Ultimate Guide: 10 Steps for NetSuite Implementation Success
New enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations like NetSuite require a substantial investment in time, good planning, and excellent technology partners to run smoothly. For best results, companies should kick off the process early and stay involved throughout the project's lifespan, versus handing off the responsibility and hoping everything works out as planned.
Even when NetSuite meets your organization’s needs perfectly, the path to success may be paved with unexpected costs, technical challenges, data migration issues, and user training problems. The good news is that there are steps you can take now to ensure your NetSuite implementation is a success, and it starts with creating a solid foundation that you can build on.
10 Clear Steps to Success
Here are key strategies that all companies can use to ensure their chances of having a successful NetSuite implementation:
1 Assemble a Great Implementation Team
ERP projects are major undertakings that require team members from your company who are leaders in their disciplines or departments, and who understand how those functions work from top to bottom. They’re seen as leaders by their co-workers and serve as subject matter experts (SMEs) in their respective areas of responsibility. Help your implementation team stand out by naming it and providing lapel pins or shirts that members can wear when they’re working on the project. This will put a spotlight on the experts you’ve recruited for this project and give team members a sense of responsibility and belonging.
2 Choose a Project Manager
Make someone the figurehead and documenter of project needs and challenges. This project manager will herd everyone to the meetings, activities, and training that will make the company successful. This is a much better approach than putting a C-level executive in charge of managing the project in his or her spare time. Many companies have tried this approach and regretted their decision. Let your internal resources shine on smaller, less complex projects, but consider hiring an experienced NetSuite consulting partner to represent you and keep the project organized along with your implementer and software publisher on larger undertakings.
3 Create & Empower a Steering Committee
Fast decision-making is crucial during a NetSuite ERP implementation, but most companies work to develop a "consensus-based" perception of how critical business decisions impact people's day-to-day jobs. The problem is that multi-layered and multi-threaded decisions will belabor an ERP implementation. Avoid this trap by empowering a steering committee to make command decisions during the implementation. Hint: make sure the committee has the right communications plan and collaboration tools in place to be able to make fast decisions that are in the organization’s best interest.
4 Write a Good Communications Plan
And speaking of a communications plan, it’s time to borrow a page from professional project managers that use the responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed (RACI) matrix to manage a project. Weekly updates should focus on your implementer’s and internal project team’s status reports and tell what’s coming up next. Use an employee newsletter that updates your staff on the need for the project, builds on the excitement, and shows how the ERP implementation will drive the company’s future success.
5 Keep It Simple!
6 Celebrate the Milestones
Your project plan will include many milestones that will be achieved over the coming months. When you cross one milestone, be sure to celebrate it before moving onto the next one. Making go-live your sole focus will cause fatigue and make it seem that the end is never going to get here. Some of the milestones to use include: Define your business goals, select an ERP solution, choose an implementation partner, define your Phase 1, project kick-off, requirements sign-off, initial configuration, and so on.
7 Choose and Train an AdministratorGreat ERP administrators understand how the system can transform your business. Identify an administrator in the early stages of the project and sign that person up for administrator training. It’s important to note that this person does NOT need previous NetSuite ERP experience. Someone with a talent and enthusiasm concerning technology; who is a good collector and documenter of requirements; and who is an excellent communicator and consensus builder; will be well suited for this important role.
8 Don’t Overlook User Training & Adoption
Quick and prescribed implementation models have revolutionized speed to ROI for powerful ERP systems. Unfortunately, some of this speed has come at the cost of proper "adoption" of the software. Rapid implementation or "Quick Success" models will get you to the go-live stage, but they don’t guarantee that your organization will adopt, use, or understand the power of your software. Many of these inadequate rapid models depend on User Acceptance Testing (UAT) as primary training tools. A better approach is to use function- or user-specific videos; remote live 1:1 and classroom training; onsite conference room training; practice guides; and properly executed UAT into a customized training plan that helps users learn and interact with the system.
9 Optimize your ERP
ERP implementations are not a set-it-and-forget affair. Once you’ve completed Phase I, it’s time to turn your new ERP into a power tool during Phase 2 of the implementation. You listened to the wants and wishes of team members who are using the system. You have an administrator/power user that’s leveraging NetSuite's dashboards, saved queries, workflow tools, and reporting. You have a C-suite executive that’s happy with the outcome so far. It’s time to take a breather, shake off the Phase 1 fatigue, and negotiate a Phase 2 statement of work with your implementer. Next, it’ll be time to become an industry disruptor and start thinking about Phase 3.
10 Selecting an Implementation Partner
If you lack the internal skills for a Netsuite implementation, choosing an experienced and certified Netsuite Solution Provider is critical to the success of the project. Your NetSuite partner will leverage NetSuite’s proven SuiteSuccess implementation methodology, which includes industry-leading best practices and reduces the business risks associated with an ERP implementation. The partner can also provide a variety of personalized implementation services to meet your specific project needs including project management, discovery, requirements analysis, system design & configuration, industry best practices, testing, training, data migration, customizations, integration, licensing, go-live, and post-go-live support.
By following these steps outlined in this article, companies can position themselves for success both during a NetSuite ERP implementation and after the system has gone live. Putting the right people in place, doing the upfront homework, celebrating the wins, and then optimizing the NetSuite ERP in subsequent phases will all go a long way in ensuring ERP implementation success and minimizing the time it takes to start getting value from your new system.
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