary complexity, and will make it easier to continue building out your systems as your business changes in the future.
If a company immediately focuses on where customization can solve your problems and starts planning a big project, be careful.
Don’t Fall for Underbidding
Price-conscious organizations can over-prioritize budgeting. Staying within a certain cost window is essential for SMBs, especially since project creep can affect finances directly or sink business productivity and revenue indirectly. But where a focus on budget goes from cautious spending to a risky mistake is when price becomes the top factor in choosing an implementation partner.
Some businesses will deliberately underbid, presenting a bare-bones fee schedule to secure your business. Then, you’ll either have a limited ERP or a project change that balloons the budget. In fact, the top reason why companies go over budget is because the first scope wasn’t comprehensive enough.
4. They Have Meaningful Experience in Your Industry
The discovery, execution, and training stages of your implementation project go much more smoothly when your implementation team is familiar with your industry. They can better understand your operations and where the standard NetSuite functions don’t match up with your unique needs, and they likely have a clear understanding of your frustrations with your existing ERP system.
Shop around for a company that has at least ten years of experience helping organizations in your industry. This standard helps ensure that:
- They have a good history of satisfying clients in your industry.
- There are individual employees on the implementation team who have worked for organizations like yours.
- They are familiar with business operations and compliance requirements, including audits, quality control measures, security norms, and more.
5. They Offer More Than Implementation Services
Implementing NetSuite is just the first stage of having NetSuite power your organization. Once it’s rolled out, you’ll need a system administrator to manage all the moving parts, support professionals if something goes wrong, and develop services for future integrations and custom functions. You may decide to cover some of these needs in-house, or you might decide to work with third parties.
Top NetSuite implementation partners will extend a lot of options for post-implementation services. Look for companies that provide implementation, disaster recovery, small or large development project services, ongoing administration and support, and more. Turning to a single vendor for a wide range of services is more efficient than coordinating multiple solutions for a few reasons:
- They’re already familiar with your business.
- You already have a great working relationship.
- You’re not restricted by their limitations.
- They don’t have to offer you cumbersome workarounds within a narrow scope of services—the diverse range of services means they can give you the right solution.
6. Companies Turn to Them to Fix Disastrous Implementations
Sometimes, implementations go awry. Your in-house developer left mid-project, or your third-party service keeps increasing the size of the scope. The best service providers can help dive into the disaster, create a plan to get your project moving in the right direction, and steer it back to its intended destination. This level of service requires a great deal of knowledge and experience, especially if they can start revising the failed elements instead of just starting from scratch.
If you haven’t started your implementation project yet, you don’t need repair and recovery services. But choosing a development team that offers this service is a clear indication of their capabilities.
7. The Approach Always Goes Beyond Coding (Look for These 5 Implementation Stages)
The best implementation partners are the ones that offer you a comprehensive process, not just quick fixes and isolated solutions. Implementation is a big undertaking, and there are a lot of moving parts that can go wrong or cause delays along the way.
That doesn’t just include pulling the SuiteScript into the right formulations or creating bug-free customizations—it includes making sure your employees can actually use the implemented NetSuite. Gauge a prospective NetSuite implementation partner by making sure they include at least these six stages in their process:
- Discovery: During the discovery stage, your chosen implementation partner will dive into your business processes, the changes you want to see, and the details of your current ERP ecosystem. This is essential for avoiding cookie-cutter developments and reducing scope change later.
- Planning: As a result of the discovery stage, your organization will get an in-depth and customized scope of work document, a timeline with milestones, and clear resources for navigating the rest of the project. There should be a blend of native integrations and custom work, and good partners will emphasize the creation of data architecture.
- Execution: Throughout this stage, processes, custom automations, and tech stack integrations will start to take form. You will see visible progress through the milestones in the planning document.
- Team Training: While bare-bones implementation may just focus on the software, the top partners will also focus on your employees. They’ll provide training and resources so your organization can actually use the platform and so it creates measurable process improvements.
- Testing: This is less of a distinct phase and more of an ongoing process. The top NetSuite implementation partners will test each discrete customization, the workflows, and each integration—and they’ll provide appropriate documentation.
- Go-Live Processes (with support): Implementation specialists should stay on-site during the ERP rollout so they can answer questions and provide transitional support. Ideally, the go-live date will be on the targeted date. But if there are delays, a good partner will set expectations and certainly not rush through the work.
8. Their Past and Present Clients Still Like Them
Social proof is one of the most reliable indicators for almost any business or service—and the bigger the product or service, the more it matters. High-quality NetSuite implementation partners have honest and in-depth reviews, lots of testimonials (ideally from companies you recognize or companies in your industry), and a willingness to let you research their background.
Explore their website, look for reviews and ratings, and ask around your industry to see what a development service’s reputation is. The top companies will have clients that:
- Willingly complement them
- Continue to use them for multiple subsequent projects
- Have good business operations themselves
Choose From the Top NetSuite Implementation Partners So You Have an ERP Platform That Works for You
The next step is to start searching for a company that meets these qualifications—and at Limebox, we make the cut. Since 2009, our team has been serving field service companies, warehousing and distribution organizations, and more with custom development, support, and implementation services. Contact us to talk about what you want to see in your next ERP system—we’re here to listen.