NetSuite Implementation Guide: 6 Steps for Success (2023)

October 9, 2023

Co-workers talking about the NetSuite implementation process at the office.

More and more businesses are turning to the cloud-based platform NetSuite to help run their processes. But carrying out the Netsuite Implementation steps to your company is no easy task. In this NetSuite ERP implementation guide, we'll give you the lowdown on how to implement the software for your company. We'll discuss the six most crucial steps you need to take for a successful NetSuite implementation process. By the end of the article, we hope you'll learn how to execute the implementation without hitches.

What is NetSuite implementation?

Co-workers talking about the NetSuite implementation process at the office.

NetSuite implementation is the process of adapting NetSuite software for your business. It's a long and arduous operation that may take months to execute. 

Previously, you might have used different and segregated systems. Choosing NetSuite centralizes all these systems because the platform provides countless opportunities for integration. NetSuite also allows for seamless automation of work processes. This in turn can help boost efficiency and productivity in the workplace. You can dive into the NetSuite implementation process with the team members you already have. You also have the choice to outsource the job to experts. 

The NetSuite Implementation Process

For your go-live date, the complete NetSuite Implementation Steps typically consist of planning and preparation, configuration and data migration, testing, and training.

A good project manager is essential for a successful NetSuite rollout. You should have a project leader in place before you begin any ERP deployment. A NetSuite deployment might become a full-time job for someone depending on the size of your organization. You'll want to choose a team leader who is skilled at project management.

This individual will need to be able to swiftly resolve difficulties. They must also be able to assist in keeping your NetSuite partner informed and on track as internal changes occur.

NetSuite Implementation Process: How To Implement NetSuite

1. Discovery (Project Scope)

Start with asking questions about the company. In this phase, the company figures out why implementation of NetSuite is needed for the business. Here, you'll take stock of business requirements, business processes, and the necessary digital transformation. This is so you can visualize what NetSuite can do for the company.  

In the discovery step, the team should also conduct an audit of the business's challenges and goals. This includes workflow difficulties, assessment points, and user needs. You will discuss with the CFO, CEO, administrators, managers, and other employees.  

Think of this phase as a chance to get to know your company a little deeper. Ask yourself where it can improve in terms of business processes. Determine what the different roles in the company need in the NetSuite ecosystem. All these are crucial to make your NetSuite ERP implementation tailor-fit to the operations of your organization.

Complexity is always inherent in financial data migration and integrations, so it is crucial to consult with an expert to assess the functionality, services, and business process automation that will grow your company’s revenue.

2. Planning (Project Plan)

The next step in our NetSuite ERP implementation guide is planning. In this phase, you need to consider the resources, products, and timeline for the project. 

When we talk about resources, we mean people and money. Here, consider if the current workforce you have can handle the implementation. In this phase, you bring together the team responsible for overseeing the NetSuite ERP implementation.

In some cases, you might need to outsource the implementation process to companies that provide NetSuite support on-demand. With that, you should also begin to consider how much money you're willing to shell out for the project. It's not uncommon to go overboard with planning the budget, especially if you want to make the most out of your NetSuite software. You must clearly identify the most crucial aspects to pool your resources in both discovery and planning phases. This is so you don't spend a lot of money on software functionalities or NetSuite modules you might not even need urgently.

The planning phase also includes building a change management plan. A change management plan addresses the needs of your team members. Here, you apply a structured process to lead your team during the process of change, which in this case is to implement NetSuite. Change management helps orient the people's side of the implementation, so they can adapt to the changes in their work processes.

3. Development and Data Migration

This phase is where the installation and configuration of the system take place. The fundamental setup steps are done here. This includes implementing basic NetSuite functionalities and adding client-specific settings and content.

In this phase, you also begin optimizing the features of NetSuite to fit your company's needs. You can do this by customizing dashboards, records, roles, and forms. You can also tweak the access to information certain team members have, depending on their duties for the business.

With data migration, you import business data from the different systems you've been using. This includes client and vendor information, as well as historical data from legacy systems. In this part, you should also take a look at the quality of the data you're importing. This is to prevent the migration of inaccurate and duplicate data into the NetSuite system implementation.

4. Testing

In this step, you roll out the software to check for bugs and errors. Technical testing is one of the most crucial NetSuite implementation best practices. Before your team officially dives into NetSuite, you need to make sure the software doesn't display erratic behavior. Errors can derail your team's workflow, so it's important to get rid of them before the software goes live.

The testing phase also gives the team a chance to try out the software. We call this User Acceptance Testing (UAT). Here, your team members will give the software a whirl to validate business processes. In this step, they'll see whether the configurations set up in the previous steps meet the demands of their roles. You can also use the UAT phase to introduce the software to your team members, especially those who have no idea what NetSuite is.

5. User Training

Before you fully deploy the NetSuite system implementation, you first need to formally train your team members on how to use the software. This is crucial in providing the users with a deep understanding of the system and how it can help streamline work processes. In this phase, you need to explain how the team configured the software to help the company achieve its goals.

You can build guided workflows to help team members navigate the software in real-time. You can use these NetSuite implementation guide with on-demand help widgets should the team need assistance.

Hiring NetSuite administrators can assist with seamlessly carrying out the NetSuite Implementation steps. Included in an administrator's skill set is the ability to explain NetSuite in a concise manner. Administrators also work as NetSuite technical consultants. If your team has questions about the software's features and functionalities, they can approach the company's administrator.

6. Deployment and Support

Once you're done with the initial training and testing, it's time to formally deploy your NetSuite software. You are now ready to use it for your business. All your team members should know the date of deployment. This can help them prepare for the company and workflow changes to come.

Before the go-live date, you should make sure that all team members are confident in using the software. The training sessions prior to deployment are crucial in ensuring efficiency in the last steps of implementation.

