NetSuite is what you make it. Whether you want a basic ERP tool, or an entire platform for running your business, NetSuite can do that. With near infinite ways to tweak your NetSuite experience, it’s tempting to flip every last switch. The problem with all this depth is that it’s easy to customize yourself into a corner. It’s a trap to think that the only way to get the NetSuite environment you want is through customization. In fact, your tweaks may run counter to your actual goals. Customizing NetSuite can be a slippery slope that leads to limited functionality, byzantine processes, and more work than you bargained for.
The problems with too much customization
Customizing your NetSuite processes isn’t bad in theory, but if you take it too far, it can lead to problems. For one, it can limit your functionality because certain NetSuite features depend on data being handled in a certain way. “People would pop up and say, ‘how can we track our pipeline?’ and I’d have to tell them we can’t, because we customized it in such a way that we couldn’t utilize that native functionality,” says Jonathan Holley, Marketing Analyst at Bailey International. What started as a way to make NetSuite more useable turned into a limitation.
Customization introduces complexity and can make it hard to make changes or adapt to new situations. When you adjust every little thing for a certain purpose or user, even small changes have big implications. “When I’m reviewing people’s customizations, I see these conflicting scripts that create larger errors down the line,” says Margaret Reed, NetSuite Administrator at CableOrganizer.com. It’s fun driving a hotrod until someone makes you get groceries in it. Suddenly, all your customizations to your car become limitations. When you over-customize NetSuite, little things like a new product, a new process, or even a software update can throw you for a loop. Instead of getting more from NetSuite, you end up treading water. Bear in mind that most customizations require work to maintain.
Customization can also limit NetSuite’s use throughout the company. If you design everything in NetSuite for a certain user, or group of users, newcomers won’t know where to start. For example, if you hire a new NetSuite administrator, it will take them longer to get up to speed. They might have years of experience in NetSuite, but if you’ve customized too much, their experience may not count for much. If your NetSuite implementation is too unique, new hires, part-time users, and temps will essentially have to relearn NetSuite.
Why people customize too much
Your business is unique, but there’s a good chance your NetSuite needs aren’t. NetSuite comes with tons of out-of-the-box processes that should meet most, if not all, of your needs. Too many organizations convince themselves their NetSuite needs are unique when they really aren’t. Before you build a custom process, it’s worth trying out NetSuite’s standard processes to see if they’ll fit.
Another common pitfall is trying to recreate old processes in NetSuite. On one hand, it makes sense, because you want to stick with what works. However, sticking to what works means you may not consider a better way. “When we were upgrading to NetSuite, we tried to mimic what we were doing before. What we have learned, in many cases, is that this kept us from using data functionality in NetSuite,” says Jonathan Holley, Marketing Analyst at Bailey International. “We’ve learned a hard lesson, and we had to roll back some of our customization to be able to take advantage of NetSuite.” While Bailey achieved their goal of keeping things the same, it also trapped them into keeping everything the same.
What to do instead
For many folks, the best thing to do is to stick with the standard NetSuite solution. “You get all the out-of-the-box features, so creating all these custom scripts to match the business is really not a best practice,” says Reed. According to Reed, she’d rather adjust real-world processes to match NetSuite’s processes. “I’ve seen teams try to fit their process into NetSuite, but really, it’s how can we change our processes and have NetSuite take on that workload for us?” While that may sound extreme, if you can comply with a NetSuite process with minimal hassle, it’ll probably be less fuss in the long run. By sticking to the basics and making small adjustments to your real-world processes, you can ensure your NetSuite environment stays relatively stock. While there will always be a need for customizations, a careful approach can save you headaches down the line.
To learn more about optimizing and maintaining your NetSuite environment, listen to our webinar with Margaret Reed of CableOrganizer.com