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Staff NetSuite Developer vs. NetSuite Development Company: Which Do You Need?

When you’re switching from QuickBooks and spreadsheets to NetSuite—or even making a lateral move from a different ERP—customization projects are part of the implementation journey. Only 20% of organizations didn’t report having customizations; 33% of NetSuite survey respondents needed a moderate degree of customization, and even more (37%) needed a lot of customization work to create the seamless NetSuite workflow they’d envisioned. 

Of course, this isn’t to say that NetSuite doesn’t work. It does work—and has a 4% market share in the ERP market. What this does mean is that you need to consider the role of customization in your total implementation and post-implementation processes. Where is NetSuite already a perfect fit for your business, and where can custom functionalities give you the biggest boosts in performance and efficiency?

This question is your first major fork in the road once you’ve decided NetSuite is the right fit for your organization. To help you consider both options, we’ll explore some of the key benefits of prioritizing customization and how custom Netsuite development will make key aspects work much better for your unique organization. Then we’ll walk through the pros and cons of both an in-house NetSuite development employee versus hiring a third-party NetSuite development company, so you can choose your preferred option with more confidence.

When You’re Switching to NetSuite, Custom Development Makes It Even Better

NetSuite is a comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, and it’s built to be customized. Because NetSuite built the software to accommodate a wide range of businesses across every size and niche, the programming running behind the scenes allows for nearly endless modifications, customizations, and integrations. 

But what this means is that you can’t immediately switch from your current setup to NetSuite. Instead, the platform needs to be customized to suit your workflow, tech stack, and business-specific data needs. While this may seem like a bit of a chore compared to software you can start using the day you purchase it, there are several significant advantages that power businesses’ decisions to switch to NetSuite—and may even have powered your own organization’s decision.

It’s a Versatile, Enterprise-Standard Software That Can Centralize All of Your Business Operations

When businesses operate across different platforms that don’t communicate, the business necessarily develops siloes. Teams and data sets can’t talk to each other, and decisions are either delayed or made with incomplete information. Money and time are wasted on manual processes and data transfers. 

Related: Do I Need a Full-Time NetSuite Administrator to Get the Most Out of NetSuite?

But NetSuite can become the central core of your business operations by being the single source of truth for your business’s data. You can handle financial tasks, invoicing, asset management, warehousing and inventory, and order management, all within one platform. There are even advanced modules you can plug in for deeper functionalities based on your business focus.

It Allows You to Create Custom Dashboards for More Productivity

Dashboards are incredibly useful interfaces that can completely restructure how everyone in your organization manages their day. With custom dashboard views, your warehouse managers can see pending to-dos, KPIs, and incoming orders; sales directors can see quarterly goals, forecast models, and pending sales at various parts of the pipeline; your facilities managers will see pending contracts and procurement requirements, alerts, and ongoing compliance reports. 

However, the exact dashboards that each of your organization’s employees need will not be default templates. Instead, a custom developer can create custom views, fields, and layouts that optimize everyone’s views and use of NetSuite.

Custom Integrations and Automations Can Be Designed to Involve Your Entire Tech Stack

NetSuite integrates with hundreds of different business tools, but custom development gives you much more functionality. A custom development project can:

  • Integrate legacy tools or niche software that doesn’t have a pre-engineered integration option
  • Ensure every integration has the necessary security to protect the information
  • Make every tool talk to each other in the right configuration
  • Set up automations that extend beyond typical offerings, including triggering automatic procurement or material orders, alerting stakeholders about deadlines, assembling information for tax and compliance reports, and shifting contract renewals to to-do lists in a timely fashion

Robust Data Architecture Can Make the Data Appear Exactly Where It’s Needed

Eliminate data and process errors by making sure your entire ERP ecosystem has the right data architecture. This foundational work makes the system much less likely to break, and it makes it much simpler to add new platforms or modify processes down the road. By defining how different parts of your data pipeline should relate to each other, every department can have more faith in the integrity of the data, no matter how big your company becomes.

Two Paths to the NetSuite Development Finish Line: In-House Developers or a Development Partner?

Accessing all of the above benefits relies on custom NetSuite development. While NetSuite offers a lot of functionality from the start and has advanced modules, there’s no substitute for building out NetSuite to operate the way your business really needs. 

Most organizations choose between two different options for managing their customization processes: hiring a full-time employee who manages customizations or even the entire NetSuite infrastructure, or hiring a third-party NetSuite development company that offers admin services, custom development, and as-needed support services.

Examine the advantages and disadvantages of both options to decide which one is right for your current project and future needs.

Hiring an In-House NetSuite Developer

A staff NetSuite developer is an internal employee who can review your existing NetSuite system, plan and manage customization strategies, provide support, and create custom functionalities with SuiteScript. Depending on the size of your organization, you may have one employee who manages all of these tasks or a team that consists of specialized experts in different areas.

