NetSuite by Oracle is a robust, proficient product that can be quite useful for some businesses. And yet, this platform’s complicated setup, implementation, and requirements to get started may be far greater than a lot of companies have the capacity to handle.
In this article, we’ll explore the timeline required for a successful NetSuite implementation, as well as alternatives to this software that could benefit your brand in more ways than one.
Why you should consider NetSuite
Is your ecommerce company weighing the pros and cons of implementing NetSuite? There’s definitely a lot to consider with this decision — some good, some bad, and some that may have you comparing NetSuite to other enterprise resource planning systems available today.
Challenges of a NetSuite implementation
Given the many complexities associated with the NetSuite platform, it’s no wonder a number of its implementations don’t always go as planned. Whether these implementations stall, fail, or bust your budget, the reality is, they’re often a headache from start to finish.
27% of NetSuite implementations ran late
Knowing that more than a quarter of all NetSuite implementations run late should raise some serious red flags for any potential user. These delays are a significant concern, given that you won’t be able to meet necessary deadlines or complete projects as scheduled. And if you read between the lines here, you’ll recognize these lags can contribute to decreased satisfaction from clients or customers, and will presumably lead to a decrease in your profits, as well.
11% of NetSuite implementations failed
Studies show about one out of every ten NetSuite implementations fail, and those statistics aren’t to be taken lightly. When implementations don’t succeed, it can impact your company’s bottom line in a big way (and not for the better, either). Failures of this kind can create all kinds of issues within your supply chain, like slowing down production or interfering with manufacturing, all of which translate to major mishaps within your order fulfillment.
Budgets can be greatly exceeded using NetSuite
Too many companies have rushed to use NetSuite solutions without thinking through their specific business requirements or thoroughly vetting their other options. When this compromised decision-making is coupled with the fact that implementations repeatedly take longer than anticipated (or fail altogether), it’s basically a recipe for a budgeting disaster. Between lost revenue, exorbident consulting services fees and disappointed customers, unsuccessful implementations can leave a lot of damage in their wake.
The standard NetSuite implementation timeline
It’s safe to say a NetSuite ERP implementation is rather involved, in that it requires lengthy planning and preparation, configuration and data migration, and a testing, optimization and training period. All of this must be achieved prior to your go-live date, meaning in some regards, you’re really in it for the long haul. A typical NetSuite implementation timeline can range anywhere from a few months to a few years, however, six months is a good estimate for the majority of implementation projects. Even still, half a year can feel like an eternity when you’re eager to launch a new campaign or introduce a new product to your customers. That being said most legacy system ERPs aren't designed to support the nimble, fast-growing multichannel brands we see today.
11 NetSuite implementation steps
This guide covers the essential steps to NetSuite’s implementation methodology. Note that your company may need to follow this to the letter, while others may be able to skip a step or two.
For example, a pre-launch brand or a business that’s just starting out won’t need to perform data migration, whereas established brands will likely have a wealth of information they’ll need to carry over. With that said, it’s in your best interest to read through the full guide before deciding what edits or exceptions your company might be able to make.
1. Go over goals and strategies
The first step in any ERP implementation is to determine high-level goals, discuss the project scope, and get aligned on what you want to accomplish. Ideally, in these early stages, a NetSuite gap analysis would be performed and customization options outlined, in addition to detailing specific strategies and identifying the integration or migration systems you’ll need.
2. Formally assign roles and responsibilities
Once your goals have been locked in, it’s time to enter into the planning phase, where you’ll assign key team members their new roles and responsibilities. Your entire staff will need to know what they’re accountable for within the implementation, which might mean they’re serving as an ERP project manager, developer, analyst, and so on.
3. Create a dedicated team
As a supplement to allocating individual responsibilities, your company will also want to pick a dedicated project team to assist your NetSuite partner for the duration of this process. This internal team will take the lead on project management, including developing definitive timelines with the help of timeline templates and stakeholder expectations, and will be the go-to group for answers to any lingering questions. To streamline this process, a timeline maker tool can be utilized to create comprehensive and dynamic timelines that can be readily shared with stakeholders, promoting alignment towards project goals.
4. Begin data migration
The fourth step in NetSuite implementation is when you’ll actually get hands-on with the software. At this point, you’ll migrate data from your previous system (if needed), and then
NetSuite will begin absorbing all of your relevant business information — like account balances, CRM integrations, workflows, permissions, and customizations according to requirements.
5. Dedicated team learns the system
The implementation team from Step 3 will now familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of NetSuite’s software. This is when they'll take note of new enhancements and add-ons and detect whether there are any gaps present. Depending on how knowledgeable the group is regarding NetSuite’s functionality, this step may take considerable time.
