Recently we were asked to comment on the in’s and out’s of building a NetSuite Implementation team. Should the members be contract or permanent? Anderson Frank has written a blog post on the topic and I think it’s a useful overview of the thinking. At Plative, we think there should be a balance between having in-house expertise and leaving some of the more complicated work to partners like ourselves.
NetSuite implementations can range, from quite small and quick implementations of just core functionality, to very large, complex, and ongoing development projects. For this reason there is no single answer for who needs to be on a project team and for how long.
At the most basic level, everyone company who is implementing NetSuite should have somebody in each department who can be considered an expert in how NetSuite works in that area. This often means getting people properly trained. A common mistake for example, is saying, “Our CFO knows finance, so they should be good to implement NetSuite.” Finance as a general topic area doesn’t deal in NetSuite best practices.
A small to medium sized company should have someone who can cover basic admin functions in NetSuite. They should be familiar with all the implemented modules. They should be able to add users, roles and modify forms. They should be tasked with importing new data into the system and checking for data quality. They should be comfortable with almost all of the reporting and searching functionality in NetSuite and have the responsibility of helping users getting the right KPIs, searches and reports on their dashboards.
This “basic” admin function can be outsourced to a local, or more often, remote partner, but over time as the workload grows, many clients develop this expertise in house.
Often, one or more functional experts will be involved during the NetSuite implementation. Even for larger companies, these are typically contract consultants from the Partner involved in implementation. The role can be as a worker, who does the majority of the work in planning and configuration, or they may operate as a coach and simply guide the client through the tasks of enabling NetSuite. Regardless, ensure that this person or team has a deep experience with NetSuite so as to avoid common pitfalls. Typically this means having seen many many NetSuite clients in action.
In larger companies, it is a good idea to have a certified NetSuite functional expert on staff when that person doubles as a project manager for the implementation and follow on customization and integration projects.
Developers are a key component of an implementation team, especially for complex jobs. To determine if they should be internal employees or if one should contract a NetSuite partner for work, one needs to examine the customization project plan, or list of improvements that need to be made during the implementation and after. A single developer may not have the depth of experience in the area required; Finance vs eCommerce vs Integration for example so it is important to categorize projects by functional area. Planning out phase 2 and phase 3 of your NetSuite deployment will help assess if you need a developer or two full time.
In general, it is often useful to develop internal employees and get them trained on how NetSuite works so that they can make quick changes and optimize their experience with the system. This will generally increase satisfaction with the system as a whole. Having an outside Partner available to consult on or handle very complex NetSuite sub-projects can be helpful as they’ve seen most challenges multiple times.