Ultimate NetSuite Implementation Guide

by Caleb Schmitz in , January 7th, 2022

(2023 Expert Edition)

As you begin the exploration process to finding how Oracle NetSuite Cloud ERP can transform your business into a powerhouse, it's a good idea to get some initial thoughts on how your NetSuite implementation might play out. These tips and tricks in this guide will allow you to have a better chance at a smooth implementation.

It's also always a good idea to understand the costs of a NetSuite implementation. Part of the NetSuite partner selection process is to get multiple estimates. If you need to compare NetSuite pricing options, here is an instant quote that will get sent out to you automatically based on your answers. It's a great place to start getting ballpark estimates of what a NetSuite implementation costs.

There are a series of key aspects to the NetSuite Implementation process that will decide the fate of your success or not.

Step 1: Which NetSuite Partner to use?

There are 3 key areas to look at when finding the right NetSuite Partner to use...

Vertical or Industry Focus

This may seem like a simple task, but it will require some time investment on your part to find the right fit for your organization. Some partners focus more heavily on certain verticals or industries and have a lot of experience tackling specific implementations.

netsuite essentials

Long Term Success

There is never a single NetSuite implementation that doesn't require additional support for post-go-live. Find out what types of support models they offer. Is it the same NetSuite consultants that did the initial implementation or someone different? The more it changes hands, the more time is required to get to know a new configuration that is specific to your organization.

Bandwidth Available for Your Timeline

NetSuite implementations are in high demand and take up bandwidth quickly for teams at companies of any size. If you have a tight deadline, you should reach out to smaller partners because they typically have a lower volume of NetSuite implementations. This is ideal since you won't be treated as another job you have to get done, but rather, a valued customer that needs focus and attention. If a NetSuite partner is trying to make you start later than you prefer...shop around a bit...there will be someone that is well qualified and has the availability to start right away. Most NetSuite implementations can be completed in 3 months and only companies that exceed $200 million in annual revenue tend to take longer than that for a minimum viable product. Check the availability of partners and get to know the consultants that will be on your implementation prior to signing on the dotted line.

Skills for NetSuite ecommerce

If you plan to have ecommerce as a part of your NetSuite implementation. Whether integration or SuiteCommerce implementation, this is a new variable in a partner that you need to search for. There are only a handful of NetSuite partners that have a skilled team that can effectively get a SuiteCommerce Advanced website. It is critical that you find someone who is a NetSuite Certified Commerce Agency if you want SuiteCommerce with your NetSuite implementation. NetSuite ERP and SuiteCommerce are very unique skillsets. Find out what other ecommerce websites they recently implemented. If they can't state any, they are probably blowing smoke. Having ecommerce experts on staff that has clearly have a record of ranking high on Google with SuiteCommerce customizations available will show the expertise.

Should I use NetSuite Direct?

Before using NetSuite direct for the NetSuite implementation, you should spend a little time on Reddit or ask around to see what companies that used NetSuite direct thought of the process. Generally speaking, NetSuite partners can give you more dedicated focus and are very motivated to help you succeed long term. If you really want to go with NetSuite direct, spend at least a few hours researching how the process went with other companies. There are certain cases where it may make sense.

Step 2: Requirements

You don't have to buy the licensing for NetSuite until after the requirements section. It's important to get requirements done and spend the money preparing a strategy for implementing the proper modules or deciding when to use minor customizations. There are definitely times where it will save you a ton of money avoiding a module that has more capabilities than you need and instead has simple customization to accomplish your exact needs.

Requirements are a critical stage and allow for you to pivot before getting locked into NetSuite licensing that you don't need.

You should expect to spend at least 10-30 hours in requirements to have an effective strategy and plan in place. It will take at least 10 hours to identify the specific modules and licensing solutions your business will need.

Step 3: Buy Licensing and Kick-Off

Once requirements are completed, you will know exactly which modules or add ons you need to fit all your requirements precisely. Sometimes you can get pressured into buying faster than is prudent and it's essential to pushing back so you get requirements fully completed. If you really want to ensure you are getting the right deal, go through requirements with at least two NetSuite partners before making a commitment. Requirements are billable but overpaying for more add-ons than you actually need will cost more. So you will have to balance what you are willing to do in order to be confident in your licensing solutions.

