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Strategies for Outsourcing NetSuite Implementation for SMBs

Transitioning to NetSuite is a big proposition, whether you already use an ERP that isn’t keeping up or you’re moving from Excel and Quickbooks to your first ERP. There are several potential challenges that can set back your go-live date, break your budget, or cause the entire project to fail. Trying to safeguard against these problems is a vital part of creating your implementation strategy.

While enterprise companies may manage a largely internal implementation, SMBs often see the best results with NetSuite outsourcing: hiring a third-party consulting and development service that can manage the entire implementation project for you. Outsourcing may seem like an extra layer of complexity at the beginning. After all, you now have to find a service provider before you can even unwrap your NetSuite software. On the upside, it also means cutting out a lot of complexity throughout the project.

With a little bit of research and a clear checklist of what you’re looking for in a partner, you can make the process of outsourcing NetSuite implementation much more transparent. Keep this list of strategies in mind as you consider implementation services and move closer to your go-live date.

Why NetSuite Outsourcing Is the Right Strategy for Most SMBs

Deciding to outsource your NetSuite implementation is a powerful strategy. Investing in a new ERP system can transform your organization and quickly lead to a positive ROI within just over 2.5 years. At the same time, it can be a disruptive strategy.

As an SMB, ERP software can cost approximately 5% of your budget. In addition, implementation, training, transitional costs, and delays can carry a heavy labor and time load. Selecting a reliable implementation service instead of burdening your internal staff with the project offers several advantages.

Keep Your Focus on Core Business Activities

Your business’s core competencies are the strategic, profitable capabilities your organization can provide. Essentially, every minute you spend on those core competencies is a money-making minute, and time spent on any other tasks results in a lower ROI or, depending on the productivity of the project, even a net loss. 

Related: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Your NetSuite Implementation

That’s why it’s beneficial to outsource non-core business activities as much as possible, especially as an SMB with less steady cash flow and profitability forecasts. Leveraging money so your internal teams can spend more time on your products and services is a good use of resources, especially if it’s on specialized services for which you lack established teams, equipment, and workflows. Outsourcing one-off projects like implementing NetSuite reduces costly waste and maximizes your team’s time for core competencies.

Don’t Let Internal Staffing Limitations Also Limit Your ERP

As an SMB, your company may face tighter constraints when putting together the right team for an implementation project. Ideally, you’d have a project manager with insight into departmental needs, an experienced administrator, and NetSuite developers skilled in writing custom code and up to date with the latest news from Oracle. You might have a cloud architecture expert, a specialist in ERPs for warehousing, distribution, and unique niches of your business, and staff who can test out the ERP in a sandbox. 

But SMBs don’t have employees to spare. You might have a single employee on staff who has been involved in an ERP implementation project before or a NetSuite administrator who knows some coding. Primarily, you’ll have IT experts who know a little bit of everything and directors or a CTO who can’t take time away from your product roadmap to devote themselves solely to rolling out the ERP.

When you opt for NetSuite outsourcing, there’s little to no slowdown in operations. There may be some turbulence as key players get pulled into meetings or your departments start transitioning to the new platform. But by and large, everyone can focus on their tasks without suddenly being overwhelmed. 

Benefit From Specialized Expertise and Up-to-Date Knowledge

If you try to make do, you’re naturally accepting limitations. Your in-house team won’t know the latest strategies in your industry, how to make use of NetSuite’s latest AI integrations, or what best practices have reshaped implementation projects.

By having a third-party implementation service, you can lean on a team of experts that has the latest knowledge and specializes heavily in implementations for businesses like yours. Depending on the size and capabilities of the company you choose, they may even handpick a team of niche experts based on your industry, business plans, and project objectives.

Know the Costs From the Start

When you manage any big project in-house, it becomes extra challenging to maintain clear insight into the costs. Consider accurately gauging what work hours and technology resources were spent on the project, identifying project drift and scope creep, and putting a price on small internal tasks. All of these costs are real but very difficult to calculate. 

