Businesses outgrowing spreadsheets or entry-level accounting systems and looking to adopt cloud accounting typically evaluate two products — NetSuite and Sage Intacct. While the two are often compared head-to-head, there are significant differentiators that make one product a much better fit for companies looking to, for instance, grow their ecommerce operations, handle global business or adopt different monetization models.
Many know that Oracle, a pioneer in databases and application software, acquired NetSuite in 2016 for $9.3 billion. But what they may not realize is that Oracle was a part of NetSuite from its very beginnings. Evan Goldberg, an entrepreneur and one-time Oracle employee, had worked for the company from the late ‘80s until starting his own venture in 1995. After struggling to find a single system on which to run various business functions at his new company, Goldberg approached Oracle founder Larry Ellison with an idea. The two went on to create NetSuite in 1998, launching one of the first ERP systems based on cloud technologies and the software as a service (SaaS) model. It went public in 2007. With Oracle’s backing, NetSuite has quickly expanded its product set, its international operations and increased its capacity by running the software on new data centers using the powerful Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
Intacct was founded in 1999 as a suite of accounting applications for small and midsize businesses by David Chandler Thomas, an economist and professor at Ball State University, and Odysseas Tsatalos, a technologist. It received several funding rounds but never filed for an IPO. In 2017, the Sage Group plc acquired Intacct for $850 million. At the time, Sage operated a variety of on-premises accounting systems used primarily in the U.K. and had made little progress shifting to the cloud. The acquisition of Intacct gave Sage a footprint in the United States, plus a cloud offering.
Both products are a little more than 20 years old, but NetSuite boasts a much larger customer base and global footprint, with more than 26,000 customers in 200-plus countries and territories. Intacct’s roughly 14,000 customers are mostly concentrated in North America. It also has operations in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom, but little support for businesses with non-English speakers.
When evaluating NetSuite vs. Sage Intacct, potential customers often find that both deliver what most enterprise software vendors call core finance functionality, in a SaaS model. This includes the ability to automate processes associated with accounts payable and accounts receivable, manage cost centers, automatically reconcile transactions and post them to the general ledger, create financial statements and more. The software also provides internal controls and segregation of duties. Both vendors run the software on a multitenant architecture, meaning customers share the same code but data is segregated at the database layer.
Another area in which NetSuite and Intacct overlap is their support of some core industries — including software, hospitality and wholesale distribution. Intacct boasts stronger support in healthcare and construction, while NetSuite has a larger customer base in retail, advertising, media and publishing and offers deep specialization in microverticals around apparel, footwear and accessories, restaurants, food and beverage manufacturing, health and beauty and more.
While both systems allow your organization to automate core accounting processes and much of the workflow associated with those processes, that’s where the similarities end.
Let’s say you’re a software company, and sell your products in a subscription model. You would benefit greatly from the ability to automate billing processes and the complex revenue recognition tasks required by new accounting standards. NetSuite offers significant advantages here. One customer who switched from Intacct to NetSuite said on a recent webinar that one of the major drivers in that choice was how many of its revenue recognition processes had to be completed outside of the Intacct system. In particular, revenue recognition had to be done in Excel and wasn’t tied to invoicing. This required that the customer spend significant time preparing spreadsheets and answering questions from clients about invoices received before services had been performed. With NetSuite, the business was able to save more than five hours per week on this process — and the labor of two different people on the accounting team.
Or perhaps your company does some business in Europe and is looking to make complying with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates easier. A major part of compliance is ensuring that whatever vendor your company relies on has the cloud infrastructure to adhere to laws regulating where data is stored. Since its acquisition by Oracle, NetSuite has begun hosting its software in 18 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) data centers around the globe. Additionally, as it transitions to Oracle’s Gen 2 Cloud infrastructure, NetSuite will deliver even greater security, availability, scalability and expandability while offering customers a path to the advanced Oracle Autonomous Database and artificial intelligence.
Intacct runs on Oracle databases in two data centers, based in Sacramento and San Jose, California, run by third-party providers Quality Technology Services (QTS) and Equinix, respectively. It also operates a data center based in Dublin for U.K. customers.
Organizations in growth mode will quickly find they need to automate other parts of the business beyond accounting. It would be great, for instance, if a single vendor could provide the tools to build an ecommerce website and easily tie it to the back-end database where data on inventory and orders is managed and stored. It would be even better if it could integrate all these records to provide that information both internally and to customers. This helps, for instance, the business to accurately fulfill orders, because the correct inventory always shows on the front end. Intacct is quite limited here because it has only basic functionality for inventory and order management, and no ecommerce functionality at all. NetSuite, on the other hand, has an entire ecommerce suite in SuiteCommerce and deep insight into customizing that solution for the unique inventory and order management needs of different businesses.
