It would be wise of ERP buyers to consider the health of its partner community when choosing new ERP software. In the NetSuite ecosystem in particular, roughly 50% of all new NetSuite customers choose to license and implement through NetSuite Partners, referred to as NetSuite Solution Providers.
NetSuite Partners come in all shapes and sizes but in general have a common objective, to provide software, services and solutions to the NetSuite community.
Currently, NetSuite has three distinct NetSuite partner programs:
- SuiteCloud Development Network (SDN): SDN partners consist of independent software vendors (ISVs) focused on building NetSuite extensions and applications on the SuiteCloud platform. You can research some of the SDN Partners and applications here: www.suiteapp.com
- NetSuite Alliance Partners: The Alliance Partner program is a newer program consisting of large partners that only provide implementation services for clients. The software evaluation and purchase is assisted by NetSuite's direct sales team.
- NetSuite Solution Providers: The NetSuite Solution Provider program has been around for many years. Solution Providers assist clients with both NetSuite licensing and services. NetSuite Solution Providers come in many shapes in sizes with varying degrees of skills and competence.
NetSuite Solution Providers are comprised of business application experts and/or consulting organizations that provide expertise designed to deliver holistic ERP solutions for organizations that are looking to leverage cloud based applications to scale their businesses.
Working with a NetSuite partner can have a transformational impact on your business, however it is important to choose the right partner, one that truly aligns with your needs, goals and culture.
What Do You Gain by Working with a NetSuite Partner?
There are many ways that a NetSuite partner can help you get the most out of your NetSuite investment. Here are a few of the common areas of focus of NetSuite Solution Providers:
#1: Save On NetSuite Cost
There's much to be said on NetSuite Pricing & Licensing, in fact I wrote an exhaustive blog on this one topic. In a nutshell, it’s the responsibility of a NetSuite Solution Provider to help clients evaluate NetSuite with the needs of the organization in mind. This can be accomplished through NetSuite demos, NetSuite trials or attending local events.
NetSuite partners while sometimes referred to as Value Added Resellers (VARs) are not technically VARs. Instead NetSuite Solution Providers actually co-sell NetSuite licenses with the aid of NetSuite's channel team.
For customers that prefer a direct relationship with a software vendor this is a great model. The client get access to a non-biased consulting firm with your best interest in mind as well as direct access to NetSuite's employees. Since NetSuite Solution Providers help clients license NetSuite for a living they can generally provide tremendous insight and value with your NetSuite license subscription.
#2: A Proven Methodology
In addition to NetSuite licensing, Solution Providers assist clients with implementing NetSuite. No two implementations are identical however there are several common themes when implementing NetSuite. The overall NetSuite implementation cost will be largely dependent upon the methodology approach. Waterfall or agile, offshore or onshore resources, custom integration or connectors, you get the picture.
#3: NetSuite Extensibility
Some NetSuite Solution Providers are also NetSuite integration partners, meaning they have system integration expertise along with NetSuite proficiency.
NetSuite was built from the ground up to be highly extensible both in terms of customizations and integrations therefore offers several methods for integrating NetSuite with other applications.
Common integration examples in the NetSuite space include:
- NetSuite to a best of breed CRM (e.g. Salesforce, Zendesk, HubSpot)
- NetSuite to best of breed E-commerce platform (e.g. Shopify, Magento)
- NetSuite to 3rd Party Logistics Provider (3PL )
- NetSuite to online retailers (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Walmart)
Some NetSuite Solution Providers provide custom integration solutions while others align themselves with various integration iPaaS platforms such as Celigo, Jitterbit or Dell Boomi.
If your NetSuite initiative requires integration needs it would be wise for you to work with a NetSuite partner that has a experience with NetSuite integration projects and can help you understand and weigh your options. Having your NetSuite implementation and integration run by a single organization will be a huge asset during your ERP project.
#4: Greater ROI Through Ongoing Optimization
Most NetSuite Solution Providers offer an optimization and/or support program. These programs provide ongoing support and consulting to customers after they are live on NetSuite.
The most successful NetSuite customers tend to be those who see the value in having a long term partnership with a consulting firm to provide continuity and value long after deploying NetSuite. Having a team that knows you, your business, your instance can be invaluable to getting the most return out of your NetSuite investment.
#5: Tailored Training
One of the key metrics to determine whether a ERP system initiative was successful or not is how well the end users are embracing the change.
Its not uncommon to hear of organizations implementing new software only to find out that end users are back to their old habits of using spreadsheets because the new system is difficult to navigate, hard to get reports out of or doesn't provide them the info they need to make decisions.
Often times this comes down to equipping the end users with sufficient training. NetSuite Partners can provide custom training engagements and can also sell NetSuite training offered by NetSuite's training department.
Your NetSuite partner will be able to prescribe a training option that makes sense for your organization, needs and budget.
#6: Data Migration Guidance
Data migration is a key aspect to any ERP initiative and one that is sometimes overlooked during the sales process.
Many NetSuite Partners do not offer data migration services. They may provide some high level direction and oversight but you will be ultimately responsible for getting data from legacy systems and bringing it into NetSuite.
If you have concerns about getting data from your existing system into NetSuite make sure you have a partner that is comfortable with assisting with your data migration project.
Is Working with a NetSuite Partner a Good Idea for You?
It depends on your goals and preferences. It might be a good idea to consider working with a Netsuite Partner if…
- You don’t have experience negotiating ERP contracts. An experienced partner knows what to ask for and when in order to help you get the best deal and avoid the pitfalls associated with “not knowing what you don’t know.”
- Flexible payment arrangements & leverage are important to you. Most partners bill in milestone increments rather than a single upfront payment which is typical when purchasing through NetSuite direct. If you've spent your entire implementation budget upfront you dont have any recourse should you decide to change out your implementation team.
- You are looking for on-going comprehensive support & continuity from the team that performed your implementation. If you work with a larger organization or NetSuite direct its likely you will end up with different teams supporting you throughout the duration of your NetSuite usage.
How to Find the Right NetSuite Partner for your ERP Project
There are many NetSuite Partners for you to choose from, partners vary in area of industry focus, level of expertise and regions they serve.
Choosing the right NetSuite partner is both a short-term and long-term strategic decision, where “fit” is equally as important as capability and experience.
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