There are a couple of options when deciding who to use for purchasing your licensing: NetSuite Direct Sales or NetSuite Solution Provider.

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NetSuite direct sales typically will be able to offer up to 65% off your NetSuite licensing in certain cases. Usually, this involves buying extra or signing a longer contract period. In general, you should expect at least a 30% discount off of list price.

Solution Providers likely will never discount more than 50% off but there is a HUGE benefit to going with a solution provider that you won't really notice until you are in the system day after day. Solution providers will be managing your licensing including extra users and add-ons. For the most part, you get a better interaction and support experience through a solution provider. You can still expect to get at least 30% off the list price through a NetSuite Solution Provider.

Anchor Group is not a solution provider, but have partnered up with one we really trust and have found gives consistently fantastic support. Reach out to us if you want to get in touch with our suggested solution provider. Anchor Group just specializes in NetSuite ERP and SuiteCommerce implementations. We work closely with other solution providers or NetSuite direct to give new customers an amazing NetSuite implementation experience. Alliance Partners differ from Solution Providers since they only do implementations and don't sell licensing.

Once licensing is worked out, the Kick-Off will start as soon as your NetSuite consultants and NetSuite developers have access to your NetSuite environment. It is pretty simple to get them access, and they will begin configuring NetSuite and setting it up specifically to your requirements.

You generally will get a project lead that is a functional consultant managing the project and helping to communicate all your requirements to the rest of the implementation team. We suggest you have an introduction call with your project leader prior to signing with any company since they are your main point of contact.

A Note On Initial Steps of NetSuite Implementation - Bundle Deployment

It is easy to assume that once you are provisioned an account, it will be loaded with the necessary bundles and data to start the implementation. However, since 2021, NetSuite started the SuiteSuccess Program such that most new licenses sold by NetSuite are in reference to an edition.

The licensing edition you have comes with a predetermined set of features as well as preconfigured forms, PDFs, dashboards, and roles. In order to benefit from all these, you will need to have an implementation partner work through a deployment process specific to your edition.

The deployment process gets your newly provisioned NetSuite instance up and running, from getting the additional bundles and features operating in the system to requesting shared bundles and SuiteApps. This is a very important process, as some bundles need to be installed in a specific order, and certain features cannot be reversed once they are turned on.

Step 4: NetSuite Training and Testing

Getting NetSuite training prior to Go-Live is critical to being successful in using the system. All stakeholders and NetSuite users should have training on the essentials of NetSuite as well as a walkthrough of their day-to-day life. Sometimes, this part of the implementation reveals additional pieces to improve the system for post-go-live. In some scenarios, you may want the consultants to expand the scope of work to accommodate for any major efficiency gains that help a user in their day-to-day work.

You will want to have your implementation team build out documentation of each primary role in NetSuite for your employees to reference. It may cost a little extra for this custom documentation, but completely worth it for going live on NetSuite.

Step 5: NetSuite Go-Live

If all goes well, you have become another NetSuite success story with a nearly flawless NetSuite go-live. All your employees using NetSuite begin to make it a part of their worklives.

Your employees will still have questions so make sure the NetSuite implementation team is extremely assessable to answer questions and resolve anything that might pop up quickly.

Step 6: NetSuite Post-Go-Live Support

NetSuite requires attention to maintain and improve. There are plenty of efficiencies you can gain and your business will continue to change. It is very expensive and difficult to hire a full-time NetSuite functional consultant and developer. You will need someone who knows both extremely well to properly deliver results in support.

Recently, we had a client that is $500 million in annual revenue that has been looking for a qualified NetSuite Admin with more than 3 years of experience. They were willing to pay $150k plus benefits (~$200k in business expenses) plus a 20-30% recruiter fee. It took them 2 years to find the right candidate...and retention on these types of roles due to high demand is challenging.