6. Configuration and execution
Around the halfway point of implementation, you can begin to configure and execute your NetSuite customizations. Here, you’ll be able to configure NetSuite processes like ‘procure-to-pay’ and ‘order-to-cash’ (typically outlined in the planning phase), as well as various settings for accounting, shipping, cost, and security preferences.
7. Data migration is complete
The data migration activated in Step 4 will finally be complete, meaning every piece of data from your old system can now be found in NetSuite. The length of time this takes hinges on the size of your company and the catalog of information to be transferred, so be sure to forecast accordingly as you’re preparing for how long this project will last.
8. Training phase
While training is an underrated step in the grand scheme of NetSuite implementation, it’s certainly not one to be skipped. The truth is, if end users are not properly trained on the logistics of the ERP system, they can’t exactly be expected to use the application on their own. For that reason, your entire company should really be trained on the NetSuite system, so they can hit the ground running whenever things are ready to go.
Training might include courses offered by NetSuite consultants, proprietary courses from NetSuite implementation partners, online tutorials and guides, or workshops specifically for the users (created by the designated consulting services partner).
9. Testing phase
There are three phases for examining NetSuite’s ERP functionalities:
Testing: Rigorous testing is required to ensure results match the agreed-upon business requirements. There might be multiple rounds of testing, as determined by your business needs.
Use-Case Testing: External teams confirm all processes and customizations set up during Step 6 are working well in accordance with the established requirements.
User Acceptance Testing: Users test all of the processes and customizations set up during Step 6. (User acceptance testing points back to the importance of training, as users can’t verify the work of the implementation team if they don’t understand how NetSuite works.)
10. Time to go-live
You’ve put a lot of work into getting here, and now it’s time to go-live; your company is officially running its NetSuite software for the very first time. This is when you find out if the implementation has gone according to plan, or if more time and money will be spent resolving any hiccups or roadblocks impeding your success.
11. Post go-live support
The final step of your NetSuite implementation involves post go-live support from those who helped you along the way. It’s important to keep your external resources close by in the following months, in case problems arise you may have missed during earlier tests or trials. Be mindful that achieving maximum ROI with NetSuite is an ongoing practice that might call for tweaks and upgrades in the years ahead.
Extensiv Order Manager: The Easier Cloud ERP Solution
You may have inferred from the NetSuite implementation timeline that it can take copious hours and energy to reach a point where this software is truly benefitting your business processes. That’s because NetSuite’s bulky user interface makes order orchestration difficult to manage, let alone implement. Simply put, bringing a NetSuite implementation up to par will eat up countless hours and will likely follow a nonlinear, back-and-forth path to progress.
In contrast to the slow, tedious nature of the NetSuite implementation process, Extensiv Order Manager (formerly Skubana) software is the epitome of ease. With Skubana, you can synchronize all of your systems and data into a single easy-to-use platform in a matter of weeks - not months. Our Orderbots are able to handle advanced order routing and optimize orchestration with immediate, native functionality. You’ll also be able to re-route aging FBA or warehouse inventory to fulfill other channels’ (e.g. Shopify or Walmart) orders. Plus, you can avoid unnecessary storage fees and run well-timed promotions targeted toward slow-moving inventory.
Not only does Extensiv come in well under NetSuite’s pricing, but the quick onboarding, real-time automation, and flexibility to scale up will have you charting growth in no time. And did we mention Extensiv offers tons of native integrations into today’s top sales channels? Sounds like there’s plenty to gain from utilizing Extensiv's professional services and trusted management solutions.
Comparing Netsuite to Skubana (now Extensiv)
|Technology||Modern multi-tenant tech stack that scales with traffic and allows for daily deployment of updates and features||Old multi-tenant infrastructure that requires long, quarterly release cycles and tremendous amount of resources|
|Onboarding||Average onboard of 3 weeks that requires no 3rd party consultants and costs less than $5,000||Average onboard of 8 months that requires 3rd party consultants and costs over $100,000|
|Usability||Clean, modern, and intuitive UI designed for ease of use and increased productivity||Legacy portlets that show scattered data and inconsistent views across multiple modules|
|Integrations||Out-of-the-box connections to all major sales channels (e.g. Amazon, Shopify) and shipping providers (e.g. FedEx, UPS)||No native integrations force merchants to pay for custom development work for basic connectivity and features|
|Features||Modern commerce tools, purpose-built for today's merchants (e.g. listing profitability, FBA inventory, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment)||Outdated tools that are bundled during sales cycles but rarely used by modern brands and retailers|
Get Started Today
If you’ve read this far, you understand that Extensiv Order Manager is an excellent alternative to the NetSuite platform, and offers a number of features and functions your company can leverage to reach new heights and set even greater goals. If you’re in the market for a new system or solution provider, schedule a free demo from Extensiv today, and get started enjoying all of the incredible results for yourself.