Early stage startups need to keep honest books like any other company. They aren’t often interested in the flashing lights of NetSuite though and they normally can’t afford it either.
Most startups will on board a simpler, out of the box cloud based accounting system that ‘does the job’. As the business grows, however, needs are going to change and management will need to start padding out that system architecture.
Considering NetSuite for small businesses involves assessing its growth capability, scope of business management applications and, of course, overall financial commitment.
NetSuite is definitely not going to be the best solution for every small business but there is a subset that will benefit from implementing early on and taking NetSuite on their scale up journey.
Let’s take a look at what small businesses need from an ERP system, what NetSuite can offer and what other options are out there for them.
What Small Businesses Require from their Systems
What a small business requires form an accounting or ERP system is wholly different to the needs of a larger organization. Businesses experience different struggles at all stages of their growth.
Below are five crucial features that small businesses seek in their systems.
Affordability and Scalability
Small businesses often have tighter budgets than large enterprises. They require accounting or ERP systems that are not only affordable but also scalable and this is a delicate balance.
The ability to start with basic functionalities and easily expand as the business grows is crucial. Modular based systems like NetSuite allow this exact approach. Businesses can begin their journal with basic accounting and add to the system as other functions grow.
The cost analysis needs to look at the capital outlay for implementation as well as on going license costs.
The cost of NetSuite for small businesses may often be out of reach. If, however, the license cost of the basic set up is achievable then the business should consider financing for the initial project. Oracle offer financing options for their implementations so this may be something worth looking at.
Simplicity and User-Friendly Interface
Small business owners and their teams may not have the resources for extensive training on complex accounting systems. A user-friendly interface and intuitive design are essential to ensure that employees can quickly adapt to the software without significant learning curves.
The smaller the organization, the lower the headcount. There is unlikely to be a vast IT team or even anyone dedicated to systems at all.
NetSuite is difficult to judge in this area. Many aspects of the accounting functionality are very straight forward and quick to learn. It is undeniably, however, a big step up from smaller book keeping solutions.
This is to be expected if you are going to tick the ‘scalability’ box.
Integration with Other Tools
Small businesses often rely on a variety of tools for different aspects of their operations.
The time to upgrade the accounting system isn’t always the same time to look at consolidating. For this reason, a system that can integrate and fall in line with the rest of the architecture is essential.
An accounting or ERP system that seamlessly integrates with other commonly used software, such as CRM systems or e-commerce platforms, will ensure a smooth implementation with as little disruption to operations as possible.
Seamless integration capabilities of NetSuite for small businesses makes it a strong contender for a step up accounting and ERP system. Many other business systems come with pre built NetSuite connectors and those that don’t can still be connected directly or via a middleware.
Customization for Specific Business Needs
Customization features that allow businesses to tailor the accounting or ERP system to their specific needs are highly valuable. This flexibility ensures that the software aligns with the business’s workflows and reporting needs.
Many startups and smaller organizations will have noted the frustrations of an inflexible, out of the box accounting system. They are then likely to approach their next system with ideas on how they would prefer it to work.
Fortunately, the segment of the systems market that NetSuite falls in to tends to be much more malleable. NetSuite is customizable in almost facet from interface and reporting to bespoke business processes.
Something that is often overlooked by smaller businesses is the industry suitability of a new system.
If a new system implementation is taking a staggered approach it’s easy to overlook a lack of compatibility with a specific industry.
For example, a business may operate in an industry with very unique asset management requirements not covered by NetSuite or any of it’s add-on modules. For the initial implementation, these processes may be managed externally but eventually they will need to be brought in.
Before committing to a new system check it is going to meet your future needs as well as those of today.
NetSuite for Small Businesses
Beyond the key areas of consideration above, what can NetSuite offer a small business that is outgrowing their current system?
Accounting in NetSuite for Small Businesses
When a company is in the earlier stages of growth and thinking about an ERP implementation, they tend to be moving away from a dedicated accounting system.
This is, therefore, going to be a strong focus in the new system.
Fortunately, NetSuite is built on a foundation of a world class accounting system. It offers a comprehensive suite of tools tailored to the unique needs of smaller enterprises.
Automated financial processes streamline operations, reducing errors and saving valuable time that can be redirected toward strategic decision-making and growth activities.
NetSuite’s accounting offering is one that will grow with the business. The most basic solution can be implemented to begin with and over the years additional features bolted on.
CRM in NetSuite for Small Businesses
If CRM is managed through notepads and Outlook then anything is going to look like an improvement.
NetSuite is not a dedicated CRM system but does present a pretty comprehensive offering. Without any additional modules, most NetSuite SKUs will manage the full lead to quote lifecycle with activity and event tracking, communication logs and basic marketing functionality.
Ecommerce in NetSuite for Small Businesses
An early stage ecommerce company will find NetSuite a great primary platform that they can grow in to.
NetSuite integrates ecommerce operations with other business processes, offering a unified approach to managing online activities. NetSuite facilitates order management, inventory tracking, and customer engagement within a single, cohesive system.
A small business breaking in to the online market place will benefit massively from the scope of NetSuite’s offering and be safe in the knowledge that their system will be able to scale with them.
Arguments Against NetSuite for Small Businesses
There are two main reasons a smaller organization might decide they are not quite ready for NetSuite yet.
It speaks volumes that all three of these products advertise their costs but NetSuite keep theirs behind a curtain.
For many companies, their first accounting software will be a pre configured out of the box solution. NetSuite will always require an implementation project and this alone is going to be in the tens of thousands if not more.
It is understandable if the financial commitment that NetSuite presents is simply not possible for a small business. This doesn’t mean that NetSuite is not the right solution necessarily, but it may just be the wrong time.
Time To Proficiency
A product like NetSuite is a world away from the kind of accounting system most small businesses begin life with.
With all that functionality and malleability NetSuite is going to take time for new users to feel confident. Accountants will potentially be sharing their environment with sales people, marketers and supply chain to name a few.
Businesses should expect the time needed for all users to reach proficiency will be far greater than previously experienced.
Some smaller fast moving organizations will not be able to justify this learning curve at a particular point in their journey. For this reason NetSuite may be seen as a future start rather than something to sink so much resource in to at such a critical time in the companies growth.