NetSuite Dashboards : The Face Of Your ERP System

NetSuite Dashboards are the album cover of your ERP system. If they look like rubbish, users won’t feel very motivated to dig in to the rest of the system.

If they look like gold you won’t be able to keep people out!

Fortunately NetSuite has developed a fully customizable dashboard feature. These are more than just pretty displays of data though. Dashboards enable your users to monitor key metrics, make informed decisions and plan their system use quickly and efficiently.

NetSuite dashboards can serve as powerful tools for data visualization, allowing you to transform raw information into meaningful insights and easily digestible snapshots. Managers and analysts can grasp trends, identify opportunities, and uncover potential issues at a glance.

As with your whole NetSuite system, dashboards are built with real-time updates so key performance indicators (KPIs) and progress tracking is always as accurate and current as possible.

In this article, we will explore the extensive customization options available for NetSuite dashboards. I’ll teach you how to add, configure and rearrange portlets. We’ll discuss the different types of portlet available, layout options and more.

What Are NetSuite Dashboards and Where Do I Find Them

NetSuite’s dashboard feature is a customizable visual display that presents key data from your system in a clear, digestible way. It can also act like a hub for users to link through to key reports and pages, saving time searching the system and streamlining navigation paths.

When you first log in to NetSuite you are presented with a Home dashboard.

example of a NetSuite dashboard layout

This is not your only dashboard, though. By clicking on each of the options from your quick access bar you are navigated to a new, function specific dashboard.

Alternative dashboards to your Home Dashboard

Your Home dashboard is the most flexible and the one most likely to be used on a daily basis. This is the one you should focus on optimizing first. When users log in to the system this is what they will see. You have an opportunity to fill this space with engaging visuals, snappy metrics and useful links that will maximize the user experience.

All of these features are brought to you via portlets. Portlets are the dashboard containers that hold the various different outputs.

For example there are Custom Search portlets that display the results of a saved search and KPI Scorecard portlets that show collections of predefined KPIs.

The NetSuite KPI Scorecard
Your Home dashboard allows the most portlets and portlet types to be configured. Additional dashboards are less flexible and have more limited numbers of portlets and portlet types.
These additional dashboards should be used for one specific need rather than giving a whole system overview.

Adding and Removing Portlets from your NetSuite Dashboard

Your dashboard is made up portlets. There is one portlet, Settings, that cannot be removed. The rest is all up to you.

The Settings portlet of the NetSuite Dashboard

To remove a portlet, hover over the top right hand corner to reveal the three dots. Hover over the three dots and click Remove.

Removing a portlet form the NetSuite Dashboard

To add a new portlet, click the Personalize link at the top right of your dashboard. This will reveal the Personalize Dashboard menu.

On the left you have three categories – Standard Content, SuiteApps and Currently Used. Click on each of these categories and you will see the available portlet types as icons in the right hand panel.

The Personalize Dashboard menu on the NetSuite Dashboard

If you click on an available portlet type under the Standard Content or SuiteApps menus, a portlet will be added to your dashboard. If you click on one of the icons on your Currently Used menu, a corresponding portlet will be removed from your dashboard.

Hover over a portlet type in your Personalize Dashboard menu and a number will appear. This number indicates how many of this portlet type you have available.

Configuring Portlets on NetSuite Dashboards

Most of your portlets will require configuring. In the next section I will run through some of the most common portlet types and how to configure them. The set up menu for most portlets, however, can be found in the same place.

Hover over the portlet to reveal the three dots at the top right. Hover over the three dots and you will see Set Up.

Accessing the setup menu for a NetSuite dashboard portlet

The Set Up menu is normally a small popup and varies slightly for each portlet type.

Some portlets are purely informational and do not require any set up. These include the New Release portlet and the Recent Records portlet.

Similarly, some portlets allow more actions than just Set Up. The Shortcuts portlet, for example, has an additional menu option for New Shortcut.

Most Common NetSuite Dashboard Portlets

Shortcuts Portlet

The Shortcuts portlet is a container to list links to frequently visited parts of the system. You can create those link whilst moving about the system by clicking on the star icon towards the left of your Quick Access bar.

Adding a link to the NetSuite dashboard Shortcuts portlet

Visit this article for a detailed look at the Shortcuts portlet, how to configure it and how to set up external links.

This portlet should be on everyone’s dashboard without exception.

Reminders Portlet

An example of the Reminders portlet on the NetSuite dashboard

The reminders portlet displays multiple single metrics to indicate a task needs to be completed. For example 10 Periods to be closed or 15 Purchase Orders pending approval.

