Finally, NetSuite Financial Statements Produced in Excel

This article is relevant if you are not satisfied with NetSuite’s built-in Financial Statement report writer to create Balance Sheets, Income Statements / Profit & Loss, and Cash Flow Statements and you wish you could instead just use Excel without difficulty.

Background

NetSuite’s Financial Report writer works generally well. However, for many organizations, it simply does not offer enough flexibility. In contrast, Excel is the ultimate tool for flexibility. Yet, you can’t easily get to your NetSuite financial data in Excel. Until now!

Here are some limitation examples to NetSuite financial statement report writer:

  1. Rigid Titles: The account description always starts in the first column on the left. What if you want it to be in the middle?
  2. Relative Date Columns: What if you want a rolling 12 month income statement with the current month at the far right and the previous 11 months to the left?
  3. Multiple Budget Displays: What if you want to display two budget scenarios against your actual performance?

I can go on. The point is, when you need to get control over what you want to do, an accountant’s instinct is to first think Excel.

NetSuite’s Enterprise Reporting (ODBC) is only Half the Solution

The general response to the NetSuite reporting challenge is to get connectivity to your data through NetSuite’s ODBC add-on. This is a good start but the way information is organized is excellent for operational or management reporting — and this works well with common third party reporting tools (insiders call these “banded report writers”) such as Crystal Reports or even Microsoft Access.

But when it comes to Financial Reporting, you need something different from a “banded report writer“. You need a tool with the flexibility to understand a Financial Row and Financial Column and and mechanism to assemble these constructs into meaningful formats (e.g, an income statement).

Example tools include Microsoft FRx or Infor F9. But to get these financial report writer products to work, they need information in a specific, proprietary format. Unfortunately, these formats drive you to start a project which often looks like building a data warehouse.

We worked with a client that desperately needed superior financial report writing capacities. While they possessed NetSuite’s ODBC and they had in-house Crystal Report skills, building a financial statement was a challenge. Their preferred format was Excel. We worked together to evaluate tools to produce a solution.

We started on this journey understanding that it comes with a commitment. Here is what you will encounter if you travel this path:

  1. You will learn that you need to extract data out of NetSuite on a regular basis into a target database repository that your financial reporting tools can read.
  2. You will need to setup IT infrastructure — somewhere, by someone.
  3. You will need to maintain and monitor the data extracts and loads — daily.
  4. Your reports will not be real time. When you make a journal entry in NetSuite, the change will not reflect in your report until the next scheduled data load.

In my mind, this is all going backwards — aren’t these some of the reasons we adopted NetSuite? We want ease of use, real-time, and no IT.  Let’s avoid all this if we can.

The Excel Financial Reporting Solution

While in good faith on the journey to build a “traditional” solution, sure enough, many technical risks emerged, and different technology offerings were evaluated and explored. We had to pull back a number of times resulting in waste and dissatisfaction.

Finally, the client found a product by a firm in the United Kingdom that was under development but not ready for general release. For the last decade, the firm, Solution7, had brought Excel based financial reporting capacities to a number of old-school client-server accounting packages. And Solution7 was now seeking to extend its expertise to the NetSuite platform.

My client worked closely with Solution7 to stabilize the product while my firm advised on specific NetSuite considerations. In due course, it became quite clear: it was a breakthrough!

Formula Based Excel Financial Reporting

If you are an Excel user, you will find this extremely intuitive. Which means every accountant and analyst will be right at home. Our client has saved at least 16 hours a month in financial report generation moving to SmartView.

SmartView leverages the NetSuite ODBC connection and an Excel Add-on. The tool connects Excel, in real-time, to your NetSuite system through simple functions:

  1. NSGLATITLE (account): returns the account name.
  2. NSGLABAL (subsidiary, account, from period, to period, class, department, location): returns a balance.
  3. NSGLABUD (subsidiary, budget category, account, from period, to period, class, department, location): returns a specific budget balance.

These three new Excel functions form the basis of producing any type of Financial Report (e.g, Balance Sheet, Income Statement / Profit & Loss, and Cash Flow Statement) so long as we are referencing general ledger actual and budget buckets.

But more is offered making Excel a powerful reporting and analysis platform:

  1. Draw lists and tables from account information using account masks.
  2. Drill down from any balance into a list of underlying transactions with link back to base NetSuite transaction.
  3. Detach the formulas and save the values to distribute to anyone without SmartView.

Compared to the any NetSuite financial reporting alternative on the market today, the pricing is very reasonable given you can solve your financial statement challenges with practically no assistance.

Client Endorsement

The client is delighted.  See the endorsement in the Official NetSuite Community Network on LinkedIn.

Download 30 Day Risk Free Evaluation

Because we helped Solution7 work on a mutual client to stabilize the product, they have offered my firm, Prolecto Resources, a promotion that I can pass to you.  For a limited time, you can try out the software free without any financial risk.  And, they Solution7 is offering “early adopter” pricing.

If you already have NetSuite’s ODBC module, and Excel, you are ready to evaluate SmartView. Just fill out the form below or visit our site and we will send you a link to the software.

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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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| Tags: , , , , , | Category: Accounting, Management, NetSuite, Reporting | 4 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Posted October 24, 2014 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the informative article Marty. Do you know how this product compares to Solver’s BI360?

  2. Posted October 26, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Hello Tim,

    I do not have an assessment of how it compares. But I suspect that BI360 is more a traditional data warehouse reporting solution whereas SmartView takes a completely different approach to producing financial statements from Excel. With SmartView, there is no need for an intermediate database and because it is Excel, you can layout your financial statement in any fashion that fits your requirements — that “blank canvas” layout approach is generally difficult to do with a banded report writer.

    Marty

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