ERP implementations are notoriously tedious and often quite intimidating for a business just beginning the process. With most ERP systems affecting multiple departments and teams, you want to ensure that the implementation is smooth and minimally invasive. Your goal should be to avoid lingering issues that could cause your business to not embrace the software change.

No implementation is ever “perfect.” However, understanding the necessary steps and research needed can save you from a nightmare implementation — costing your business more time, money, and stress. Although not extensive, we have identified some of the key factors you should look out for when planning your NetSuite ERP implementation.

How Do You Implement NetSuite?

Implementing a new NetSuite ERP system is no small task. With an ERP running at the core of your business operations, there is no room for critical errors that could interfere with your day-to-day business. ERP implementations are often broken up into different phases:

  • Planning and preparation

    • Use this phase to decide which suite your business will be using. If you are working with a partner, target dates and the resources needed to execute the implementation. Investing time and research into a detailed implementation plan can save your business from costly complications down the road. 
  • Software configuration

    • After creating your implementation plan, it’s time to begin executing it. The configuration phase includes setting up your NetSuite ERP system and specific customizations, integrating any existing software and/or hardware you will continue using, and the configuration of training modules, if necessary. 
  • Training and testing

    • The testing phase allows you or your implementation partner time to ensure the basics of the ERP system work flawlessly with any extra modules or features that you might have added. More often than not, there will be additional user training and testing during this phase. This will help your employees get a better grasp of your new ERP system and embrace the upcoming change. Without proper user training, you risk taking longer to move away from previous legacy systems and processes. This could lengthen your implementation time. 
  • Go-live

    • Now that you have taken the steps to optimize your ERP system, train your employees, and migrate your data, all that’s left is to “flip the switch.” Your team should be ready to use the newly completed system without complications.

How Long Does NetSuite Implementation Take?

ERP implementations are a major project for any organization. You must take into consideration the time it takes for preparation, implementation, training, and adaptation for the system to operate at full capacity. It’s better to take your time versus rushing an implementation. Below are a few of the factors that can influence how long your NetSuite implementation might take:

  • Company size

    • Your company size, including the number of employees that will need a license on your ERP system, is a huge component of the length of your implementation. Larger companies must take into consideration the amount of training each employee will need, the customizations needed for the ERP system to work efficiently, and the number of departments affected by the implementation.
  • ERP system complexity

    • As previously mentioned, larger companies will most likely require a more complex system with different customizations and features than smaller companies might need. At the end of the day, no two ERP systems are the same. Every business will have different needs for its system to flourish.
  • Data migration

    • Nobody wants to lose data stored in their previous system — especially during the ERP implementation phase. If your business is working with a lot of data that needs migrating from your previous system to your new ERP system, expect to set aside a good bit of time to ensure minimal data loss.

ERP implementations, when done correctly, should take around 4-6 months. This estimate is heavily influenced by the factors mentioned above. It can take even longer to implement a more robust ERP system. Poorly planned implementations can take up to 1-2 years, depending on the issues that arise and how severe they are. Thankfully, the NetSuite implementation process tends to be faster than that of the competition. Add on an ERP partner that has implemented tens to hundreds of projects and you should be set for a relatively easy implementation.

How Much Does It Cost to Implement NetSuite?

Estimating the cost of a typical NetSuite implementation is extremely difficult due to the numerous customizations and different plan options that your business might need. Our partners at NetSuite break down ERP implementation budgets into three categories:

  • Technical costs

    • The age and complexity of your current technical systems will ultimately determine how big this portion of the budget will be. Technical costs will cover the different licenses, software, hardware, and other related implementation costs. Additionally, technical factors such as hardware and software upgrades, maintenance and support, and customizations can affect the final cost. 
  • Workforce costs

    • Workforce costs are all your people-related costs. This includes the education and training costs associated with internal team members as well as optional external costs, such as consulting, project management, and even the possibility of hiring additional employees to assist your implementation. The size of your company will likely determine how you handle people-related costs.
  • Data migration costs

    • Data migration is arguably one of the most important components of any ERP implementation. Due to the sheer amount of data that businesses gather and the complexity of transferring it from one system to another, unanticipated costs can appear in this category more often than they do in the other two.

By taking into consideration how complex your customizations will be, the number of licenses needed, the amount of data migration required, and other factors, you can come up with a more polished estimate for your NetSuite implementation. A more thorough planning process should help eliminate the random, unanticipated costs that pop up. However, best practices suggest planning to spend at least one percent of your organization’s operating budget.

For more facts that can affect the final cost of your ERP implementation, check out our Key Costs to Budget for a Successful ERP Implementation blog post.

Should You Implement NetSuite Yourself?

One of the more important decisions businesses encounter during implementation planning is whether they should work with a consultant, or partner, to get their ERP system setup correctly. Working with an ERP partner can save your business time and money while also ensuring your ERP system is customized specifically for your business and deployed in a timely manner. 

If contacted early in the planning phase, ERP partners can help businesses pick the right licenses to make sure they don’t overpay or under budget for different suites and/or features. This will ensure that you are getting the most out of your NetSuite investment and not purchasing certain features that aren’t necessary for your specific ERP system.

Most businesses implementing their first ERP system quickly find that they do not have the manpower to handle a full implementation on their own. An ERP partner can take over the project management side of the implementation. This allows you to focus on your business operations rather than the ERP system deployment. This is a huge help for smaller companies that are juggling multiple responsibilities, roles, and workloads that prohibit them from focusing on the implementation. This ultimately raises your chances for implementation success.

More importantly, working with an ERP partner, such as Entartes, grants you access to their expertise and experience. These teams often have been specializing in ERP software and implementations for decades and provide a service that you can trust. They know what’s best for your specific company size, industry, and budget to craft a system that works for you.

Key Takeaways From This Blog

  • By doing more research and planning beforehand, you can save your business from costly mistakes. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out to a partner to see what they can offer to help your NetSuite ERP implementation go smoothly.
  • You should expect around 4-6 months to implement your ERP, however, this timeframe can increase if things go poorly. Create realistic deadline expectations depending on the size of your company, the number of employees, and the complexity of your ERP system.
  • ERP system budgets vary greatly depending on your business's needs but you can expect to budget for at least one percent of your organization’s operating budget. 
  • Partners give you access to years of experience and expertise to help you craft the most efficient ERP system possible while allowing you to focus on your day-to-day operations.
Maher Chamma

Principal at Entartes

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