When you hire a professional implementation and development team for NetSuite outsourcing, the project starts with an in-depth assessment and project map that identifies the scope and expected costs. Trustworthy companies will outline all the costs and discuss potential additional fees with you so you start with a clear understanding.

4 Strategies for Outsourcing Your NetSuite Implementation

Once you decide on NetSuite outsourcing instead of in-house management, there are several strategies you can use to streamline the process of choosing a service provider and make sure you have the best possible chances of success.

Strategy 1: Never Skip the Exploration and Scope Phases

Successful implementations start with exploration phases where consultants fully scope the project. This includes:

  • Defining and understanding your current business objectives and future business goals
  • The consultants learning about your business processes and workflows
  • Identifying what the implementation project should and shouldn’t include
  • Outlining the project roadmap and timeline so you and your partner are on the same page

Strategy 2: Choose the Right Development Partner

Before you can get to the scoping stage, you must select the right partner. There are many NetSuite outsourcing companies to choose from, so make sure you know which criteria matter most. Three of the most important characteristics are:

Offering a Comprehensive Outline of Steps From the Start

When you sit down with a prospective company, look for signs of professionalism, experience, and honesty. Avoid a company that will start with a shoestring project that inevitably leads to costly scope changes and unanticipated problems. Instead, select consultants who offer transparency and will fully lay out the undertaking, likely costs, and timeline.

Conservative Use of Custom Coding Instead of Upselling and Overcomplicating

Look for a NetSuite implementation partner who can do custom coding but doesn’t turn to it as their primary tool. For most SMBs, part of the implementation process includes customizing the software to better fit your needs. NetSuite facilitates this through its SuiteScript, but custom code development should always be low on the list of options. Instead, prioritize partners who turn to NetSuite modules and software integrations before breaking into the code. 

This makes it much easier to build onto your platform later and avoid a bulky, unsteady stack of code. It’s also more cost effective for you since custom coding involves a lot of costly hours. Avoid companies that recommend customizing large swaths of the system’s functionalities.

Expressing Industry Experience

Another way to identify the right implementation partner is to seek one with lots of experience. This should include:

  • Being a NetSuite-Certified Partner through Oracle
  • Having several years of experience as a NetSuite implementation company
  • Niche experience serving organizations in your specific industry, no matter what type of business you run

Strategy 3: Incorporate Training and Communication Into Your Implementation Plan

While your implementation service may be doing a lot of the hands-on work, it’s still important to interface with your internal team. Communicating with your employees early on, even before the project begins, will prepare your teams for the transition and ensure the right workflows are captured properly in your ERP. 

Related: The Latest on NetSuite Integrations and How a NetSuite Implementation Partner Can Help

Early training can also prepare employees with the knowledge and insights they need to more seamlessly use NetSuite after the transition. It’s a significant predictive factor in the success of your project, as all companies that prioritized early communication experienced a successful project.

Strategy 4: Decide What You Need for Post-Implementation Services

Your implementation project may conclude on the go-live date, but your software will need continuing services during and after the transition. Some of the post-implementation services you might need are:

  • An administrator who can manage licenses and access
  • Managed services for maintaining uptime and preventing business interruptions
  • NetSuite development projects to add new functionalities as your business changes and evolves

Work with your leadership team and stakeholders to anticipate what you’ll need in the first months and years of your ERP rollout. If your NetSuite outsourcing and implementation partner can continue to provide post-implementation services, that may be even more efficient and cost effective.

Choose a Reliable Partner for NetSuite Outsourcing

Outsourcing the bulk of your NetSuite implementation project is an effective strategy for most SMBs, as you can leverage the expertise of specialists while letting your internal staff focus on their core responsibilities. Choosing the right partner will maximize the benefits. 

At Limebox, we’ve been managing NetSuite implementation projects for SMBs since 2009, and we offer a comprehensive array of implementation, development, and managed support services. Contact us today to start outlining what your NetSuite implementation project can look like.


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