How To: NetSuite Implementations Demystified

cloud computingYou’ve decided you’re making the move to NetSuite and you’ve selected it from all the alternatives. You are now ready for a NetSuite implementation. It’s at this stage that it is important to understand what a good NetSuite implementation is and why it is so important. The truth is — software, NetSuite included, does nothing by itself – it requires people to competently run it. NetSuite’s power can only be fully realized by those who are knowledgeable and skilled in what the software is capable of offering.  This is the goal of the implementation.

You’ve decided you’re making the move to NetSuite and you’ve selected it from all the alternatives. You are now ready for a NetSuite implementation. It’s at this stage that it is important to understand what a good NetSuite implementation is and why it is so important. The truth is — software, NetSuite included, does nothing by itself – it requires people to competently run it. NetSuite’s power can only be fully realized by those who are knowledgeable and skilled in what the software is capable of offering.  This is the goal of the implementation.
For NetSuite implementations, my philosophy is to conduct a multi-phase approach. I believe this is necessary because the NetSuite software platform is so comprehensive.  In order to exploit its full capacities, it would be nearly impossible to do an implementation of everything all at once. The key is to find what the minimum amount of meaningful capability we can tackle for the first phase – this will help us solve a good portion of the issues we’re trying to address.  The goal is to keep the project scope limited, get off the old system quickly, and ensure good adoption.  This will minimize risk and realize value sooner.
In my approach to NetSuite implementations, there are three primary phases:
1. Planning and Design – The first phase is to clearly produce the project scope and gain agreement from all major actors. From there, we need to develop a shared understanding of how much data we will convert from the old system to the new system.  These questions lead us to plan the cutover from the old system to the new system. It’s important to understand if there any enhancements we should make so it fits better for the business.  All of these concerns are about gathering requirements to ensure we can configure and enhance the system.   Once we are clear about the scope, the cutover, the data conversion, and the required functoinality, we can determine the training and testing required.  All of these concerns can be developed into a detailed implementation plan which specifies the roles and responsibilities of each actor.  Actors are both in the business and part of the external implementation team.  My preference is to use Microsoft Project because it powerfully lays out all the tasks, schedule, dependencies, resources, and investments needed to produce the ultimate situation.
2. Implementation – In this phase, we now move into action; all actors know what needs be done because of Phase I planning.  We configure the system to fit the way it needs to run.  We work to migrate the data.  We enhance the system as specified.  Ultimately, this drives the testing process which to ensure the system is configured correctly. It’s here that we begin training employees so that they can learn how to use the system.  Sometimes, more testing is conducted as we now have more people that can act with the system.  Often called Acceptance, we can conduct the cut over promoted as the “go live” event.  It’s here that the old system is cut off, and the new system is live, complete with all the new data.  We don’t believe in parallel processing.  See our article here.
http://blog.prolecto.com/2010/04/27/all-talk-parallel-processing-before-going-live/
All-Talk: Parallel Processing before Going Live!
3. Support – Once live on NetSuite, we typically enter into a stabilization period.  Even with all the training, competence, or lack of it, is often revealed as we deal with real world situations. People get hands on assistance while documents are enhanced; minor software refinements are normal.  Once stable, the real joy of all the work is realized.  Should any additional support questions come up, we are there to take care.
Our three phase approach has proven to lead to solid NetSuite adoption. A good NetSuite implementation is tailored to fit the situation; given our standards for care, I believe no implementation is cookie cutter. There is a pattern of work to follow, but the idea is to not force fit the system; instead, we adapt NetSuite and our approach to meet people where they are. This requires leadership, a solid NetSuite understanding and a tenacity to overcome all challenges that invariably present themselves.You’ve decided you’re making the move to NetSuite and you’ve selected it from all the alternatives.  You are now ready for a NetSuite implementation. It’s at this stage that it is important to understand what a good NetSuite implementation is and why it is so important.   The truth is — software, NetSuite included, does nothing by itself – it requires people to competently run it.  NetSuite’s power can only be fully realized by those who are knowledgeable and skilled in what the software is capable of offering.  This is the goal of the implementation.

My philosophy for NetSuite implementations is to conduct a multi-phase approach.  Why?  The NetSuite software platform is so amazingly comprehensive!  In order to exploit its full capacities, it is nearly impossible to adopt everything all at once.  The key is to find the minimum amount of meaningful capability to tackle for the first phase – this will help us solve a good portion of the issues we’re trying to address.  The goal is to keep the project scope limited, quickly get off the old system, and ensure good adoption.  This approach will minimize risk and realize value sooner.

There are three primary phases to our NetSuite implementations:

Phase I: Planning and Design

The first phase objective is to clearly produce the project scope and gain agreement from all major actors of all the action needed.  We need to develop a shared understanding of how much data we will convert from the old system to the new system.  These questions lead us to plan the cutover from the old system to the new system.  It’s important to understand the details of  any enhancements needed to fit the software better for the business.  All of these concerns are about gathering requirements to ensure we properly configure and enhance the system.   Once we are clear about the scope, the cutover, the data conversion, and the required functionality, we can determine the training and testing required.  We gather these considerations into a detailed implementation plan which specifies the roles and responsibilities of each actor.  Actors are both in the business and members of the external implementation team.  My preference is to develop the implement plan with Microsoft Project because it powerfully lays out all the tasks, dependencies, resources, and investments that drive the schedule needed to produce the ultimate situation.

Phase II: Implementation

In this phase, we now move into action; all actors know what needs be done because of Phase I planning.  We configure the system to fit the way it needs to run.  We work to migrate data.  We enhance the system as specified.  Ultimately, this drives the testing process which ensures the system is configured correctly.  It’s here that we begin training employees so that they can learn how to use the system.  Sometimes, more testing is conducted as we now have more people that can act with the system.  Once we pass “Acceptance”, the term that illustrates we are committed and ready, we can conduct the system cutover which is usually promoted as the “go live” event.  It’s here that the old system is cut off and the new system is live — complete with all the new data.  We don’t believe in parallel processing.  See our article, “All-Talk: Parallel Processing before Going Live!”.

Phase III: Support

Once live on NetSuite, we typically enter into a stabilization period.  Even with all the training, competence, or lack of it, is often revealed as we deal with real world situations. People get hands on assistance while documents are enhanced; minor software refinements are normal.  Once stable, the real joy of all the work is realized.  Should any additional support questions come up, we are there to take care.

Our three phase approach has proven to lead to solid NetSuite adoption.   A good NetSuite implementation is tailored to fit the situation.  Given our standards for care, I believe no implementation is cookie cutter. There is a pattern of work to follow, but the idea is to not force fit the system; instead, we adapt NetSuite and our approach to meet people where they are.  This requires leadership, a solid NetSuite understanding, and a tenacity to overcome all challenges that invariably present themselves.

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Marty Zigman

Holding all three official certifications, Marty is Southern California's NetSuite expert and leads a team of senior professionals at Prolecto Resources, Inc. He is a former Deloitte & Touche CPA and has held CTO roles. For over 25 years, Marty has produced leadership in ERP, CRM and eCommerce business systems. Contact Marty to setup a conversation.

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  1. […] When planning to migrate your eCommerce system, these are some of the areas to contemplate to get over to the new environment. The same goes with planning a switch to NetSuite eCommerce.  Each assessment needs to be worked out in order to migrate the data, test and activate.  See our article: “How To: NetSuite Implementations Demystified”. […]

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