NetSuite Sandbox : What It Is And Why You Need One

If you are doing any kind of development in your NetSuite environment or currently undergoing an implementation then you are going to want to trial and test your processes, features and customizations.

Doing that in your live production environment is asking for trouble so you would normally use a test environment. Our test environment is the NetSuite Sandbox.

The name Sandbox comes from the idea that it is a play area. Children play in a Sandbox and, it would seem, so do NetSuite developers.

NetSuite remove all the fun from that name with their description of it being a ‘safe and isolated test account’ but that’s what it is.

So what is the NetSuite Sandbox, how does it work and (why) do you need one?

What is a NetSuite Sandbox?

A NetSuite Sandbox account is a direct copy of your production environment at a chosen moment in time.

Administrators can choose who has access to the environment and can add or remove any users that have access to the production account or even external contractors like consultants or developers.

A NetSuite Sandbox account provides a safe environment to develop new features or customizations, test out bug fixes or conduct trainings without having any irreversible affect on your live build or, more importantly, data.

If you are building straight in to your production environment you need to remember that there is no roll back feature. Everything you do is permanent and can only be undone by manually reversing the change – deleting records is permanent! You’re not getting that Purchase Order back!

You’ll know you are using a Sandbox account by the word SANDBOX displayed at the top left of your screen when logged in.

The SANDBOX indicator at the top left of the screen letting the user know they are logged in to a NetSuite Sandbox account.

How does a Sandbox environment work?

A user with Administrator rights chooses when to do, what we call, a Sandbox refresh.

This action takes a snapshot of your production environment and builds an exact copy for you to play in. The copy takes about 24 hours normally but could be as long as 3 days if you are unlucky. You need to take this time frame in to consideration if refreshing in preparation for a project commencement.

The NetSuite Sandbox Accounts page

You normally have a finite number of refreshes available to you on your license but there will be enough to do at least one a month and in reality projects and developments may require you to trim that down to once every couple of months.

You can keep track of how many refreshes you have left on the Billing Information page found at Setup > Company > Billing Information.

You use the same login credentials as you do for your production environment and have access to all the same roles.

The key feature of the Sandbox account is that nothing you do will affect your live production data. You can delete records, add new modules, change entire workflows and none of it will alter your working system. You can even choose if and how emails are to be sent from a Sandbox environment to ensure your customers and vendors don’t receive any test notifications.

The closer you can keep your Sandbox to your production environment, however, the more useful it is going to be to you.

If you have issues that you need to troubleshoot and your Sandbox is no longer an accurate reflection of production, then your testing is going to be worthless. Similarly, if you are conducting user training sessions in a Sandbox that is significantly different to the environment the users will be operating in, then the training will not be preparing them in any way.

Do you need a Sandbox?

My opinion is that there are really very few businesses that would not benefit from a Sandbox account.

Unless you are incredibly stable, not looking at any further development and only running very simple processes then you probably need a NetSuite Sandbox to manage your account effectively and safely.

I have even worked in organizations that had several Sandbox accounts refreshing at different times. This allowed me to manage multiple very large implementation projects at once whilst always maintaining a recent copy of our production account.

Having two Sandbox accounts really will increase the number of larger projects that can be undertaken concurrently but it is not necessary for all or many organizations.

Hopefully that was useful to you and has helped you understand if you need a Sandbox account or not. If you do not have a Sandbox account and would like one then speak to your NetSuite partner or your NetSuite Account Manager in order to provision one.

Need to move a small piece of work from your Sandbox to your production environment? Learn how to use the Copy to Account feature here.

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