New Release Perspective: NetSuite Updates Targeting Tech, Media & Telecom

By - April 19, 2021

Recent NetSuite enhancements increase efficiency and automation for companies within the Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) sectors. This article reviews some of the most impactful updates in recent releases with a focus on features beneficial to TMT organizations.

Project Management

In NetSuite, projects can be tracked to varying degrees of detail. A basic project record can categorize revenue and expenses without establishing tasks, adding resources or recording time. On the other end of the spectrum, a detailed work breakdown including tasks, activities, milestones and resources can be configured for each project. Optionally, employees or third party contractors can record time in NetSuite. Time entries can be associated to specific project tasks and activities, both internal and client-related. Billable entries pass through an approval process and form the basis of client invoices for projects billed according to a Time & Materials model. Although time tracking adds complexity to the system, the payoff includes increased visibility into the true costs of services rendered and a more accurate and detailed view of project profitability.

Recent enhancements to NetSuite Projects and Time Tracking include:

Improved ability to modify and correct time entries

    • Project Managers can bulk edit time entries for their assigned projects in addition to editing individual entries. Make sure your Project Manager user role has full permission to ‘Bulk Time Entry Modification’.
    • A rejection note can be added when time entries are rejected in bulk.

Increased visibility to time entry edits and changes

    • The time modification request record is now available to use with Analytics workbooks allowing users to audit time entry edits using NetSuite’s next generation reporting tool.

Greater flexibility in configuring time thresholds for vendor and employee time

    • A new preference allows you to disable time thresholds for vendors while continuing to apply them to employees.

New expense report policy feature uses pre-defined rules to limit the expenses your employees can enter

    • Project-specific rules ensure that expenses coded to a project are among the permitted expense types and fall within the allowed amount limits.

Enriched capabilities within Advanced Project Budgeting feature around project setup and revenue estimation

    • Load work breakdown structure and budget from a template allowing more efficient and consistent setup of project records.
    • See revenue estimates immediately after defining a WBS item. Previously, charges had to be entered and generated prior to seeing an updated revenue estimate.
    • Excel-style interface enables user-friendly updates to cost and revenue budgetary estimates.

New subtab on project record provides at-a-glance visibility to key project indicators

    • Expense To Approve – notifies the project manager about unapproved expense lines
    • Time Not Tracked – notifies the project manager about untracked planned time
    • Time To Approve – notifies the project manager about unapproved time entries

Revenue Recognition

In the last several years, ASC 606 brought a host of challenges to TMT companies, many of whom had to implement significant changes to their revenue recognition processes to comply with the new accounting standards. NetSuite’s Advanced Revenue Management module (ARM) provides an integrated solution to manage the often complex recognition rules required under 606.

Although the 606 adoption deadline is now in the past, obtaining visibility to deferred revenue and maintaining compliant recognition practices is an ongoing challenge for many businesses. Fortunately, NetSuite continues to improve upon the ARM engine, often taking into consideration feedback and enhancement requests from existing clients.

Following are some of the recent improvements to ARM functionality:

 New popup on Revenue Arrangements provides quick view of planned revenue, recognized revenue and invoiced amounts.

    • Previously, this information was not available in a consolidated view and users would need to run multiple reports to obtain this detail.

Enhanced capability to manage Subscription Revisions / Change Orders

    • Prior to 2020.1, subscription change orders would update the original revenue elements for the subscription, often altering the allocation of existing elements.
    • A new accounting preference provides the option to create new revenue elements for subscription change orders instead of modifying the original elements. The new preference ensures that the revenue impact of the subscription change orders is compliant with 606 requirements.
    • With the new preference enabled,  you can use either retrospective or prospective merge to combine revenue arrangements for subscriptions.

Option to disable creation of Forecast Plans

    • A new accounting preference allows companies to disable creation of Forecast Plans. Depending on the type and timing of revenue triggers, forecast plans may or may not prove useful for certain businesses. The ability to disable their creation reduces processing time and prevents creation of unnecessary records.

