NetSuite implementation projects vary tremendously in size, scope, and price, with the cost ranging anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000. Even NetSuite itself can’t give a specific number or range due to the different factors affecting the final price tag. However, that total determines a lot of things, such as the full amount of customization you can plan on, the timeline to a positive ROI on NetSuite implementation, or even if the project is feasible in the first place.
Whether you’re creating a project plan to switch from your current ERP or simply exploring the possibilities of implementing NetSuite at your company, the most important step of the initial process is to define your NetSuite implementation cost. Of course, that’s easier said than done—that’s why NetSuite, support services, and implementation companies across the country can’t give you a simple, clear-cut answer.
This guide gives you the tools to break down your ERP implementation project into general categories and specific line item costs. Once you have a clearer idea of what NetSuite implementation costs include, we’ll give you some red flags to watch out for and some helpful guiding steps as you start filling in the specific costs for your business.
Know the Different NetSuite Implementation Cost Elements
While a “NetSuite implementation project” might seem like a short, confined undertaking, there are layers and layers of work contained within the implementation phase alone. It includes broad steps like discovery and assessments, planning, design, migration, and ensuring adherence to a data architecture that makes all your business systems more cohesive. There are also a lot of costs and concepts surrounding that implementation phase, such as getting everything ready and ensuring your company’s data systems and the ERP itself will work smoothly long after implementation is complete.
Businesses often see failed implementation projects because they don’t fully account for the initial or continuing costs of operating the system. The major categories of costs that switching to NetSuite will incur include:
Base Subscription Software
NetSuite costs follow a relatively simple form that’s made of three core components:
- The basic monthly subscription
- The number of user licenses (based on the number of employees who will have their own direct access to your ERP) multiplied by the per-license fee
- The support tier you select as part of your package
NetSuite includes a standard level of system down only support with a subscription but also offers premium tiers. The total of these three components makes up your base monthly cost.
Additional Modules and Customization
While NetSuite is operational right out of the box, this setup is rarely the best fit for any business. There may be too many features cluttering up your dashboard, or you may be lacking custom fields and capabilities that make sense for your business.
There are two broad methods for modifying your NetSuite iteration to suit the needs of your business:
- Modules: NetSuite provides a wide selection of advanced modules for eCommerce, niche accounting needs, different industries, and so on. You can pick the module(s) that make sense for your business, and they’ll be added to your monthly costs.
- Customization: NetSuite developers can manually design and build custom scripts and functions into NetSuite that are made just for your business. This can be a costly service, but it will quickly pay for itself through more efficient operations.
Most NetSuite implementations will involve a combination of these two approaches.
Implementation—Including Direct and Indirect Costs
The implementation itself is a major undertaking. You may have a single team handling all the different tasks, but it’s important to price out each of these efforts no matter who is taking charge.
Your business’s current data sets will need to be cleaned, backed up, and migrated into NetSuite. Depending on how sophisticated your current data ecosystem is, this may involve a lot of foundational work, or it could be a relatively simple matter of transferring the data and checking for complications (though this is rarely the case).
Training and Support
If your team isn’t accustomed to working in NetSuite, training will be a key component of implementation. Consider tutorials, paying for a higher level of support during the initial weeks, and training key department personnel to be in-house experts. Also, the Oracle Learning Portal is an invaluable resource.
Delays and Inefficiencies
Here, the math will be a little fuzzy. Implementation projects take time away from your employees, even if you completely outsource the implementation itself. Work will take longer as everyone adjusts, people may be frustrated by the changes, and adjacent projects might be delayed. Anticipate these costs as much as possible.
You may also have delays within the project itself, adding additional labor hours and professional services costs. There’s also the risk that your implementation project ends in disaster if it isn’t properly managed. At that point, you’ll need to hire professional project recovery and resolution experts.
Ongoing Maintenance Costs
As the dust settles, you’ll have continual maintenance costs. You may select premium tiers of NetSuite support, but that’s often not enough. Instead, working with a third-party preventative maintenance team, support staff, or other service can help you quickly resolve delays or errors in your ERP. Over time, you may need to pay for custom development projects or new reports as your business evolves and changes.
We don’t list out all of these costs to be disheartening or to push you away from using NetSuite as your next ERP. By knowing all the NetSuite implementation cost factors from the start, you can more comprehensively plan your budget and ensure you stay within that budget as much as possible.
