By Phillipa Cross
Leveraging cloud-based tech to improve your business is a great idea, but implementing a new CRM or ERP is no walk in the park. Rolling out new software is often challenging, laborious, and time-consuming. For the best chance of ensuring your project is successful, you need someone well-versed in the software and able to commit full time to the process.
According to TechTarget’s 2018 IT Priorities Survey, 39% of businesses have had plans to implement a cloud-based ERP system over the last year. Yet most businesses lack the skills and resources necessary for a full-scale in-house implementation. As a result, many choose to make use of NetSuite’s partner network once they’ve reached the implementation stage and are ready to build out their project team.
For businesses that lack internal skills for a NetSuite implementation, there are two options: get help directly from NetSuite professional services, or employ a NetSuite partner also known as a NetSuite solution provider.
NetSuite has an excellent customer service team, but due to the sheer size of the company, it can be challenging to get a fast answer if you run into an issue. As well as that, When you invest directly through NetSuite, you will only be paying for the necessary software package, and any customizations or training will come at an extra cost.
Whereas if you purchase the software from a recommended NetSuite partner, you will gain a personal service from a leading expert and the added benefit of a NetSuite partner working with your business at a high level to guide you through the process from start to finish.
There are many other advantages of working with a NetSuite implementation partner. Here are some essential benefits to get you started.
NetSuite partners often charge lower rates for implementation than NetSuite’s internal professional services, plus, their terms are the same as if you purchased the software from NetSuite directly, your license and subscription contract is still taken out with NetSuite, but it’s negotiated by your partner, who could get you various deals and discounts.
Implementation partners tend to be minor, specialist companies; certainly more modest than the software vendors themselves, therefore, partners have more time and bandwidth to dedicate to your project. Partners tend to have a small stable of clients and are more likely to provide a higher level of customer service and dedication to help you achieve your goals.
NetSuite partners are highly knowledgeable about the software and overall NetSuite market, investing in a partner will give you access to impartial answers, demonstrations, and any further insight you may need throughout the implementation process.
If can also be beneficial for a company to choose a local NetSuite partner, to ensure they’ll have the best knowledge of country-specific regulations.
Every customer is different and will need different modules and reporting capabilities that will reflect their business model and overall company vision; an implementation partner has the ability to do this by tailoring the NetSuite system to fit the business-in-hand requirements.
When you purchase from a NetSuite provider, you will gain the capability of having a NetSuite expert developing and personalizing solutions that will fix specific problems with your company.
“When making the decision to make the move to NetSuite, part of the process from a partner perspective is understanding that all customers are unique, and need different views and customized reports to suit individual business models,”
“So for customers that engage with an implementation partner, it brings real problem-solving capabilities to the table and helps effectively deliver on implementation goals.
“Get implementation wrong and it could be a costly and time-consuming error with negative effects which are far-reaching. By working with a partner, you have peace of mind that you know you’re working with certified experts that live and breathe NetSuite.”Jon Ryan, Managing Director at BlueBridge One
Although NetSuite is software-as-a-service (SaaS), it can’t simply be ‘plugged in’ and used immediately. You need to be strategic about choosing the right partner and think about both short-term and long-term plans for your NetSuite platform.
No two implementation partners are the same; some will be better suited to your company’s needs than others. Many partners specialize in specific industries and verticals, so you may be able to find one that has worked extensively with businesses like yours in the past.
A NetSuite implementation is a company-wide project, so when considering a partner, we recommend taking a similar approach to hiring a new employee.
Yes, they’re the NetSuite expert, but they need to demonstrate they understand your industry, respect the company culture and team, show a good grasp on your working vision and daily running of the business, and preferably have had experience with similar projects.
Here are some key qualities you should look out for when hiring a NetSuite partner:
NetSuite partners will have core technical knowledge and a deep understanding of the software, to get the most value from your investment, it’s imperative to examine their business acumen too.
Think about things like: do they approach NetSuite as a business-first initiative, rather than just a technological one? Do your goals align? Can they predict a solid return on investment for the implementation?
The right partner will be able to demonstrate evidence of how they’ve used their expertise to solve problems and deliver results for previous clients. Find out how long a partner has been working with NetSuite, how many implementations they’ve done, and make sure you ask for case studies on previous projects.
Quiz them on how they achieved successful outcomes, asking things like what were the company pain points? What did the implementation do for the business? Did they run into any challenges along the way? and How did they address them?