The Pros of a Staff NetSuite Developer

Having a full-time NetSuite developer on staff can be a convenient and valuable option. The advantages of this approach are:

  • Starting New Tweaks and Projects Feels Easier. When someone is consistently in the office to manage new projects, your departments may feel more comfortable requesting customizations or suggesting modifications. Customization projects can feel like less of a disruption or a costly task.
  • You Have Someone in the Office Who Knows About NetSuite. Again, having an in-house expert can be helpful, especially if they have the availability to immediately start resolving problems as they arise. Your in-house specialist can explain NetSuite in relation to core business operations, may be familiar with the different decision-makers across different departments, and, provided they’re a long-time employee, will be very familiar with your iteration of NetSuite.

The Cons of a Staff NetSuite Developer

There are some important limitations when you hire a NetSuite developer as part of your staff. These disadvantages can include:

  • Limited Time Availability. When one employee is managing your entire NetSuite platform and creating custom functionalities, their schedule will quickly become full. They have to prioritize certain projects, and other to-dos will be put on a waiting list. One way to resolve this fundamental limitation is to hire a development company on an as-needed basis and have your in-house employee manage projects.
  • Limited Knowledge Base. A single NetSuite developer, no matter how many years of experience they have, won’t be able to know everything. They may have a strong understanding of data architecture but be rusty on SuiteScript. They might expertly manage implementation and other projects but not have a solid understanding of warehouse management. These limitations will hamper the orchestration of your data ecosystem.
  • You Don’t Know If You’re Getting Best Practices. Developers often develop their own style and rely on a long history of knowledge; they may not be up-to-date on the best methodologies or organizational practices. As a result, you may have systems that don’t make sense to your next NetSuite developer if the current one leaves, and the work may not be optimal.
  • Employees Are Expensive. Full-time employees cost a lot of money. Not only do good developers expect a high salary, but there are health benefits, retirement benefits, technology costs, and recruiting costs. Once you’ve hired a developer, expect to spend between 125% and 140% of their salary each year as the total cost. Turnover can increase this cost substantially and be very disruptive to the development process.

Hiring a NetSuite Development Company

Hiring a NetSuite development company is a much more versatile option, as you can choose both the services and the degree of service you need at a given time. Development companies are third-party teams of NetSuite experts who are administrators, support specialists, SuiteScript programmers, and niche industry experts. When you hire a service, you’re tapping into a team instead of a single individual.

The Pros of Partnering With a Development Company

The key advantages of hiring a NetSuite custom development service include:

  • Flexible Access to a Wide Range of Services. Throughout your company’s use of NetSuite, you may need a wide range of services for varying times and durations, including:
    • Admin services to manage the platform so you have 24/7 coverage
    • Technical support for everything from data crashes to basic questions following implementation and adoption
    • Implementation project management and services
    • Customization services to create new solutions, fields, reports, and KPIs
    • Rescue and recovery options if a previous project with a different company or former employee goes off the rails
  • Expertise in Your Industry. NetSuite developers don’t just need to know NetSuite; they also need to understand your industry and business model. When you hire a service, you can pick one that’s familiar with e-commerce, large-scale warehousing, your manufacturing sector, and other niche particulars.
  • Use of Best Practices and Standardized Workflows. The right NetSuite development company uses a lot of quality control frameworks and standard workflows. Not only does this guarantee a certain quality of work at the moment, but it also ensures that the customizations themselves will be easy for future teams to use, modify, and build on, no matter where the future takes you.
  • On-Demand Support. Your need for support will vary throughout the seasons. You may need full support during implementation and intensive training resources during the roll-out period. Then you might need far less support in the second year, with a slight uptick in demand for one-off customizations. When you hire a service, the support is completely on-demand, so you only pay for what you need and don’t hit a wall on what you can demand.
  • Predictable Costs. The cost of a NetSuite development team isn’t fixed—instead, it’s proportional to what you need, and the line item costs will be laid out before you start each project. This means you can easily determine what fits in your budget and adjust your budget around must-have expenses.

Related: The 8 Crucial Factors for a Successful NetSuite Implementation Guide

The Cons of Using a NetSuite Development Company

As noted, hiring a development company offers multi-faceted expertise, on-going support as needed, and more. Cons are few. However, to realize the benefits you must first find the right partner. 

Finding the Right Company Involves Looking at Multiple Factors

When you don’t specialize in NetSuite, knowing what to look for in a service provider is hard. The services seem too similar or the terminology may be outside your expertise. But hiring the wrong fit can be a costly mistake. Some things you can look for to make the process easier and more objective are:

  • Development companies who are NetSuite-Certified Partners
  • Companies that offer each of the services you anticipate needing (which can simplify your vendor management process, as well)
  • Development services that have at least ten years of experience helping companies in your industry
  • Companies that don’t oversell you on customizations. While custom tools and functionalities can streamline your operations, not everything needs to be customized. Find companies that are clearly operating in your best interest with a reasonable amount of custom coding recommendations rather than companies trying to push as many customizations and projects as possible.

These qualities can be good indicators that you’re on the right track with finding a development company that can meet your needs—and the rest can fall into place.

Get the NetSuite Development Services You Need

Customization is part of the process—and part of the benefit—of moving to NetSuite. At Limebox, our team of customization and implementation experts is always available to help with your next project, no matter the size or complexity. We offer complete implementation and administration services, on-demand technical support that fits your needs, and rescue services for projects that have become all tangled up. Reach out today to start making progress on your NetSuite development projects.


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