Subscription Billing

As many technology companies shift toward a SAAS model, businesses must increasingly consider not only what they sell but also how they sell it. SuiteBilling, NetSuite’s subscription billing solution, aims to provide companies with maximum flexibility in pricing and selling while providing real-time visibility into billing operations and recurring revenue streams. Subscriptions can include a mix of one-time, recurring and usage-based fees utilizing volume, tier and/or flat pricing models.

Recognizing the importance of efficient management of the entire subscription lifecycle, recent enhancements to SuiteBilling simplify the subscription revision and renewal process and tighten the integration with ARM for subscription revenue recognition.

Significant SuiteBilling enhancements include:

New SuiteAnalytics offering: Monthly Recurring Revenue Dataset and Workbook

    • Standard workbook provides analytics on recurring revenue, churn, upsell, downsell, and renewal revenue for subscriptions.
    • Modify the dataset and workbook templates to include additional fields and filters and use built-in data visualization tools to create pivots, charts and graphs
    • Views included in the standard workbook:
      • Monthly Recurring Revenue Year-over-Year
      • Current Month Recurring Revenue
      • Monthly Recurring Revenue by Class
      • Recurring Revenue Sources
      • Upcoming Renewals
      • Top 10 Performing Items Last Month

Support for Subscription Items on Invoice Groups

    • As of 2020.2, subscription items can be included on Invoice Groups along with other transaction lines. The invoice groups feature gives businesses the flexibility to meet their customers’ expectations for invoice presentation without sacrificing the underlying subscription and transaction detail in NetSuite.

New Subscription Revision record provides greater visibility to contract modifications and associated revenue impacts

    • Revisions are accessible from links on the Subscription Line record or on the Subscription Change Order record.
    • Provides robust audit trail to contract and revenue changes over the lifecycle of the contract.
    • Subscription change orders cannot be deleted. Change orders that should not proceed may be voided , ensuring that they will not have an impact to charge amounts while preserving the audit trail.

Increased automation of revenue management for evergreen subscriptions

    • New preferences allow automatic extension of evergreen subscription end dates.
    • To guarantee an uninterrupted revenue stream, set each preference to an integer value of 1 to 120, ensuring that the values are longer than the longest billing cycle in use.

Support for bulk operations allowing update and/or removal of subscription-related records via the Mass Update tool

    • Delete or void erroneous or unnecessary charge, usage or change order records
    • Set Charge stage to Non-Billable
    • Update effective date of change orders

Sequential Liability

Released in 2020, the Sequential Liability SuiteApp helps companies to manage cash flow from a project perspective. When a company makes purchases that relate to client projects, this SuiteApp provides a solution to ensure that vendors are only paid once clients have paid for the related products / services. Advertising and Media companies are ideal users of this functionality as they typically have a high volume of pass through expenses requiring careful cash management.

Reports provided by the SuiteApp deliver a unified view of project Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable balances, allowing a rapid assessment of the cash flow position of each project and drill-down visibility to the individual transactions comprising the A/R and A/P balances. Previously, users would need to develop multiple saved searches to obtain this information as it is not possible to create a single query due to the limited number of joins available in saved searches.

From the new Project A/P – A/R Summary page, users can also see bank account balances and create vendor payments with pre-filled data from the summary page. For Accounting Center roles, the Sequential Liability Dashboard Portlet provides instant visibility to Payments, Receipts and A/P and A/R Balances.

Available free of charge, the Sequential Liability SuiteApp can be installed and configured in a matter of minutes. Check out SuiteAnswers Article 91794 for a video overview of the functionality and links to instructions and best practices related to the feature.

Conclusion

Technology, Media and Telecom companies are a significant and influential group within NetSuite’s customer base. As such, Oracle continues to invest in features targeted to these verticals, ensuring that NetSuite remains a preferred ERP solution for TMT organizations.

To learn more about how your company can leverage these features, please reach out to the RSM NetSuite practice by contacting us at NetSuite@rsmus.com or call 855.437.7202.

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