As more companies embrace “the Cloud” new application vendors continue to emerge and extend functionality to core application providers thereby enabling customers to build their "own suite" of best of breed applications. In this blog, we’ll tackle key information that you need to know in order to successfully integrate NetSuite with other applications as well as some of the ramifications you should be aware of as you plan your NetSuite integration project.
First, a brief intro about NetSuite…
NetSuite is the world’s fastest growing cloud ERP vendor, according to Gartner and used by more than 20,000 organizations worldwide, in more than 100 countries. Traditionally, its ERP Suite has been leveraged primarily by SMB companies in industries such as software, ecommerce/retail, wholesale distribution and manufacturing. However, as its offering has matured with increased functionality, larger companies have looked to NetSuite, to reduce costs and minimize its IT footprint.
NetSuite’s offerings has grown to now include NetSuite CRM,ERP,WMS, HCM (TribeHR), POS and Ecommerce (SuiteCommerce) as well as NetSuite OneWorld, a fully integrated, cloud-based ERP application suite with full support for multi-currency, language, taxation and reporting requirements, driving real-time insight and financial consolidation for multi-legal entity businesses.
Contrary, to software vendors like Sage or Microsoft, NetSuite takes more of an open source approach to customization and modification of its software. Like its enterprise-grade competitor Oracle, NetSuite has productized its approach to application integration and extensions via SuiteFlex, a technology platform that provides the tools to allow customers, partners and developers to customize NetSuite to meet specific business needs. With NetSuite, modifications or enhancements can easily be created via a web-based script between the core application services provided by NetSuite and the browser-based user interface. These interfaces are largely done using RESTful Web Services.
There are several commonly used scripts for NetSuite, depending upon the required function:
- Client scripts run on the client side and enable actions to be taken based on inputs to a form
- User scripts run on the server side, and are triggered by actions being taken with a record Scheduled scripts allow scripts to run on a schedule
- Suitelets are server-side scripts that act and behave like a web application
The SuiteFlex tools include:
- SuiteScript: With SuiteScript you can build functions, processes, and entire applications hosted in NetSuite.
- SuiteTalk (Web Services) is an integration tool that allows NetSuite to be seamlessly integrated with other legacy applications and Web 2.0 tools (e.g. maps, blogs, instant messaging) into your business process. SuiteTalk gives you the ability to use any programming language or platform that supports the SOAP standard in order to generate NetSuite business objects in that language, such as Microsoft.NET or Java.
The Challenges with NetSuite Integration
Third party application integrations is very much supported by NetSuite and in some cases can be performed by tech savvy clients using common, standards based tools. However, most small businesses lack experience with NetSuite integration and are generally better served by partnering with a reputable NetSuite Solution Provider. To make sure your integration project doesn’t create more headaches than its worth, there are a few things you should know.
Integrations with other Cloud based applications must always be developed with future upgrades in mind. Furthermore, if your organization doesn’t have a good understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, significant experience in business process improvement, as well as a good understanding of Java and Cloud applications, you could find yourself in deep trouble.
Before going down the path of a NetSuite Integration you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What are the business requirements; what will the integration allow you to accomplish; do you have the expertise in house to execute?
- Which applications are you currently running; what applications do you intend to bring online in the near future?
- Are there supported API’s for the application you would like to integrate?
- Will a direct integration suffice or do you require an integration platform to support multiple end points?
- Is your NetSuite instance customized in a way that could impact your ability have a successful integration?