To configure this portlet click in to the Set Up menu and choose from a list of standard and custom reminders. Click on the chosen selection and it will move from the left panel to the right.

The right hand panel is split in to two sections. The top section shows the reminders as headline metrics. These are larger numbers with a colored strip to indicate a threshold has been hit. You can drag your reminders between these two sections in the Set Up menu.

Once saved you can click the edit icon to the right of each metric to set thresholds and highlighting colors.

Custom Search Portlet

The custom search portlet is the most commonly used and arguably the most useful portlet you can pin to a users dashboard.

The custom search portlet displays the results of a saved search. Click in to the Set Up menu and select the search you want to display. You can also set a few other metrics such as how many results to show per page and whether to allow inline editing.

Setting up the custom search portlet in NetSuite

Every user has a key search they access on a daily basis. Displaying it on their dashboard gives them easier access to it and prevents any vital data points from being missed.

Generally I tend to be using most if not all of my custom search portlets in any given environment. Using highlighting and formula you can make each portlet colorful and engaging in it’s own way.

Key Performance Indicators Portlet

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) portlet shows a list of standard and custom performance metrics. All KPIs are listed as summary lines but they can also be flagged as Headline metrics. As Headlines they display as their own tile that includes an indicative trend line.

After adding the KPI portlet, enter the Set Up menu and you will be able to configure each desired KPI.

Setting up the KPI portlet on the NetSuite dashboard.

Add a new KPI by clicking either the Standard KPI button or Custom KPI. For detailed steps on creating custom KPIs, check out this article.

After selecting the new KPI, input the range, comparative range and thresholds for highlighting.

Check the Headline column to make it one of your Headline KPIs.

Once saved, you can drill in to the figures by clicking the number in either the Current or Previous columns.

SuiteApps and Bundles to Improve your NetSuite Dashboard

All the above features are standard portlets that come with your basic set up. You don’t have to limit yourself to these options though. There are still countless other tools you can add to your dashboard by way of Bundles and SuiteApps.

Here are two of my favorites that I would recommend installing. There is no additional cost to either of these.

Dashboard Tiles

The dashboard tiles portlet is exactly what you would expect it to be given it’s name. This dashboard portlet displays tiles that each contain an icon name and, optionally, even a KPI. The tiles can also link through to the source.

In the example above, the dashboard tiles portlet is being used to link through to the financial reporting pack in a more user friendly and visually engaging way than the shortcuts portlet.

Dashboard tiles is not normally installed as standard as part of your SKU setup so you will need to look for bundle 185219 and install it.

Once installed navigate to Setup > Dashboard Tiles > Manage Dashboard Tiles.

Click Edit next to the relevant tile or click the blue New Dashboard Tile action button.

From the edit screen you can adjust or set the following –

  • The tile name.
  • The roles that have access to the tile.
  • The saved search that data is being pulled from and/or the location that is being linked.
  • The icon or image that displays on the tile.

Visit this page on the Oracle Help Center for a step by step on how to create your own tiles.

Subsidiary Navigator

The Subsidiary Navigator is a fantastic addition to a finance persons dashboard in any company that operates with multiple subsidiaries.

The Subsidiary Navigator displays an organization tree in a portlet on the NetSuite dashboard. By clicking one of the entities, the other portlets on the dashboard will refresh to show metrics only from the consolidated perspective of that entity.

This portlet is a separate bundle you will need to install. Navigate to the Search & Install Bundles page and install bundle 44281.

Once installed there is no set up necessary. Simply add the portlet to your dashboard from the Personalize Dashboard menu. The subsidiaries in your environment will automatically populate.

NetSuite Dashboard Formatting and Layout Options

The layout of your dashboard can be configured as either one, two or three columns of portlets. The optimal layout will normally depend on the type of device being used and the size of the screen.

To change the layout, click the layout link at the top right of your NetSuite dashboard and select from one of the four options.

Once you have selected the desired layout, you can arrange your portlets by grabbing them from title bar and moving them around the dashboard.

Pay attention to where you are placing portlets as not all will display optimally in the side columns. Shortcuts, Reminders and Settings portlets all work fine in the smaller columns as do KPI Meters. Scorecards, Custom Search portlets and Subsidiary Navigators all work better where there is a but more space.

If you are interested in exploring other non-standard portlet options for your environment you might want to start by looking at the NetSuite SuiteApp store.

However you choose to customize your NetSuite dashboard just remember it’s there to make your life easier. With a properly and thoughtfully configured dashboard users should be able to get a view of their statuses, priorities and obligations the moment they log in.

Use the tips discussed here and explore the other available portlets in your own NetSuite instance. Get in touch and let me know your favorites

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