Keys to Managing a NetSuite ERP project

By - May 25, 2019

In my 15 years of leading ERP projects, my common theme for successful project outcomes is to focus on the components of people, process and technology. I have found the best way to utilize each of these components as outlined here.


One of the biggest reasons for project failures revolves around people issues – employee opposition, no perceived need for change and organizational cynicism. If not addressed, this can result in confusion, increased project costs/delays and failure to achieve project goals.

To address this component, I recommend the project team performs a Stakeholder Analysis. The purpose of the stakeholder analysis is to interview key individuals and identify their influence and feelings about the project. It’s important to include both individuals who you believe might be supporters or naysayers of the project.

How will you handle the naysayers and engage the champions? For the naysayers, understand their concerns and communicate how the new system will handle their concerns. Turn the champions into a part of the extended team to help get the organization ready for the new system.

The key outcome of the Stakeholder Analysis is the Communication plan which can include:

      1. How you intend to inform the Champions of important project information that they can communicate to the greater company community.
        1. Start with a kickoff meeting with defined roles and plan for next steps.
        2. Meet with your Champions twice a month to keep them informed of the project and it’s a great forum where you can learn new potential user acceptance issues.
      2. Use of the company intranet site to post periodic project updates or create a site if your company doesn’t currently have one.
        1. Post FAQs, highlight business issues to be solved by the project, rollout timelines.
      3. Participation in companywide meetings to share project information.


Many companies take the approach that their current business processes must be replicated as is in the new NetSuite ERP system. My experience is that many existing processes evolved in a certain way due to the constraints of the current application system or were tweaked specifically to a style desired by a former manager who no longer works for the company. I believe a better approach is that everyone should agree that very few processes are sacred and never to be changed.

The most successful NetSuite implementations look to standardize processes and don’t design custom processes unless absolutely necessary. Look to standard NetSuite first. If it doesn’t work for a critical part of your business, look for a third party bolt-on solution that’s integrated to NetSuite.

One of the first steps in your project should be to define your critical business use cases in business language and then define how NetSuite addresses the individual use cases. Make sure you have a Sandbox environment to walk through the business processes with a base configuration. Document process decisions and NetSuite configuration decisions in the use case document. Highlight any gaps in the use case document where standard NetSuite doesn’t address your necessary business process. Get estimates from a NetSuite integrator on solutions to solve the gaps.


You might believe that you are done worrying about technology decisions once you’ve chosen NetSuite as your ERP business application.

There are still decisions to be made on Project Management tools and the potential use of configuration/customization tools.

The main Project Management tool I recommend is a cloud-based tool like SmartSheet to develop and collaborate on the typical PM documents of Project Plan, Risk Log, Issue Log, and Decision Log.

Use a good integrator like RSM that understands NetSuite business processes and the underlying technical environment. RSM can design solutions for process gaps or recommend third-party solutions that are integrated with NetSuite.

Make sure you have a plan that documents if your staff or another firm like RSM will support/maintain roles, dashboards, workflows and create saved searches after you are live on NetSuite.


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