In all, the NetSuite vs. Intacct conversation pretty much boils down to one key difference: NetSuite is a complete ERP system, and Intacct is first and foremost an accounting system. NetSuite can manage and automate many business processes beyond accounting and finance — including ecommerce, human resources, supply chain, warehouse management, inventory and order management, some parts of the manufacturing process, procurement, professional services automation, CRM and more. When those processes are populated with data from the back-end finance system, operations are more accurate and more efficient.
For instance, it’s much easier to base sales forecasts on accurate historical numbers when those numbers are catalogued correctly and consistently used across business functions. That’s possible with NetSuite.
Intacct, on the other hand, is a robust accounting platform with only basic functionality for order and inventory management and time entry and tracking. Organizations quickly find themselves buying best-of-breed solutions for key parts of their business functions and missing out on the benefits of functionality natively built on and for a single platform.
To that point, pretty much any functionality that NetSuite doesn’t provide, its partners have built and continue to improve on. Through its SuiteApp marketplace, NetSuite customers have access to more than 570 add-on applications that are either built on the NetSuite platform or tightly integrated. Intacct’s offerings are much more limited.
Intacct typically costs less upfront, a selling point for the product. But that lower cost means it’s lacking features many businesses find themselves needing rather quickly. That list includes some accounting functionality that is quickly becoming a standard requirement. These items, including revenue recognition, specific value-added tax (VAT) capabilities and more, are available for purchase as separate modules.
Other capabilities not delivered out-of-the-box include the ability to automate financial reporting, the ability to integrate with other systems, the ability to manage multiple funds through fund accounting, the ability to automate tracking and reporting of outcome metrics and the automated consolidation of multiple entities. Intacct users can adopt such advanced accounting features to enable an end-to-end accounting process — if they don’t mind digging endlessly into their budgets.
NetSuite offers much of this functionality out-of-the-box via modules that are built natively on the NetSuite platform and are part of the licensing and pricing structure. Additionally, with its OneWorld product, NetSuite supports 27 languages, more than 190 currencies, transactions in more than 90 different bank formats and tax and reporting standards for more than 100 countries. NetSuite has customers in more than 200 countries and dependent territories.
OneWorld also offers multi-subsidiary consolidation, allowing businesses to easily roll up data from the subsidiary level to the parent level, and NetSuite facilitates intercompany consolidation. That helps organizations establish consistent business processes.
What’s more, Intacct lacks a fine-tuned methodology with which to implement industry-specific functionality — a key differentiator for NetSuite. One of the first things customers praise NetSuite for is the depth of industry experience both its internal team and its rich partner ecosystem provide. This is particularly true for those with very specific business requirements, such as the auto parts or motorsports industries, or compliance mandates, such as food and beverage and biotech and pharma. NetSuite’s SuiteSuccess offering is a combination of methodology and templates, all informed and continually enhanced by actual customer implementations and leading practices. It provides prebuilt dashboards and embedded key performance indicators (KPIs), customized by role and industry. All this is based on data gathered over NetSuite’s 20 years of successful ERP implementations and includes industry-specific templates, rapid implementation methodologies and custom code.
As a result, SuiteSuccess customers typically get their ERP systems up and running in less than 100 days. And, SuiteSuccess includes post-implementation support to help businesses expand beyond core financials into areas like CRM, professional services automation (PSA), human resources and ecommerce when they’re ready to do so.
NetSuite’s partner programs are far larger and more diverse — and, its partner ecosystem is mature and has experience across thousands of implementations. Like Intacct, NetSuite offers programs for value-added resellers, solution providers and accountants, but it goes further with an Alliance Program for global systems integrators and a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner program for companies that offer outsourcing services in accounting, customer service or ecommerce.
In addition to support from deeply experience partners, customers benefit from NetSuite’s extensive and mature support network. NetSuite offers 24-hour support, seven days a week, internationally. While Intacct has begun to expand beyond its live agents in San Jose, California, who work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, its support services are still limited.
Fundamentally, NetSuite ERP is the better choice for a growing business.
Now that you’ve learned the differences between NetSuite and Intacct, let’s talk about taking the next steps to automate your business processes.
Comparison Table: NetSuite vs. Sage Intacct
|Advanced accounting||√||√ (developing)|
|Basic inventory management||√||√|
|Advanced inventory management||√|
|HCM and payroll||√|