Readying and Validating your NetSuite Data and Processes for Analytics Recorded Webinar

Watch “Readying your NetSuite Data and Processes for Analytics” for tips on strategies to employ when moving to visual reports


In any organization, a robust analytics strategy is only as good as its data and related processes - if bad information goes in, bad analytics comes out. It is critically important for everyone to be on the same page about the single source of truth, looking at same agreed-upon criteria on validated data and processes.


In this recording, Margaret Reed, NetSuite Administrator at CableOrganizer.com, discusses the importance of preparing data for analytics, and offers guidance based on her experiences with getting up and running on visual reports inside of NetSuite.


Watch the webinar recording to learn:


  • How to approach NetSuite data for visualization and anticipate BI needs
  • How to achieve consistency from differing reports
  • Strategies for getting different groups to come together on a single source of truth
  • Obstacles and common themes
TRANSCRIPT
Rico:

Ok everyone let’s go ahead and get started. Thank you everyone for joining us today, this is a bi coastal webinar, coming from your live from California and Florida simultaneously and hopefully joining all of you around the country. So this is the webinar on writing and validating your NetSuite data and processes for analytics. I am Rico Andrade, I’m the head of marketing here at iCharts, and we are joined by Margaret Reed she’s the NetSuite administrator at Cable Organizer coming from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And she’s an experience NetSuite admin with over six years experience and well beyond that in terms of operations. I had the pleasure to visit her and the team at the warehouse in Florida and got a lot of insights that I thought were very interesting, that other people might also want to learn about her experiences and validating data and processes at the different organizations she worked with, so Margaret thanks for joining us today.

 

Margaret

Thank you for having me. Always a pleasure.

 

Rico

Here’s the agenda for today. We’ll do a quick welcome introduction, to a very quick introduction to both iCharts and Cable Organizer and then we’ll jump right into the discussion which is based on some of these conversations I’ve had with Margaret. So for those of you who aren’t familiar with iCharts we are full real time analytics and visual reporting solution that’s native to NetSuite. What we basically do is we enable you to not have to export your data to Excel to build your NetSuite reports. The data is automated. Once you create the charts they are automated live, updated live inside NetSuite directly. Margaret actually uses it at Cable Organizer, which we’ll talk about because she used it to help her validate some of the work that she was doing and we’ll talk about that. So let’s go ahead and talk about Margaret, can you tell us just introduce to CableOrganizer.com and what you guys do?

 

Margaret

We are headquartered here in Fort Lauderdale, and we have a growing product line including electrical and cable supplies, home theater components, fire protection gear, security and surveillance products. So we have a number of products to our line and we are always adding different cable management products. So one of our specialities is that we provide a very unique customer service experience so we have a lot of customer service staff here in Fort Lauderdale and they’re very knowledgeable. So they can best suit our customer’s needs. We have about two hundred fifty thousand customers worldwide, that ranges from home users all the way to large corporations like NASA, Boeing, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, it could to go on. And we have about over fifty employees and we fulfill a lot of our shipments onsite, and we have an onsite warehouse and we also drop ship from our vendors. And we have about one hundred fifty thousand SKUs currently. And about ninety percent of our employees work within NetSuite, which is very interesting. I’m used to having about half of the team working in NetSuite, so this is nice to have everybody looking at the data, having the same information which is great.

 

Rico

So us a little bit more about what exactly is implemented inside of NetSuite right now with the Cable Organizer.

 

Margaret

Right now we’re using that to NetSuite ERP for finance, our supply chain, and inventory management and customer relationship management. We have launched, we are just now getting into that phase where we’re you’re utilizing all of the features. There’s a lot of features that we could believe that we aren’t currently but we’re just getting into it so it’s great.

Rico

Are there specific modules or third party solutions that you are using?

 

Margaret

We use iCharts, and we are currently using the out of the box NetSuite, which we’ve implemented about a year and a half ago and so iCharts is one of the main apps that we’re using.

