From wholesale distribution and manufacturing to nonprofits and e-commerce, NetSuite is an excellent Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for your fast-growing company in almost every industry. With the all-in-one NetSuite cloud platform, you can manage your whole business process within a single system to maximize visibility, improve efficiencies, and scale your business—provided your Netsuite project implementation is done well.
To ensure you can run your business smoothly on NetSuite, you need to get the implementation right. The implementation process should take your current and future needs into consideration, along with the existing platforms in use and any customizations that you may require.
A fully developed plan of action along with the right people in place and the proper training can allow you to see positive bottom-line impact from your ERP right from the start.
How Easy is a NetSuite Project Implementation?
NetSuite is a powerful and customizable ERP system, but it can be a challenge to implement. It requires planning and preparation, and it can be time-consuming to configure and migrate data. The all-in-one nature of the suite also means that implementing it impacts your entire business and its processes.
Related: New NetSuite Admin Tips for 2023
That scope of change can be daunting, especially because the implementation usually takes at least a few months from beginning to end. At the same time, the benefits of the software make that process well worth the investment. With careful planning and execution, your NetSuite project implementation can be a surprisingly smooth process.
Can You Self-Implement NetSuite for Your Business?
It is possible to lead your own NetSuite project implementation without external help. But, because this (like any ERP) is a system with a lot of useful features, you’ll likely be more successful with the assistance and guidance of a trained team of NetSuite professionals.
If you do decide to implement NetSuite on your own, you will need a few elements firmly in place within your organization:
- An internal team of experienced NetSuite developers and administrators that can develop any customizations your business needs.
- A solid plan for migrating your current data into NetSuite.
- Patience, especially when you need software help from Oracle on the NetSuite product itself.
Even with these in place, the self-implementation process can be time-consuming and expensive. You will also need to factor in the cost of the NetSuite licenses as well as the cost of your internal resources. Partnering with a NetSuite professional implementation team, on the other hand, enables you to start reaping the benefits of your investment in your new ERP faster.
If you’re not sure whether you should self-implement NetSuite or hire a professional team, take a close look at the factors for a successful NetSuite implementation below. Only proceed without external help if you have full confidence that you can master each of these steps and factors on your way to long-term success.
8 Factors that Determine a Successful Implementation
Every business has different NetSuite implementation needs. Some factors of the implementation, though, will always remain the same. These eight factors determine whether or not your implementation will be successful and ultimately benefit your business.
1. Have a Strong Internal Implementation (Assist) Team
Most businesses that implement NetSuite will hire an external partner to do the heavy lifting for the reasons mentioned above. But even as that happens, you still need to identify a strong group of internal team members who will lead the migration to NetSuite within their respective departments.
Your internal implementation team will be subject matter experts for both the implementation and your implementation partner. They should be leaders in their departments and have a firm understanding of the systems their departments are currently using. This team will assist in creating process functions in their new NetSuite instance and will be a key leader when it comes time to transition and train their internal teams.
2. Allocate Sufficient Implementation Time: You Get Out What You Put In
Regardless of whether or not you work with an external implementation partner, moving to a dynamic system like NetSuite takes time. On average, implementing a new ERP takes between three and nine months for small and medium-sized business, and can expand to up to 18 months for large enterprises.
In that time, your internal resources will remain critical for a successful implementation. The only way your NetSuite partner will know how to best configure your ERP is by doing a deep dive into your business—asking questions, talking to your teams, and working with your teams throughout the process. In order to prevent delays in your NetSuite implementation, make sure your internal teams are prepared to shift some of their time to team planning, meetings, and data cleanup.
NetSuite’s potentially immense advantages are only as good as the implementation process and resources behind it. If you take the time and resources to get that implementation done right, your business will benefit in the long run.
3. Use the Crawl, Walk, Run Approach
NetSuite’s capabilities are vast. It’s tempting to jump right in and implement everything that could benefit your business at once. But doing so could bog down the implementation process and risks getting many features in place in a mediocre fashion.
Instead, start your implementation by identifying your most crucial needs up front and prioritizing them. The Crawl, Walk, Run technique in project management can help.