Don't expect that the job is done after deployment. NetSuite updates its software regularly. You need to keep up with these upgrades and in doing so can ensure you maximize the platform. Business changes can also influence software configurations and customizations. Your team should be ready at any time to implement new changes and innovations should the situation call for them.

In this step, you should also gather feedback from your team members about the implementation. Part of a successful implementation process is knowing how it affects your team members. Taking stock of their opinion can also pave the way for further improvement of the software.

What is NetSuite ERP Implementation?

NetSuite administrators looking over NetSuite implementation steps at the office

NetSuite ERP implementation (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a complicated process. It will take a lot of your time and resources to execute it successfully. Each step we mentioned in this NetSuite implementation guide can make or break the process, especially for ecommerce. Thankfully, having dependable software like NetSuite can help boost business performance and team productivity. As long as the road is for the implementation of NetSuite, the benefits of doing so are plenty.

NetSuite ERP Implementation Best Practices

Although no two NetSuite ERP implementations are the same, they all follow similar techniques and phases. Each sector has its own set of procedures for transferring the solution from purchase to usage as a business tool for long-term success.

The steps of an ERP installation are divided into four categories: engage, drive, enable, and convert. Granted, depending on the ERP platform you pick, the particular implementation issues and phases for your implementation strategy and checklist may change.

Implement NetSuite With These Best Practices

1. Engage

The first stage in any implementation plan is to engage with teams. The ERP project teams, which include project managers, engineers, and management, are formed here. You will be starting with kick-off calls, project budgets, timeframes, and management plans changes.

2. Drive

At this step, you must create actionable strategies for the ERP solution's future rollout. Customizations may be necessary and may need to be developed. This is also the time to design a training strategy and plan for supplying cloud-based apps or licenses.

3. Enable

The objectives in this stage focus on preparations for the go-live event. You must also accomplish moving essential data and putting the plans created in the Drive stage into action. This includes training, installation, and solution testing.

4. Convert

The last step in an ERP implementation is essentially turning on the light. Before the go-live date, businesses perform final data migrations and transfer ownership of the systems to the client.

NetSuite System Implementation Choices

When it comes to NetSuite deployment, businesses have three alternatives, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

A. Self Implementation

Self-implementation of NetSuite is not difficult, but it is not advised unless you have a background in architecting, configuring, and delivering complex business systems.

You'll need an experienced in-house implementation team to assist the process from start to finish, in addition to the knowledge. During the installation time, this will most likely be their only responsibility. This can impact their productivity since this will require all their focus.

B. NetSuite Direct Implementation

You may hire NetSuite's in-house team, known as NetSuite direct, to help you with your installation.

NetSuite's internal staff is well knowledgeable in the software's capabilities and features. This is because they are the creators of the system. They are well suited to do modifications that are not too complex. You should think about if you need post-installation assistance, which NetSuite does not provide by default.

C. NetSuite System Implementation with Partners

When compared to alternative possibilities, NetSuite implementation partners are made up of an experienced team of contractors that can provide a higher degree of knowledge.

You can count on your implementation partners to provide post-go-live maintenance and support, giving you peace of mind in the long run.

Should you need assistance with the NetSuite implementation process, don't hesitate to leave us a message. Our team is always happy to assist with all things NetSuite. We have a dedicated group of experts always ready on-demand to answer your questions.

Common Issues When Implementing NetSuite

There are several issues you can come into contact with when implementing NetSuite that you need to be familiar with. 

Planning Errors When Implementing NetSuite

The most common implementation issue is not planning correctly.  An implementation project needs to be done in stages on a set schedule or timeline.  There are so many options with the ecosystem that many problems and unexpected costs can come up if you do not plan your NetSuite integration process and implementation project with your exact business needs in mind.

Luckily, this is an easy fix!  As long as you have a trusted consultant consulting with you on the modules and features you need (whether that’s CRM options, Procure to Pay (P2P)  / AP automation, or invoicing customizations). Once you know the resources you need for the implementation project, everything becomes simple!  You can speak to our accountants and implementation consultants to discuss what your organization needs for its industry.

Data Migration Issues

Data migration requires the expertise of developers connecting different software together (oftentimes legacy on-premise solutions that can cause issues).  This can present a challenge depending on what ERP or system you are currently using, however you can always present to multiple service providers to find the right one for you.

Incorrect Methodology and Testing Procedures

It is critical to test your ERP implementation as a part of your project plan.  If your consultant or provider does not have the correct methodology and testing procedures, there is trouble ahead.

Choosing The Wrong Implementation Partner

At the end of the day, 50% of ERP implementations go wrong because the company chose the wrong partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does NetSuite Implementation Cost?

What’s The Average NetSuite Implementation Timeline?

How Long Does It Take To Implement NetSuite?

NetSuite Implementation Checklist

How Do You Choose The Right Implementation Partner or Consultant?

What Factors Contribute To A Good NetSuite Implementation

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NetSuite ACS vs Partner Support: Which One is the Best for You?

NetSuite ACS vs Partner Support: Which One is the Best for You?Getting the proper NetSuite support can make or break your implementation and ongoing success with the platform. But how do you know which support option best fits NetSuite ACS and NetSuite partners? This blog post breaks down the key differences between NetSuite’s Advanced Customer Support (ACS) and NetSuite partner support to help you make the choice that aligns with your business needs.Is your NetSuite implementation being held back by subpar support? Don’t leave your success to chance—understand the differences between NetSuite ACS and partner support to get your business's expertise.This blog post compares NetSuite ACS and partner support to help you determine the right support approach for your organization. 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This adds a Customer Success Manager and performance assessments.Architect: The highest tier designed for global and highly customized deployments. 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