Where Budgeting for NetSuite Implementation Costs Can Go Wrong
The typical NetSuite implementation cost is high, so crafting a budget plan that’s as detailed and accurate as possible is a must. Because it’s so complex, there are a lot of problems that can knock your estimates off course. Inaccurate implementation cost estimates happen when people are:
Not Considering All of the Factors
Above, we listed out four categories of costs contained within an implementation project. If you only consider the implementation itself, you can find your budget incredibly short when you need support, maintenance, or funds for continuing the subscription. Make sure all of the costs are accounted for in a final lump sum or range. A NetSuite implementation consultant can help ensure you consider all the factors and have reasonable pricing expectations for each one.
Trying to Make Do with Out-of-the-Box Functionality
Because NetSuite can work in its default form, many budget-strapped organizations try to do precisely that. This angle can lead to poor employee adoption, clunky and ill-understood processes, data that doesn’t interact correctly, or even inaccurately auto-filled fields. Try to identify the high-priority customizations that can do as much of the heavy lifting as possible, and look for custom developers that fit your budget without overpromising.
Conversely, Pushing For a Fully Custom NetSuite Iteration
Many organizations start with budget expectations that are simply too small, and they’ll find themselves scrambling to find additional funds near the end of the project. However, it’s possible to swing to the other end of the spectrum. If you’re considering a fully customized NetSuite iteration with all the bells and whistles, with no standard functions or plugged-in modules in sight, your budget will balloon. Faced with sky-high numbers, your executive team or CIO may turn down the project or delay it.
Most businesses don’t require a full custom development. In fact, as you’re shopping around for services, it’s important to scrutinize any company that insists you need everything customized. Instead, a great NetSuite implementation project will involve a balance of standard operations, maybe some modules, and the right custom scripts to bring everything together. Minimizing the custom work (and the associated costs and time) results in having a far lower cost that your executive team will be much more receptive to.
Accepting Estimates That Are Too Good to Be True
When you’re operating on a small budget or your company is leery of big changes, it can be tempting to accept the lowest bid on a project. But there are quite a few risks of hiring implementation experts who offer to do the work at a surprisingly low price:
- You’ll see project scope changes and sudden increases in cost as the project continues, leading to a far bigger price tag than you initially signed on for.
- The work may be subpar and full of security concerns or operational bugs.
- The company may not even be able to finish the work. The low price may have been due to inexperience or hiring untested subcontractors, leaving you with a dysfunctional ERP and no money remaining.
Instead, carefully research your options, be cautious, and know what services and associated costs are fair for everyone involved.
How to Do It Right: Best Practices for Managing Your NetSuite Implementation Costs
You’re already well on your way to successfully navigating NetSuite implementation costs. You know the major types of costs involved and some of the warning signs that your budget could be in trouble.
Now, consider some best practices that can help you create a more accurate budget from the start, make sure the budget doesn’t change along the way, and achieve a robust, smoothly running ERP at the end of the project.
Shop Around and Get Transparent Pricing
Because there is no universal pricing guide, your team will need to do a bit of legwork. Research different companies in your niche or geographic area and find which services, pricing, and level of support they offer. Much like with estimates for renovations in your home, don’t accept the first offer. Instead, look around, get a feel for what’s normal, and check everyone’s credentials.
Look for Both Implementation and Ongoing Support Services
If you’re outsourcing your NetSuite operations to third-party teams, either wholly or under the management of an in-house NetSuite expert, it’s often best to work with as few services as possible. Look for companies that offer everything you need for implementation—then see if they offer ongoing support and services for smaller custom development work in the future. Companies that do this can offer more cohesive service because they’ll be familiar with your setup and have a wide range of expertise.
Minimize Disaster Expenses By Choosing a Certified Company That Knows Your Industry
Earlier, we mentioned the importance of checking the credentials of the companies you consider hiring. Develop a checklist that includes factors like:
- Being an official NetSuite-Certified Partner for implementation and custom development
- Having experts who know SuiteScript inside and out for any custom work you need
- Having years of experience in your specific industry, whether that’s warehousing, field service, or anything in between
- Being able to share testimonials and success statistics for ROI, uptime, and efficiency
Plan for Success With Your NetSuite Implementation
Navigating a NetSuite implementation budget can be overwhelming. Exploring the details surrounding NetSuite implementation cost factors sets the groundwork for current and future success. At Limebox, we offer comprehensive NetSuite implementation, custom development, support, and rescue services. In addition, our consultants can help you create a budget plan before work even begins. Get in touch today to get real-time insights into NetSuite costs in your industry and start discussing the details for your business’s next ERP.