As well as quizzing them, be sure to ask for client references too.
Studies have shown that almost two-thirds of businesses have issues when implementing a new CRM or ERP system. In our recent salary survey, we discovered a recurring problem with most NetSuite implementations was delays within the project. We found 57% of our participants stating most delays were due to poor planning prior to migration.
Many implementation delays can be avoided if you and your NetSuite partner plan appropriately from the start, and follow this plan diligently with a structured approach. Make sure your partner can achieve an effective and efficient workflow, from installation through to training, by balancing available resources and keeping your project within budget and on time.
An excellent methodology should be holistic, thinking about the entire process meticulously, from the tools you use to everyone involved, it should be quality-focused, with timing and methods aiming to minimize disruption. It should also embrace uncertainty, with contingency plans for changes or problems along the way. Agile methodologies are popular today, as they allow for new software to be implemented while keeping the business running as usual.
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Be sure to have an open dialog with your NetSuite partner, they should tell you exactly what to expect in terms of pricing and any hidden costs so that you won’t run into any budgeting problems halfway through implementation. They should communicate project breakdowns, timelines, and deadlines clearly and frequently to keep everyone informed and on the same page.
It’s highly recommended selecting a partner that uses project management software to communicate things like approvals, milestones, and feedback too. Why? Because otherwise, you’ll end up with masses of emails and unstructured titbits of communication, which can be challenging to keep track of post-implementation.
A quality NetSuite partner should be keen to gain a deep understanding of your business from the start. This means they can combine their product expertise with your context to define the scope of the project, and give reliable strategic support.
Look for an implementation partner that is also an advisor, advocate, and someone you can trust. They should be committed to your success before and after the go-live date, by recommending steps based on helping your company’s needs.
A partner may have lots of experience under its belt, but don’t be swayed simply because they have a long list of clients; industries vary greatly in terms of processes, regulations, and customization needs. Make sure that your partner has extensive experience not just with NetSuite, but working with businesses in your field too. This is important because you want somebody who understands and aligns with your individual pain points and needs as a business.
Different companies within industries often have surprisingly similar problems when it comes to their CRM or ERP systems. A partner with matched experience is likely to have encountered the same problems you have had before, and will already have a set of ideas and potential solutions on hand.
“Companies looking to implement NetSuite should look for a partner who has clearly demonstrated success and experience in previous deployments. Look to the partner to offer relevant referrals in other deployments,
“Further, your implementation partner should take a consultative approach to your business. They should understand your company’s needs and provide advice on the best approach to solving your business problems. Beware of the implementation partner who seeks to offer an ‘out of the box’ approach with no evidence of needs analysis or understanding your business.
“A partner should be able to offer a clear timeline to execution and a clear onboarding process. They need to be focused on your success and offer a clear accountability structure. Integration partners should also demonstrate an efficient and repeatable onboarding platform with testing. Like any good partnerships, tried and true and invested in your business is the way to go!” Lindsay Carreau, Positive Venture Group
Managing the change within the business and amongst the staff can often be the toughest part of the process. To help relieve that pressure, your chosen partner will need to have a set of soft skills that can mirror their talented technical skills.
As well as implementing the software, your partner will need to work with employees on things like training and user adoption. Remember, they could be capable, well-qualified, and have lots of experience but still be a bad ‘cultural fit.’ The right partner will empower teams to work with the software.
Lack of user adoption is another widespread reason that software implementations fail. Although rolling out NetSuite is the end goal, you simply won’t get the best use out of the software without stakeholder buy-in. Your partner’s ability to mesh well with teams and manage change is arguably the essential factor for a successful CRM or ERP implementation.
The most successful businesses tend to be those that see the value in a long-term consulting partnership. If you can build up trust with your partner from the outset, then you’ll have a great foundation to build upon in the future.
You want a partner that can maintain and optimize the system as your company grows. It can be expensive and disruptive to change partners, so check your partner is committed to supporting you after you go live before you bring them on board.
Ultimately, businesses deploying NetSuite need help from a partner that is both an expert in NetSuite, and ready and able to consult on the client company’s pain points and goals.
Through using a knowledgeable implementation partner, you can roll out a transformative business software system to address current pain points, and also build a stable relationship with experts who can help adapt and scale the platform as your business grows.
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