An obvious first step for a new customer is to adapt the suite to work according to company policies and processes. If you are using the whole set of NetCRM and Advanced Accounting modules, this activity can keep you busy for a long time -- not just assigning users and defining their roles, but also configuring automatically numbered transactions, defining billing terms and finance charges for late payments, defining rules for handling leads and support cases, creating an inventory structure, and setting up your online store. Powerful customization features were one of the highlights of Oracle SBS, and these have been further improved in NetSuite.
An obvious concern if your business applications are hosted outside your company premises is the ability to easily move data back and forth. NetSuite allows you to import current data from formats such as QuickBooks, Quicken, comma-delimited text, and XML. Furthermore, at any time you can download the whole company database, for instance to feed local applications or simply to synchronize contacts with PIMs such as Outlook Express, Goldmine, ACT, or even handheld organizers.
Those are all nice features, but NetSuite's most important characteristic is that all its modules work together seamlessly to help your company keep its eye on the business ball. For example, after starting but eventually aborting an online purchase as a customer, we almost gasped with pleasure when logging back in as sales rep: A new lead on our home page pointed to our previously attempted transaction. Opening the lead, we saw the prospect name, e-mail address, and the catalog items of interest.
Obvious due-diligence for a sales rep at this point would be to prepare an offer, including a special discount to sweeten the deal; we were able to accomplish this in just a couple of minutes. We also had the opportunity to check that those items were available in our warehouse. Next, we emailed the offer to our prospect, again easily and quickly done from NetSuite.
In minutes, we had turned a prospect's casual visit to our Web site into a sales opportunity, and possibly added a new customer to our portfolio. This is an example of the power that the tightly integrated modules of NetSuite can put to work for your company. Further, we found similarly consistent behavior in the accounting and inventory management features.
With properly configured roles and business rules, NetSuite can guide employees to pay attention to the bottom line in just about any business-related activity, including purchasing goods from suppliers, managing books and inventory, reimbursing expenses, creating paychecks, and assisting customers online or via traditional channels.
In addition, NetLedger NetSuite has an appealingly affordable entry price, although the actual cost will depend on the number of transactions that your business generates. For small and midsize businesses, the cost of NetSuite should compare favorably with the cost of the IT infrastructure and personnel required to support CRM and financial applications installed in-house.