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Mapping Your NetSuite Implementation Timeline: What to Expect

Setting up an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be a big task involving many business aspects. Like any important project, it’s crucial to have a well-thought-out plan. Breaking down the implementation into stages, each with specific goals can boost your chances of success.

On the other hand, starting an NetSuite implementation timeline without first defining clear project goals, scope, and structure makes it more likely that you’ll need more clarity.

In this blog, we’re diving into NetSuite Implementation mapping and what you need to consider. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to implement NetSuite or any other ERP. 

What Is an ERP Implementation?

Let’s start with the basics of what an ERP implementation means. 

ERP implementation is the process of organizing, setting up, and putting into action an ERP system, which combines various business functions like finance, human resources, sales, and manufacturing. This integration aims to bring about benefits such as increased productivity and efficiency. 

The implementation typically spans a few months and is complex because an ERP system automates numerous functions. The organization must clearly outline its needs and adjust processes to optimize the system for a successful implementation. 

Setting up the ERP system to support these processes and thorough testing is crucial before user access. Achieving these steps on time requires thoughtful planning and a structured, phased approach.

NetSuite Implementation Timeline – What to Expect?

When drafting your NetSuite implementation timeline, progress through various essential stages. The duration of this process can fluctuate depending on the intricacy of your business processes and customization requirements. 

Typically, the timeline may span from 3 to 6 months on average. Still, the duration could be extended further based on factors such as your company’s scale, the complexity of data migration involved, and the extent of customization needed. Planning for these variables ensures a smooth and successful implementation journey.

What Are the Phases of an ERP Implementation Plan?

A usual ERP implementation plan can be split into six phases, each with specific goals. Since every business differs, the phases and overlap may vary based on the company. The six-part ERP implementation phase lifecycle covers discovery, planning, design, development, testing, deployment, and support. 

Let’s understand each of them in detail. 

1. Exploration and Strategic Planning

The first step in rolling out an ERP system involves digging deep and planning strategically. It means researching the right ERP system, forming a solid project team, and outlining specific system requirements. 

The project team takes on many roles, from crafting a detailed project plan and setting deadlines to managing resources, making important decisions, and overseeing daily project tasks.

The ERP project team usually includes key players like an executive sponsor, a project manager, and employees from relevant departments using the system. Involving senior management is crucial to get the needed resources and support for change. 

The team’s early goals involve diving deep into the organization’s current challenges, like process inefficiencies and what’s needed for the ERP system. 

Suppose there’s a detailed ERP business case already. In that case, it lays out the significant business issues and targets, like speeding up financial processes, improving operations, or preparing for events like an IPO. 

A big call is whether to go for an on-premises ERP system, which means getting and setting up hardware and software in the organization’s data center, or a cloud-based ERP solution. With cloud-based ERP like NetSuite, you get it as an online subscription service, which comes with perks like quicker setup and less reliance on your in-house IT skills.

2. System Design and Refinement

Let’s move on to the next phase – the design stage. 

The stage concerns deep details and understanding how things work to create a complex design for the upcoming ERP system. Your implementation partner will be crafting new, more efficient workflows and business processes that make the most of the system’s capabilities. 

It’s crucial to get input from end-users since they know the ins and outs of the current processes. This collaboration isn’t just about getting the system right for operations but also about ensuring users are on board and making the most out of the new setup.

Netsuite turns to gap analysis to spot tricky bits and particular quirks in the processes. It helps NetSuite implementation partners see where they need to tweak ERP software or adjust workflows to match the system better. 

Users are key here, sharing their firsthand insights to make things smoother. The NetSuite and your company’s teams work with the ERP implementation partner or supplier to discuss gaps and challenges. This teamwork approach aims to develop solutions and suggestions, encouraging a lively exchange of ideas and expertise. 

This thorough design process is crucial for establishing a system that not only fulfills technical requirements but also fits well with the operational details of the organization.

3. System Development and Maturation

With clear design requirements, NetSuite is ready to start the development phase. This step is about setting up and, if needed, tailoring the software to back the revamped processes. 

Your implementation partner might also dive into integrating it with any other business apps your organization currently uses, and the ERP system will keep that from swapping out. And if you’re going with an on-premises ERP system, prepare to set up the required hardware and software.

Alongside working on the software, the team should create training materials to help users get used to the new system. They also need to start thinking about data migration, which can get complicated. 

Picture this: extracting, transforming, and loading data from various systems, each with quirks like different formats and holding duplicate info. When migrating data, the project team should decide what to move over in this phase. 

It’s about something other than dragging along all the old data – much of it might not even matter anymore. 

4. Testing

Testing and development can happen at the same time. 

For instance, the team might test specific modules and features, make fixes or adjustments based on the results, and then retest. They could even try one ERP module while another is still working. 

It’s like checking the essential software functions and then putting the system through its paces, letting some employees test it for their daily tasks. This phase also involves testing the moved data and giving some basic training to end-users.

Most vendors offer tools for training users before and after deployment. Besides vendor support, the organization must utilize the training materials developed earlier. These resources tailored to your end-users daily tasks hold significant value.

5. Deployment

So, this is the moment you’ve been working towards: the big day when the system goes live. Get ready for potential hiccups, as there are many moving parts, and you might find some puzzled employees, even though you’ve done your best to get them ready for the change. 

The project team needs to be on hand to answer questions, guide users through the system, and try to resolve any issues. And if required, your implementation partner can pitch in for troubleshooting. 

Remember, it might take a while for users to get used to the system and start seeing the productivity gains you expect. You can move some data before deployment, but current transactions should be migrated before going live.

Some organizations prefer rolling out all the ERP system modules simultaneously, while others start with key modules or processes and gradually incorporate the rest. 

To play it safe, some companies keep running the old systems alongside the new ERP for a while. It may hike costs and impact user productivity, but it’s a common approach to reducing risks.

6. Support & Updates

Nurturing your ERP implementation post-deployment is critical to keeping users happy and reaping the desired benefits for your business. 

The project team now focuses on listening to user feedback and tweaking the system accordingly. Some extra development and setup might be necessary as new features come in. Don’t forget to train new staff on the system too!

If you have an on-premises ERP system, regularly install software updates and consider hardware upgrades when needed. For cloud-based ERP users, the software updates are usually handled by your vendor.

ERP Implementation Best Practices

Successful ERP implementation is all about planning. You must ensure you’ve got that solid initial phase with top-level support, clear plans, and enough resources locked in. 

Once it’s up and running, you can remember ongoing support, fixing any issues, and ensuring your team is trained.  Pay attention to the importance of data migration – steer clear of that trap of moving outdated info around. 

Keeping everyone in the loop with good communication is critical from start to finish. Remember, ERP implementation is a big deal that needs careful planning, constant tweaking, and slowly adding new features after launch. 

It’s all about ensuring it works well in the long run and bringing those benefits to your company.

Final Thoughts

Implementing an ERP system could be a considerable investment of your company’s time, money, and resources. But remember, it’s all about how you make it work for you. So, start with a solid plan and fine-tune your business processes even after your ERP system goes live. Adding new features gradually will set you up for long-term success with your ERP product.

If you need a NetSuite Implementation partner, Folio3 is the official go-to! Contact us for all your NetSuite needs – implementation, integration, customization. We’re here to help and offer top-notch NetSuite services to users.

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