In the NetSuite world, or that of any ERP, robust customer support is key for businesses to maintain an optimally performing system. Without a strong support solution the environment will be at increasing risk which in turn could have a direct impact on the businesses performance.
NetSuite ACS (Advanced Customer Support) was introduced by NetSuite as an extension to the regular support offering. A specialized solution to not only respond to problems and concerns but to proactively improve the system.
As noble as that mission sounds, ACS has not always been able to deliver. I have provided consulting services for countless disgruntled ACS customers and you will find a fair few emotional reviews online.
In this article, we will make a comprehensive exploration of NetSuite ACS, delving into its definition, key features and, of course, it’s reputation.
I will also raise some support alternatives, touching on NetSuite offerings, internal strategies and third-party providers.
What is NetSuite ACS
NetSuite ACS (advanced Customer Support) is a subscription based support solution provided by NetSuite.
The key differentiator between ACS and other NetSuite Support offerings is the focus on proactive system optimization and maintenance as opposed to reactive help.
For your monthly subscription fee, you are assigned a Success Manager and solution advisement team. These individuals are tasked to help you set and realize system goals.
The specific services they can provide are broken down in to nine key areas.
- Business Solution Advisement – Advise on and implementation of business process improvements.
- Remediation Support – Resolution of critical or time sensitive issues.
- Development and Testing – Assistance with development and testing of complex solutions including third party integrations.
- Annual Account Reviews – Thorough systems reviews annually to identify process or development concerns and bottlenecks.
- Performance Monitoring – Optimization of key business processes.
- Release Guidance – Preparation for new releases and guidance on how to utilize new functionality.
- ACS Playbooks – Access to a series of best practice guides.
- Solution Architecture – System Architecture design.
- Implementation Support – Specialized implementation support for new features and deployments.
There are four levels of support from ACS. All the above services are available using the highest level of support. The offering differs in the following ways for the other three levels.
The variation in plans is there to suit businesses and, more importantly, systems of all sizes and complexity.
Customers of ACS Optimize and ACS Architect have the following ACS Playbooks available to them.
- Financial Management
- Human Capital
- Supply Chain Operations
- Customer 360
- Project Profitability
- International Expansion
- Performance and Risk Management
- Capital Markets
As you can see, based on the services offered by ACS there is a strong focus on ongoing optimization and development.
The team want to build you a roadmap that they can work on throughout the year and continually improve your environments. You will have a team of experts that will become familiar with your system and learn it’s nuances and quirks. This aids speedy resolution of issues and intelligent development solutions.
The Pain Points of NetSuite ACS
A quick search online will uncover some common ACS complaints. I have also spoken with a lot of customers who have similar gripes.
As part of of your NetSuite ACS contract you will have a bucket of hours each month for the team to use. Some of that use will be driven by you, the customer, but a large portion of it should should be proactive use by your solution team.
If you know you have, for example, ten hours a month to be used on development activities then you are going to want to be getting around ten hours of development work each month.
Some customers complain they are having to push for the use of these hours and some feel they have to even micromanage the contract in order to get value.
From what I have heard I think the NetSuite ACS teams need to get more forward about consuming the allocated hours. You want to be aware of this if you are considering an ACS contract. It would be beneficial to have someone in the business managing the relationship and ensuring you are receiving value monthly.
Another recurring criticism is that the ACS consultants are perhaps not as experienced as is implied.
NetSuite has a fairly fast tracked upskill program to bring in new employees with no NetSuite experience and have them resolving issues twelve weeks later.
Many of the questions coming to the ACS team from the customer would benefit from someone with years of NetSuite experience rather than weeks.
Not all ACS consultants are going to fall in to this category and many of the greener ones will also be fantastic but it can be frustrating if you are expecting industry leading professionals and not receiving.
There are also concerns over the amount of time spent for various activities. This is an area I would like to defend NetSuite on though.
No matter what support and maintenance solution you use, there will likely be a difference between how long you think a task will take and how long it will actually take.
A one hour training will take preparation time, the time to present and perhaps a follow up answering questions raised.
The only thing to be aware of on this subject is that there is likely very little room for movement from an organization the size of NetSuite. If you had a support and maintenance agreement with a NetSuite partner they may be more open to discussing lenience on the consumption of hours.
Alternatives to ACS
I should preface this section with the fact that I don’t necessarily think NetSuite ACS is a bad product. On the contrary, I think it offers some fantastic services.
For a business with little to no internal assistance with NetSuite and a clear view of where they want to get with the system, NetSuite ACS can be the path to get them there.
That said, it is not the right solution for every business and I think that generally NetSuite need to do some work in this area to make it a truly competitive offering.
So what alternatives are there for organizations that don’t think ACS is quite what they are looking for?
If you have one or more in house NetSuite specialists, you might not need a whole external team pushing your system forward. You might be able to manage your system roadmap yourself.
Using internal resource you can use the following tools to aid development and optimization of your system.
- NetSuite Help Center
- Oracle Community Message Boards
- YouTube Tutorials
You can learn more about all these resources here.
I am not suggesting that you could do without a support contract but you may be able to cover the ongoing development piece internally. For support-only you may consider…
NetSuite Premium Support
If you have a solution to managing the ongoing improvement of your system, you only need to think about support coverage. For this need, NetSuite’s Premium Support may be sufficient.
There are no bells and whistles with NetSuite’s Premium Support but it will give you piece of mind should something worrying occur to your system – something more than an inconvenience but less than an outage (Basic Support will help you with that).
With Premium Support you can submit both critical and non-critical issues via telephone or online case submission. You can have up to four authorized contacts within the business and, of course, all the benefits of Basic Support.
The purpose of mentioning Premium Support in this article is to let you know that ACS is not the first stop for support solutions – it is far more than just a support solution.
If you only need issue resolution NetSuite ACS is not the answer you are looking for but NetSuite Premium Support might be.
Third Party Alternatives
The true, level playing field, alternative to NetSuite ACS is a managed services product from a NetSuite partner.
There are countless NetSuite partners in the market that offer Support and Development packages that truly rival what NetSuite has attempted with ACS.
Search for NetSuite partners in your country or industry and I am sure you will find similar offerings. This will likely also result in a more flexible and bespoke product. Maybe even a team that is specialized for your sector.
Get in touch via our contact form if you would like a recommendation or further information.