 

Rico

Sounds good so hopefully that gives a little bit of a picture. It is a fairly sizable operation. If you visit the center you get to see quite a bit of activity going on and we actually have a video that I’ll share a link to a little bit later that goes in detail with how Cable Organizer work and, the work that’s happening inside of NetSuite over there. Yeah it’s just quite a bit of activity going on there so it’s really impressive to watch and if you do have any cable needs please go to CableOrganizer.com and see if they might be able to serve your needs. So let’s go specifically into the challenges, you mentioned something that you said you’ve run across into your career, that it’s fairly common from the perspective of the NetSuite administrator where they’re coming into an organization and they’re getting introduced to a new Netsuite implementation, so can you talk a little bit about these challenges that you have described in the past of entering the organization?

 

Margaret

So I think what’s unique to my experience here at Cable Organizer is that I’m coming into the company after the implementation of NetSuite. So we have NetSuite here for about a year, and I just joined the team at the end of last year. So typically my experience is i’m there during the testing and this situation is pretty unique. And of course there are challenges. Some of them are basically having to do with a lot of research and sort of going backwards and asking a lot of questions about how each department operates all of the processes that they have outside of NetSuite, and how they’ve come to conclusions about how they’re going to work within NetSuite. So some of the challenges that I face and I’m sure a lot of other companies have as well, is kind of getting all that documentation and that was done at this start. A lot of companies bring in a consulting company and usually they’re there for a very short period of time until launch. You may hear from them after the check in. So I’m kind of that person right now. I’m kind of going backwards and part of that process for me is, i’ve set some guidelines to go through and questions to ask for the teams. Asking, what are the initial requirements, and evaluating if those are the best methods for achieving your goal that the team has. For example, a sales team. What do you need to in NetSuite. What is your process for putting in a sales order, what are those requirements, and are you getting that your needs met, and if not, how can we update those customizations and scripts and workflows.

 

Rico

Just to get a little bit of clarification, you’ve been very systematic about this from our conversations, you just assume that everything that was implemented was wrong?

 

Margaret

I assume nothing, I always say that to teams, and I just started from scratch. What I found in the past with companies is that certain customizations were made and certain other process are going to be the same as other companies, you’re going to be making a big mistake. I learned that from experience. And I ask a lot of questions.

 

Rico

So you basically brought each of the individual teams. And you had a conversation with them to really understand the process that they’re trying to achieve right and then you and then you said that what you actually did is you asked them to pretend that you were a new employee you gave yourself the roles and permissions Can you talk about that how you walked through that process?

 

Margaret

Sure so I sat with each department head, and each member within their team, and got to know what their day to day looks like, how they function within the system. So I would get them to layout the processes that they go through within NetSuite, and then i’d login as a user, and i’d go through those processes myself. I can see any red flags as they come up, and ask the questions that I need to, and then from there we can tweak things as we need to, and figure out the best way to figure out the goal that they’re trying to achieve.

 

Rico

Can you give me an example of a red flag that may have specifically come up when you went through this process?

 

Margaret

A lot, there’s a lot. Well, I think sometimes i’ve seen with logistics, we use barcode scanning, not a lot of companies use them, but we have a product we use called RF smart, and they are our logistics team in our warehouse. They’re scanning the products in, and the inventory adjustments are not happening directly through NetSuite. They’re happening through he RF Smart application. We need to ensure that RF Smart is talking to NetSuite in the right way. For me, that was a red flag, and I needed to take that back to the accounting team to validate the process.

 

Rico

So you went beyond just kind of creating the process and watching other people did it, you experience it yourself in many of these cases. Do you think in might that have been the reason why this wasn’t picked up the first time?

 

Margaret

I think that there’s a lot of questions that maybe weren’t asked, and that’s not to fault anyone, that’s very standard for a company when you’re when you coming in and you do an implementation. You don’t want to interrupt the business, you want to you want to get the ERP system off the ground, you want to get this moving, and the finance reporting coming out as normal. So you want to do that quickly as possible, and you want to get the basic foundation together. I think it’s probably pretty typical. You should do a health check check every couple of months just to make sure that your business processes are matching.