This is why most companies choose to go with NetSuite managed services or a NetSuite staff augmentation plan that is customized to their business. It gives clients access to more expertise and the overall cost is a little less when considering benefits and retention rates. Anchor Group offers staff augmentation as an option that gives you a dedicated team member to be your NetSuite administrator or developer. Additionally, that person has access to getting you faster results on urgent projects by quickly pulling in other team members or by having access to specific skills that will help push the project through faster.

NetSuite Implementation Timeline

It's important to get an idea of how long your NetSuite implementation might take so you can plan the transition from the other software you are migrating away from. This is an infographic of a standard NetSuite implementation timeline that breaks out the typical project. In some cases, you will want to expand the timeline to accommodate for a larger scope of work. Most companies under $20 million in annual revenue will fit this standard NetSuite implementation timeline. There are more complex NetSuite implementations that take up to 32 weeks to complete.

This is a brief description of a simple, standard, and complex NetSuite implementation.

  • Simple – Pretty simple implementation with a smaller company with less than 10 NetSuite users. Usually annual revenue between $5 - $50 million.
  • Normal – Company might have multiple entities and require more than 4 NetSuite modules and require between 10 - 100 NetSuite users. Usually annual revenue between $50 - $200 million.
  • Complex – Large organization with annual revenue above $200 million and requiring more than 100 Netsuite users. This will have heavier customizations due to the complex web of business processes uniquely formed over the growth of the company.

Major Factors that Add to NetSuite Implementation Length

  • Data migration and the amount of data you want to clean up from the historic system (If you can, try to limit the amount of data you want to migrate to save time on the implementation.)
  • Number of staff that can be dedicated and highly available for quick responses.
  • Quantity and complexity of unique Customizations/Functional Gaps
  • Number and types of 3rd party integrations into NetSuite
  • Quantity of NetSuite Users
  • Different Types of Currencies
  • Number of Company Subsidiaries
  • Number of physical locations
NetSuite implementation timeline

NetSuite Implementation Post Go Live Timeline

There are always going to be requirements that pop up during the implementation as you begin to think more deeply about all the things you want. To help keep your implementation on track, consultants will often suggest multiple phases for post-go-live to ensure that you get moving on NetSuite with a minimum viable product (MVP). This means that some products should get pushed off until later if not critical to your business success in the short term. There should definitely be a continuous improvement plan with these ideas planned out ahead of time. That's why we often will pull together a continuous improvement timeline to help clients get an idea of where their future projects might lie. In addition, we create a cadence to identify areas of improvement that have not been fully thought of yet so we can identify low hanging fruit that will greatly improve your business transformation.

Here is the Anchor Group continuous improvement cadence after all post-go-live phases have been completed.

NetSuite services post go-live

NetSuite Implementation Partner

Anchor Group was voted the #1 NetSuite Consulting Firm by GoodFirms in 2020 and currently on track in 2021! Plus, the #2 ERP consulting firm in the United States by Superb Companies. The team collectively holds all the NetSuite certifications and has team members that have collectively completed over 50 full life cycle NetSuite and SuiteCommerce implementations. Plus the team (including NetSuite developers) is entirely located in the United States. You can be sure that you are getting the support you need without having to deal with timezones outside of the United States.

Anchor Group recent awards

Most companies prefer smaller companies because they can give them the personal attention needed without being lost in support cases or a jungle of steps to reach the right person to answer a question. Anchor Group has purposefully limited the amount of NetSuite implementations they perform each year. The reason for this is to provide top-notch NetSuite implementations and be available for Post Go-Live. The same people working on the implementations can continue working on Post Go-Live projects without being pulled away for another ERP implementation.

Common NetSuite questions

Have other questions like these common NetSuite questions?

  • Is there a “best” NetSuite implementation process?
  • How much does it cost to implement NetSuite?
  • How do I pick a NetSuite implementation consultant?
  • What are some common NetSuite implementation issues?
  • What causes NetSuite implementations to fail?
  • What are my NetSuite Implementation options?

Let's break down a few of these common questions you may have still pending...

Is there a “best” NetSuite implementation process?

