Every ERP implementation and ongoing use budget is different. The size of your company, the complexity of your business operations, and dozens of other factors all impact the costs you can expect to incur. As a ballpark figure, you can expect to pay over $8,000 per user over a five-year period, or around $1,600 per user per year.
This number will go up if your organization is a multinational manufacturing hub compared to a small professional services firm. Implementation costs can vary even more, with mid-sized companies paying anywhere from $150,000 to $750,000. Here, choices like on-premises hardware, the degree of customization, and the cost of professional services will significantly impact the cost for your own organization.
Breaking down the ongoing costs and implementation spend so it matches your organization’s goals and available budget is crucial for creating a NetSuite ecosystem that provides maximum value for your organization. Overpaying for support (or investing in the wrong kind of support) can make a new ERP a costly ongoing burden, while bare-bones support that provides insufficient service is a severe financial and operational risk.
In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most popular NetSuite support options that SMBs and enterprise organizations use. For each support type, we’ll explore the benefits and costs so you can choose the right-fit approach for your company. Then, we’ll take a closer look at why choosing the right NetSuite support option from the start is so crucial for controlling short-term and long-term costs.
NetSuite Is a Very Powerful Tool—with the Right Support
Thousands of companies use NetSuite as their preferred Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform, switching from QuickBooks and spreadsheet-style business management or competing systems to benefit from the increased efficiency and optimization. The core benefits that NetSuite offers all of its users are:
- Customer relationship management features and automations
- Financial tools for billing, procurement, and accounting
- Specialized features for eCommerce operations
- Employee management systems
- Business analytics through its SuiteAnalytics system
- In-depth modules for specialty services and additional capabilities
- Customization potential so software developers can create custom fields, functions, and integrations
However, while NetSuite can be a very powerful and dynamic tool, it may not be a perfect solution right out of the box. In fact, it’s designed for organizations to modify the dashboards, reporting, and other functions to precisely align with business needs. This robust performance naturally creates complexities, and virtually every company that uses NetSuite needs support to both implement the ERP platform and make it operate smoothly.
Some of the different use cases for support include:
- Implementation: Support services can assess a business’s needs, customize the software as needed for a smooth transition, and migrate business data over with minimal error or business disruption.
- Ongoing administration and support: Once NetSuite has been integrated into your daily operations, support will continue to be necessary. Your business may need new integrations as you grow your services or incorporate new software into your tech stack. Bugs and errors may crop up. You may even need to migrate more data if you acquire a new business.
- Development projects: Your NetSuite needs will change over time. Trained developers can make modifications, integrate new modules and software, and develop custom functionalities.
- Disaster support: If you start with one type of NetSuite support but it’s not the right fit, you need experts who can assess the in-process changes, create a recovery or rescue plan, and put that plan into motion to get the project back on track.
These are just some of the most common use cases for NetSuite support. As you roll out implementation or start to dive deeper into NetSuite’s capabilities, you may uncover additional support needs for optimal ERP management.
5 Different Types of NetSuite Support Options
Because there are so many different needs and projects under the broad umbrella of ‘NetSuite support,’ there are a wide range of different options that can fulfill your needs, ranging from in-house employees to third-party services. Compare the pros and cons of each option, including the direct monetary costs and the long-term financial implications, so you can zero in on the best choice.
Option #1: A Single Full-Time Expert
When you know your organization is going to need full-time NetSuite support, a full-time employee may be the first answer that comes to mind. You can hire a developer, administrator, or other experienced NetSuite-trained professional based on your budget and expectations for the years ahead.
There are some notable benefits of directly hiring a full-time employee:
- They will become very familiar with your iteration of NetSuite, including any customization.
- They will understand your business model, departmental needs, and other legacy details of your business.
- Employees may feel more comfortable asking questions or requesting support from a coworker instead of a hired service.
- Depending on the employee’s experience and capabilities, they may be able to manage a lot of different shifting tasks through implementation, general operations, and development projects.
That said, there are some critical costs to consider. First, the average annual pay for a NetSuite admin or developer can be anywhere from slightly over $115,000 up to around $170,000. In addition, employers also pay a variety of administrative and indirect costs for employees, which are typically between 25-40% of the salary cost. So if you hire a developer for $115,000, your organization might actually pay $161,000 per year.
Other costs include:
- Turnover: Direct recruiting and hiring costs, onboarding, and indirect costs due to reduced productivity in the interim
- Auxiliary Support: Your NetSuite developer won’t be able to manage everything. You may need to hire additional support services or short-term contractors for intensive projects.
Option #2: An In-House NetSuite Team
Rather than hiring a single NetSuite-trained professional, you might have a team. This is a more reasonable option for large enterprise-level organizations. While it can be costly, there are several benefits.