 

Rico

So it’s an ongoing process, basically something that you have to be visit with on a regular basis. There’s one thing that you spent some time talking about, which I thought was very interesting, as a major source of errors or problems, and this is something that’s reflected also with other clients that we talked about, specifically previous webinars that we did with Bailey Hydraulics, where he said the single biggest issue that they had, the single biggest mistake they made as a company in terms of NetSuite was to over customize their existing processes and try to match that inside of NetSuite.You brought that up as well, can you talk a little bit about the danger of over customization?

 

Rico

So it’s an ongoing process, basically something that you have to be visit with on a regular basis. There’s one thing that you spent some time talking about, which I thought was very interesting, as a major source of errors or problems, and this is something that’s reflected also with other clients that we talked about, specifically previous webinars that we did with Bailey Hydraulics, where he said the single biggest issue that they had, the single biggest mistake they made as a company in terms of NetSuite was to over customize their existing processes and try to match that inside of NetSuite.You brought that up as well, can you talk a little bit about the danger of over customization?

 

Rico

So it’s an ongoing process, basically something that you have to be visit with on a regular basis. There’s one thing that you spent some time talking about, which I thought was very interesting, as a major source of errors or problems, and this is something that’s reflected also with other clients that we talked about, specifically previous webinars that we did with Bailey Hydraulics, where he said the single biggest issue that they had, the single biggest mistake they made as a company in terms of NetSuite was to over customize their existing processes and try to match that inside of NetSuite.You brought that up as well, can you talk a little bit about the danger of over customization?

 

Rico

So it’s an ongoing process, basically something that you have to be visit with on a regular basis. There’s one thing that you spent some time talking about, which I thought was very interesting, as a major source of errors or problems, and this is something that’s reflected also with other clients that we talked about, specifically previous webinars that we did with Bailey Hydraulics, where he said the single biggest issue that they had, the single biggest mistake they made as a company in terms of NetSuite was to over customize their existing processes and try to match that inside of NetSuite.You brought that up as well, can you talk a little bit about the danger of over customization?

 

Rico

So it’s an ongoing process, basically something that you have to be visit with on a regular basis. There’s one thing that you spent some time talking about, which I thought was very interesting, as a major source of errors or problems, and this is something that’s reflected also with other clients that we talked about, specifically previous webinars that we did with Bailey Hydraulics, where he said the single biggest issue that they had, the single biggest mistake they made as a company in terms of NetSuite was to over customize their existing processes and try to match that inside of NetSuite.You brought that up as well, can you talk a little bit about the danger of over customization?

 

Margaret

I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you bring in an ERP system like NetSuite is overcustomizing. NetSuite comes with all of the out of the box features. Customizing, creating scripts to match the business, really is not best practice. There are so many pitfalls you can come across because of it. For me, what I’m experiencing now that I’m setting it up, is I’m starting to see these conflicting scripts that are creating larger errors down the line. Stick with the naming conventions, stick with the field names that NetSuite has, otherwise, it becomes a semantics issue. One of the issues I come across daily is, I’m speaking with departments and the semantics will not sync up. Using the proper fields, using the proper financial forms, and using those fields out of the box as much as possible is ideal.

 

Rico

You mentioned that you would go as far as instead of adapting NetSuite to the processes, see if there’s opportunity to tweak the process to adapt to the out of the box capabilities of NetSuite?

 

Margaret

So often I’ve seen the teams are trying to figure out how to have their process fit into NetSuite, and really, it’s how can we change our process and just have NetSuite take on that workload for us? So it’s like needing to re train your brain, and the company a little bit, to adopt the processes. It’s hard for people to let go of certain day to day activities, they don’t want to let go of it, and they want to stick with how things work. It’s about training teams to adopt a new way of processing whether it’s sales or finance or logistics.

 

Rico

Do you have a specific example of something that you yourself might have adapted to meet NetSuite needs?

 

Margaret

There’s so many instances. I think during customizations during the past, and implementations of NetSuite in the past, the initial meeting with external companies, we talked about how we’re going to fit this product line. Really, it was a matter of going back to one of our vendors and letting them know that we needed the information in a different way for us to function in our ERP system. You have to remind people that we don’t need to be spinning our wheels so hard.

