One of the main problems most business owners have today is keeping up with all the technology at our disposal, technology we will never understand in a million years. By the time we understand what one term means, another comes along, and so it goes until we are totally at a loss and totally at the disposal of any salesman who comes along that appears to know what we need and we are sold. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the best solution.
We feel that an honest review of something like NetSuite from a business owner’s perspective might also help others to see whether this is something that makes sense from a business perspective to you and your particular industry. Bear in mind that this will all be in layman’s terms from one business owner to another. Here are our honest thoughts on NetSuite from our experience with NetSuite and integrations pertinent to our company.
Our Take on the Key Selling Point
Going back about 15 years, we were sold on a telecommunications package that meant we had to buy a complete phone system, with phones hardwired throughout our offices. The cost was through the roof and the time it took to install kept many of our office staff out of the loop for what we considered to be an unacceptable amount of time. Then, just as all those lines were installed and the circuit boards were wired into a storage closet, along came that very same salesman trying to sell us on the benefits of VoIP.
Why would they sell us hardwired phone lines all connected to that motherboard if they were going to come back a couple months later telling us that our staff could connect via their office computers? It didn’t make sense, especially from a cost perspective. All that money spent on hardware that was now, a matter of months later, obsolete. This little anecdote will make sense in a few moments, so please keep reading!
From VoIP to the Cloud
When we were contacted by a sales team telling us about the benefits of subscribing to a cloud based ERP platform, the first thing that came to mind was that time more than a decade and a half ago when we were sold a telephone system that had one leg out the door. What interested us was the fact that we didn’t need to purchase any new hardware and that the only thing we’d need to do was subscribe to a service and download the software that would connect us to a platform that would handle literally every aspect of our business from communications through to sales, manufacturing, shipping, warehousing and administration.
That intrigued us from a time and cost perspective. We wouldn’t be held up while some technician or group of technicians came through our business like a herd of elephants tearing up everything in their path. We were assured that it would be business as usual until our team was ready to begin accessing the platform via their computers. We’d need training on the applications, but that was the extent of the holdup. We found that to be true. We are talking about NetSuite here. Then, because NetSuite is an integration Platform as a Service, iPaaS, we were able to have specific applications integrated into the main platform and all we had to do was login to Celigo for NetSuite integrations. Obviously, we chose to work with Celigo as our provider!
A Bit about Our Business
First, we work primarily as a pack and ship business that is family owned and operated here in Northern California, but we do have a sizeable amount of inventory on site as well. We started small over two decades ago with a handful of close relatives. As our business grew, we expanded and when we were sold that archaic telecommunications system we had less than 20 people on staff, many of whom simply manned the phone lines. Our warehouse consisted of one person who ran everything from packing to shipping. We won’t get into those digital signage contraptions for our warehouse because they were another loss in terms of time and revenue.
Needless to say, the main thrust of what we do is to list items for sale and work basically as a distribution center with the bulk of our business now on the Internet. Since we need to communicate with both suppliers and end-consumers, a cloud based platform was exactly what we needed. To date, the only integration we have added is a video chat feature that allows us to go live when needed to fill an order or to understand what the client needs so that we can better serve them.
Our Final Analysis to Date
In a time period of just less than a year, our orders have more than doubled and we have added 7 people to our staff, growing our numbers now to over 50 employees. While much of our business is done online, our crew goes out to manufacturers around the world and we are working with some of the biggest names in a number of industries. We fill everything from auto parts to homewares and all without the huge expense of a large warehouse. We are able to do this because of the speed at which we can communicate through NetSuite.
Yes, we are a small business, but we can also see how this would be an even bigger benefit to a large company with a hundred or more employees. Each person who logs onto NetSuite has a role and is able to access what they need in order to do their job. As an administrator, I can see what everyone is doing, how they are using their time, what needs to be done, orders that are delinquent and I can watch as our bottom line rises graphically on the chart on my home screen on my dashboard.
It’s amazingly simple to use once you understand what all those little icons mean and how to flip back and forth between screens, but that is really the most difficult part about this particular platform and we are happy to live and work in the cloud. It’s grown our business in just under 12 months and all because of the transparency of operations with each department having the ability to see what they need to see in order to complete their tasks. We would recommend NetSuite to any company that wants to streamline operations at a cost that makes sense. It takes some getting used to, but we found that you really can teach an old dog new tricks with the right tools. To us, those tools were NetSuite.