The benefits of directly hiring a NetSuite team include:
- Complete in-house operations: If you are a Fortune 500 company, a manufacturer that serves the DoD on very sensitive projects, or a similarly large and complex organization, you need complete control over your ERP system—and that includes security. In-house teams protect your confidentiality, security, and ability to make very sudden changes. Of course, third-party services may offer all those elements as well.
- Dynamic project management: With a bigger team, you can complete more custom development projects, data migrations, and support tickets simultaneously.
The costs of this approach more than multiply the costs of hiring a single developer. You’ll need more administrative support, a manager for the team, and preparations for more turnover or hiring. If your team exceeds five people, this is a $1,000,000+ approach.
Option #3: Custom NetSuite Developers
You may already have a staff member or service that can manage the day-to-day NetSuite administration and support, but SuiteScript and custom development are out of their comfort zone. When projects are just intermittent or you don’t always know what you need, hiring a third-party custom NetSuite development service can be a great fit.
The operational and financial benefits of this option include:
- More targeted specialization: A team of professionals can match you with the specialist for the project’s scope or your industry.
- No fixed costs: You pay for services when you need them, and you don’t the rest of the time.
- Expertise: NetSuite custom developers are experts in their craft—especially if you find a NetSuite-certified team. That means you’re more likely to get professional services with updated knowledge and insights. A full-time employee busy with mundane tasks or daily operations might not be able to keep up.
Hour-for-hour, third-party NetSuite developers and consultants generally cost more than in-house employees. But you don’t want to search for budget developers or the bare minimum. To figure out the costs for this option, you’ll need to speak with different companies, get an understanding of their rates, and, if possible, get estimates for the projects you have in mind.
Some additional costs of this option include the time it takes for them to become familiar with your operations, the costs of switching to use different services for different project areas, and having money ready if you did hire that poor-fit, low-budget team and they leave you with a disaster.
Option #4: Managed Support and Admin Services
After implementation and in between projects, your organization will need ongoing support to keep your NetSuite iteration running smoothly. Rather than hire in-house employees to provide this service, many companies turn to a third party for managed services or to handle support calls.
This strategy offers several advantages, including:
- Efficiency: These services have the tools, staff, and experience to catch problems early and minimize downtime or disruption. They use a combination of automated monitoring and manual responses.
- Less overhead: You only pay for routine admin services and then additional support when you need the support. This strategy is much more flexible than fixed employee costs.
- Ability to respond quickly to different levels of demand: When you have a relatively small company, it won’t make sense to have a dedicated employee just for support. They may not have enough work on some days and far too much on others.
Different companies provide different levels of service, and they may be based in different countries. Costs will vary widely. You may also need to pair this strategy with other development services for occasional projects.
Option #5: NetSuite-Certified Partner for Implementation and Ongoing Support
The most versatile option is hiring a comprehensive third-party service that has expertise in all the core areas of NetSuite support: implementation, custom development, ongoing support, and disaster management if a project goes awry.
Benefits of this approach include:
- Better project fulfillment: Consultants in these organizations can assess your needs and provide a best-fit approach. Because they provide a wide array of services, there’s much less risk of them upselling you on a solution you don’t need or pushing you toward an expensive customization project when a new module or simple tweak will work just as well.
- Experts who are more familiar with your system and business: When you can return to the same team of experts for implementation, future development projects, and day-to-day support, they have a deeper and more immediate understanding of your business. The relationship is stronger, and your total NetSuite experience is more cohesive.
- Peace of mind: Your employees can reach out to your NetSuite-certified partner and be sure to get a solution, not a partial solution or workaround from within the scope of a limited service catalog.
There is no single estimate on hourly or per-project costs for these services, as every project and services provider is different. However, by choosing a comprehensive NetSuite partner, you can expect a clear-cut discussion and plan for moving forward. The right partner will help you easily gain a clear understanding of their different prices and forecast future project costs and operational expenses with a high degree of accuracy.
Business Advantages of Having the Right NetSuite Support
No matter which option is the right fit for your organization, having the right type and level of NetSuite support is incredibly valuable. Not only does it increase the value of NetSuite to your organization, which can increase your revenue and business opportunities, but it also reduces potential spending on poor-fit solutions, unnecessary staffing, and recovery projects. Choose the support that always gives you these benefits:
- Better implementation
- More efficient business operations
- Smoother expansion and changes in the future
- More predictable costs
- Constant access to the support you need when you need it
Don’t Pay the Cost of Poor NetSuite Support—Protect and Grow Your Business with the Right Partner
More dynamic NetSuite support that fits your evolving needs doesn’t just cut down on wasteful spending. It also gives your business the resources it needs to flourish in increasingly complex markets. At Limebox, we provide expert consulting, implementation, development, and support services for SMBs in and out of the manufacturing sector. We’re committed to providing high-quality services that fit our clients’ immediate needs, short-term objectives, and long-term growth goals. Reach out today to see how our services fit into your budget.