The best NetSuite implementation process will be one that focuses on the unique specifics of your business. There are general guidelines like requirements, configuration, user acceptance testing, training, go-live, and support. But these are fairly general. As you get into the core requirements, you will uncover unique areas that will require unique processes to address. In general, using proper project management processes like Agile can help make the whole project go smoothly. There should also be things like a Gantt chart to show the overlapping pieces of the implementation.

How much does it cost to implement NetSuite?

The cost varies as your requirements vary. In general, most companies buy NetSuite with Advanced Financials and at least one other module. You can expect this to take about 350 hours and total anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000. Make sure to be aware of future maintenance expenses too and prepare to budget at least the equivalent to the salary of a specialized IT manager.

The reason we need to start this chapter with a disclaimer is because of complexity. Business process complexity is a critical factor in determining the cost of your NetSuite implementation. And since every business is different, it’s hard to come up with an estimate without knowing specifics.

If we had to give you a range, depending on the size of your business and complexities involved, an average NetSuite implementation could cost anywhere between $25,000 – $100,000, and possibly more. There are some primary cost factors to a NetSuite implementation. These include migration, customization, integrations with 3rd parties, and training.

How do I pick a NetSuite implementation consultant?

You should pick a NetSuite implementation consultant that has 5+ full life cycle NetSuite implementations completed in your vertical plus has touched over 20 NetSuite instances. There should be at least one person on the implementation team with these qualifications.

What are some common NetSuite implementation problems?

Lack of buy-in from employees typically results from a failure of fulling training them on the new system. You, as a C-Suite leader, should be able to manage change effectively. If you have not managed major system changes like this before, you should read some books about managing change.

Another reason for implementation issues is if you forgot to keep it simple and not focus on a minimum viable product. It's important to start small and create phases for improving the ERP over time.

What causes NetSuite implementations to fail?

Usually, it can be because you have chosen the wrong company to implement it, lack of effective training, and trying to fit in every wish list item before going live. These are all avoidable failure points and can be avoided with due diligence, proper role-specific training, and keeping pushing out wish list items for after your initial go-live.

What are my NetSuite Implementation options?

There are really only three primary options for your NetSuite implementation.


This would be if you wanted your own staff to implement NetSuite. This is where a majority of NetSuite implementations fail. The only time where it would make sense for this is if you have NetSuite developers and consultants already on staff with enough experience. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely you will be satisfied with NetSuite.

Direct Implementation:

This would be to use NetSuite, the company, directly. They have a lot of good statements of works and ways to reduce pricing through fixed bids. However, Netsuite's implementation and professional services do not have a good reputation for being consistently high quality. It's really a luck of the draw on who you get assigned and where in the world they are located. Companies are often tempted to go this route since they are the makers of the product, but NetSuite partners tend to pick off the most talented consultants.

Partner Implementation:

The majority of NetSuite implementation with positive feedback comes out of a NetSuite partner implementation. This is mostly because of the personal attention clients get and the value partners have for each customer.

NetSuite Implementation Checklist

  • Here are a handful of tasks you should finish at the start of a NetSuite implementation.
  • Determined NetSuite is the proper fit
  • Received multiple implementations estimates
  • Carefully selected who you are buying licensing from (you don't need to use them to implement too)
  • Found NetSuite Implementation Partner
  • Designated internal support team
  • Identified all stakeholders and NetSuite users
  • Created business flow maps to communicate requirements more effectively
  • Identified areas of business NetSuite will service
  • Identified NetSuite budget for implementation
  • Identified budget for post-go-live services
  • Initiated search for NetSuite full-time candidates knowing it takes up to 2 years
  • Thought through wish list and MVP requirements
  • Identified 3rd party solutions you want to integrate to NetSuite
  • Company point of contacts of subject matter experts have removed significant chunks of time from their schedule to be dedicated to ERP
  • Go-Live date set and confirmed with consultants

Hopefully, this post gives you something to work with while trying to understand NetSuite and what it can do for your business. If you have any questions and want some free consulting advice, feel free to contact our team at Anchor Group.

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