NetSuite implementation can drive tremendous new levels of efficiency to any business—if done right. If deployed without careful planning, which includes process reviews and training, you may be frustrated by the lack of results. Beginning your NetSuite implementation with a clear plan is the best way to ensure lasting success.
A clear NetSuite implementation plan should outline your methodology, establish a timeline for switching over to your new software system, and set expectations across your business. A plan is critical, as a typical ERP implementation may last six to nine months, depending on the complexity of your organization. A startup with few systems in place may fast-track this process within three months, while larger organizations may face an implementation of closer to nine to 12 months.
After all, this is more than a software upgrade. NetSuite should change the core of how your business operates. By following the six steps outlined below, you can drive the most effective outcome.
1. Business process review
If you’re investing in a new ERP system, it’s likely because your current system is not meeting your needs. You want something more efficient to manage your accounting, order processing, or supply chain management. However, the biggest pitfall that companies face when planning their NetSuite implementation is overlooking the change in business processes that must come with this software upgrade.
That’s why an effective NetSuite implementation should begin with a business process review that digs into key workflows and identifies pain points. This portion of your NetSuite ERP implementation may take anywhere from one to five days, depending on how well you already know the source of your operational challenges.
This step is also important in determining what ERP software modules to include in your implementation plan. With so many options for automating business processes, each plan is likely to have unique elements.
2. NetSuite implementation project kickoff
Once you have determined what your ERP solution will look like, it’s time to begin building the solution. When working with an experienced partner in NetSuite implementation, this step may start with a kickoff meeting that sets expectations for the process. This meeting should also determine key stakeholders to involve at each step and their roles.
You will want to identify an executive sponsor who serves as the project manager. For many businesses, this is a senior finance or IT leader. You will also want to involve key department stakeholders who will be impacted by the implementation of specific NetSuite modules.
In some cases, this early kickoff meeting may also serve as the start of workshops that explain the changes that come with a NetSuite implementation and how they will impact different aspects of standard business processes. Starting training early and often will help drive a change in thinking for your people that is critical to making ERP adoption successful.
3. The sprint to Alpha
An alpha state describes the point in your NetSuite implementation at which the ERP system has been configured with core functionality based on the client’s business needs, but lacks automation. This early draft will allow you to walk through all of the modules in their various components, gain an understanding of how the different parts work together, and identify any additional opportunities to better meet your process needs.
The goal is to reach this stage quickly so that there is ample time to make adjustments and fully build out the automated solution. Of course, the speed of this sprint will vary based on the complexity of the business and its ERP solution. For some companies, this sprint to the alpha phase of the ERP implementation may take two months, others may find it to be a seven-month sprint.
4. NetSuite automation and development phase
Once the module configuration has been validated, it’s time to build in the automation that will drive process efficiencies. This is also the phase in which to finalize any changes or make any adjustments that came out of that alpha phase as this automation development is a key element of your new solution.
5. Beta phase
By the beta phase, all configuration, workflow, and process changes have been made. Automation identified in the alpha phase has been programmed in. At this point, you should be able to walk through the entire system, see how the automation works, and ensure that the system is ready to go live. During the beta stage, the technology platform should be at least 95% complete.
The beta stage is the time to flush out the need for any additional training that may need to take place to ensure a smooth implementation. This training portion of your ERP implementation may take more time, but it is perhaps the most critical part of your rollout. Equally important, this phase is the time to ensure that your people are ready to implement the process changes that come with your new software solution. Without appropriate training, your people may revert to old processes, a common challenge for many businesses.
6. Going live with NetSuite
As the name implies, the go-live stage is when you officially move your business over to the new system. All processes are automated, new workflows are in place, and your customers and employees see new levels of efficiency in action.
When working with an experienced NetSuite consultant, businesses can gain the benefit of a post-go-live support phase, during which you have additional technical and training support to lean on. This final stage of an ERP implementation may last anywhere from 30- 45 days, providing support through a full financial cycle and into the next cycle to ensure all accounting and ordering processes work as expected.
How a NetSuite implementation consultant can help
Many businesses opt to install a NetSuite ERP solution on their own and certainly can reap efficiency benefits in doing so. However, it’s critical that businesses take a holistic approach to this implementation and how it will impact their existing processes. NetSuite can bring businesses a tremendous boost in efficiency, but it is most effective in doing so when people and processes are ready to accept those changes.
This is an area where 360 Cloud Solutions can help. Our experts bring to this implementation process not only technical expertise but a business process review that is unique to the industry. Our objective understanding of the workflows that drive ERP success and comprehensive training support has helped many businesses successfully deploy lasting NetSuite solutions.
If you’re ready to drive real change in your organization, contact 360 Cloud Solutions today.