Questions to Ask When Considering NetSuite Implementation Partners

A NetSuite implementation can have a powerful impact on a business, but only if it’s done correctly. Without proper planning and execution, the process could yield little more than disappointment and wasted money. That’s why so many organizations choose to hire a NetSuite implementation partner. Not only can they be more confident of getting a good result, but they can also avoid draining personnel resources during the weeks or months that it takes to finish the implementation.

A NetSuite partnership generally involves close collaboration between the partner and the organization, so it’s crucial to choose the right implementation team. How can you be sure that you’re really choosing the best one, though? To start with, by asking the questions below. The vetting process usually extends beyond this point, but if you find a NetSuite implementation partner that ticks all the boxes, you’re probably on the right track.

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Do they have a good reputation?

Customer reviews will obviously impact the answer to this question, but they’re only part of the equation. You should also be able to find expert reviews, or side-by-side comparisons from competitors. With this well-rounded approach, you’ll be able to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Finding unfavorable reviews is probably inevitable no matter how good the NetSuite implementation partner is, so it’s important to look at the big picture. If the bad reviews are sparse, and mixed with many more enthusiastic ones, it’s safe to assume that they have a sound track record. If you start seeing patterns in the complaints, though, it would be smart to look at other companies.

Is their company culture compatible with yours?

Given how long the NetSuite implementation process can be – up to a year, in some cases – you want to find an implementation partner that would mesh with your team. They’ll essentially be part of the organization for as long as the process lasts, so if it seems like they would cause unnecessary friction, that should be a dealbreaker. It doesn’t matter how great their reputation is, how competitive their prices are, or anything else that makes them seem like an appealing option. If they won’t be able to work well with your team, that will almost certainly have a negative impact on the end result.

Are they close enough to be able to work with your team in person?

While a NetSuite implementation can technically be done remotely, that really isn’t the most effective way to do things. Plus, a team that’s from a different part of the country may not be up to speed on local culture or regional conditions. Maybe this isn’t an absolute necessity, but since it will affect the implementation process, you might as well ask for a team that can work on location.

Do they have enough experience?

While having several years of experience in NetSuite implementations is great, you should also ask how much experience they have in your industry specifically. If you’re a retail shoe company, an implementation partner who specializes in integrating software companies probably isn’t the best choice.

When confirming their experience, don’t just take their word for it; it’s smart to ask for references as well. Not only will this give you an idea of how they work with companies that are similar to yours, but it’ll also confirm that they’ve been in business for long enough to know what they’re doing.

How big is the company?

No matter what size implementation partner you choose, you should be able to rely on a baseline level of service. However, smaller companies are more likely to offer a personalized experience, as well as more competitive prices.

Hiring a NetSuite implementation partner vs. completing the integration in-house

Even though there are many benefits to using an implementation partner, there are benefits to taking care of it in-house as well. That is, provided you have certain resources already available. Here’s what to consider when making the decision:

  • Do you already have team members with NetSuite experience?

Keep in mind that familiarity with ERPs isn’t enough. Since NetSuite is a very nuanced and complex platform, it needs a sure hand (or several) to guide the entire process. Without expert help, it’s quite possible that the integration process would crash and burn due to the inexperience of the team. No matter how many resources you’re working with, or how many people are on the implementation team, none of that can make up for a lack of experience.

  • Do you have the resources to handle a NetSuite implementation?

This isn’t just about funding, although that’s definitely a factor. What’s even more important is knowing that multiple team members across several departments can work full-time on the NetSuite implementation, for several months if necessary. In most cases, this would require a project manager, a system administrator, most or all of the accounting department, and perhaps a developer as well. If you hired a NetSuite implementation partner, members of your team would be spending time on the project anyway as they coordinated with the implementation partner. If they were doing it on their own, they’d essentially have to take an extended break from their regular responsibilities.

  • How complex will the NetSuite implementation be?

Out-of-the-box implementations are much easier for an in-house team to handle; they don’t require add-ons or customizations, and they only need to accommodate 10 users maximum.

Most implementations are for 10 to 100 users, and multiple entities. Add-ons and customizations are still at a minimum, and only one currency and language would be used. Depending on the presence of team members with NetSuite experience, this may or may not be feasible with in-house resources.

Complex implementations involve multiple locations, currencies, languages, and entities, with over 100 users; this kind of implementation would obviously need a high level of expertise.

The takeaway

Since even the most basic NetSuite implementations need a sure hand, hiring an integration partner is usually an obvious choice. If you know which questions to ask of potential candidates, hopefully the right partner will be just as obvious.

By Gary Bernstein