 

Rico

So let’s talk a little bit about the role that iCharts specifically played in helping you double check your work, and validate the data.

 

Margaret

Sure, so when we acquired iCharts, we had our team members coming to weekly meetings with reports that didn’t match each other. The same thing was happening within iCharts. When we were creating these reporting criteria, they each required something different out of the system. First I had to come to the conclusion, what information do we want to see? Then we built those charts based on that. Once we had the charts built together, we noticed that some of the team, the reports weren’t matching up. That was a big red flag for me. We realized that a lot of the discrepancies were due to some custom fields that we had in NetSuite and it came down to an issue of how are we entering the info into NetSuite and how are we doing it. So, there wasn’t a clear line across the board for the company to say this is were we put the information and this is what we do with it. ICharts helped us to see that in front of our face. If you put bad information in, you’re going to get back reporting out. It was a matter of going back and starting to document those processes and getting the information and what it means. Our sales and marketing team were creating SKUs, and there were a number of fields that they needed to fill out. There were some fields that were required from logistics, so sales would put information in, but they wouldn’t know what impact that had, or what was required. Since then, we’ve documented the fields, and we’ve explained to each of the teams what they do and what they mean to the team. Then we could use iCharts to monitor the data and make sure it was accurate.

 

Rico

You mentioned something that you also had an intuition that. There were things that were off with how you were doing your your existing reports but you were going to really able to. Tell that kind of convince management I guess until I tried to come aboard.

 

Margaret:

Yeah so I what I did really is. It helped quantify really. An issue that needed to be addressed but may not have we may not have. The me bring didn’t have a reason to look at all the same reports and now we’ve brought in we have brought in I’ve heard from We’ve bought it we want to see if we want to utilize it but we can’t right now because of the way that we’re processing. This discrepancy is actually how it’s. As able to use that you bring it to our C.E.O. And say this is this is a problem and this is how I think the problem and and. This is where it needs to be fixed so. I hope when we hope to see it kind of worked we worked backwards which is funny and you and I are both about this usually around yet pretty interesting and now is everyone looking at the the same reports the same source of truth and there are. So we’re working and I am my chance now we have are we have to have the sales report like. For two of our sales managers and then we have one for our director of sales so he’s looking at full of the information both of the sales tool for mission and then we have one for our finance team which is very largely the gross profit and. Revenue by day by week right here so there’s a lot of a lot of targets that we have currently and we’re working on some forecasting charts so those are. And then working with your team to get those up and running and that we really just needed to get the basics down Earth and so that we can start building more robust character and looking at more bigger business that.

 

Rico

Before we go to the last point, for folks who don’t understand, how is iCharts different from the built in NetSuite reporting capabilities?

 

Margaret

So NetSuite out of the box reporting is just a standard report. They’re built just to do a basic report within the system, but it’s not accurate, and it’s not precise. You’re not choosing the criteria you want to pull from. What iCharts does, is allows you to create a saved search, and present that data in real time, and it’s visually representing that data in a much more appealing way than NetSuite’s out of the box reporting. You can changed the saved search in NetSuite to pull different criteria and the iChart will update in real time. That’s really great. We can do that in NetSuite but it takes much longer, and you don’t have the options like iCharts like how you want it presented.

 

Rico

Do you have any final tips, tricks, suggestions for anyone who’s embarking in this journey, maybe something that you would have told yourself years ago when you’re starting out?

 

Margaret

I think the basics really are, be organized, spend the time to put the details in writing. Spend the time to understand the process and continually look at how are you are entering your business operations as you grow, continue to evaluate each month, do those little health checks. It’s going to save you in the end it’s really just a headache, I end up finding all of these issues and having them when you wait too long. So document everything, and preparing everything for analytics, making sure that everyone is looking at the same information. And iCharts. ICharts is awesome! If you’re using NetSuite, you’re not going to get that reporting from Netsuite. There’s just no way to get around it. I can’t imagine not having it. Definitely get iCharts. I’ve said it before, I don’t know how I’d work without it.

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