- Phase 1: Crawl. Keep things as simple as possible, making sure you get core functionality just right.
- Phase 2: Walk. Automate what you can among the core processes, and begin to expand into more features to expand your NetSuite footprint.
- Phase 3: Run. Accelerate all your core processes and implement all the nice-to-haves that are within the project scope.
If you’re working with a NetSuite implementation partner, they can help you develop a plan that outlines each phase of the project.
4. Pick a Strong Implementation Partner
No matter your individual scope, NetSuite project implementations are extensive and require both time and resources, so it’s important to pick a great partner. Look for a few factors to pick the best possible partner for the process:
- Make sure they have the experience you need, both within NetSuite and in the types of central features you’re looking to implement.
- Pick a partner with experience across various industries, which allows for a broader understanding of NetSuite’s full capabilities.
- Look for experience helping both small and large companies, which brings experience in not just feature implementation but broader process optimization and implementation from the ground up.
- Choose a partner that feels good to work with. This is an often-underrated part of the equation. You’ll be spending a lot of time over the course of months with them, so the right fit matters.
Finally, in an ideal world, look for a partner who can help you far beyond the implementation. Unless you plan to hire a full-time in-house admin, you will likely need ongoing NetSuite support and maintenance services. Receiving that support from a firm that already knows about your business and specific NetSuite instance will be beneficial.
5. Set Your Go-Live Date in the Beginning
As with any project, a core best practice is setting your deadline for implementation early. It allows you to plan the entire project within that timeline, helping everyone stay on task even if the final date is still months away. It also allows you to keep your NetSuite project implementation as an organizational priority that cannot simply be moved due to other project deadlines.
Once you have identified your Phase One deliverables, set a go-live date for your NetSuite instance and stick to it as best you can. This will help keep your team focused on the high-priority deliverables and prevent inevitable delays that could otherwise happen when the focus shifts.
6. Add Value and Relevance Through Customizations and Configurations
NetSuite comes with a wide range of pre-delivered features from which many businesses can benefit. But this is still a system designed to work across industries and for organizations of almost any size. To get the most value out of it, you will need to customize your instance to your needs.
Fortunately, with the right partner, Netsuite customizations and configurations can become a basic part of the implementation process. Customizations may increase your initial costs and timeline, but as your system goes live and these custom configurations take over, they will be well worth that investment.
One warning on this topic: some NetSuite implementation partners will push heavy customizations, even when they aren’t necessary. Set your core implementation goals, compare them against pre-delivered NetSuite features and existing solutions, and determine where you might need to customize—and expect your implementation partner to openly discuss this with you.
7. Migrate Clean Data
As mentioned, your NetSuite project implementation will require substantial financial, team, and time resources. These resources can be conserved by getting it right from the moment you start. Data migration is key to this success.
The data migration process, in turn, should start long before you migrate it into your new system. You’ll need to clean your data, ensuring that only current and accurate information ends up in your instance. Then, follow NetSuite data migration best practices to keep your implementation as successful as it can be.
8. Be Flexible and Get Your Team On Board
Team adoption remains one of the basic challenges for any new technology implementation, and NetSuite is no different. Once implemented, your new ERP will likely not match your current processes, and its success will require that your processes change to align with it. Of course, we all know you’re implementing NetSuite because you need your current processes to change. But it’s also crucial to be mindful of people who simply don’t like change.
You can start the process of getting your team on board early in the implementation. Highlight the short and long-term benefits to them personally and the company at large. Keep them involved in the features to implement, and be transparent about any processes that need to change. The better you prepare your team, and the earlier you can get buy-in, the more likely your NetSuite project implementation will be to succeed.
Take the Right Steps in Your NetSuite Project Implementation
A successful NetSuite implementation requires careful planning, time, and resources. By identifying your NetSuite internal and external teams, understanding the resources required and committing to the project, and by getting your team on board early, you can have your business up and running on NetSuite smoother than most.
The right partner can go a long way in succeeding with all these and any other steps you need to take. As a NetSuite-certified partner with more than 150 customers across various industries, Limebox is ready to help you succeed. Get in touch to supercharge your NetSuite implementation today.
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