More often than not, NetSuite implementations face unnecessary challenges when there is no clear plan as to how the ERP solution and the environment will be delivered to the end users.
Most of the time, the fault lies with the implementation consultants as it is their duty to understand their client’s business, all relevant processes, assess all possible risks or pitfalls before the project execution phase, and finally create a plan or set of tasks that will lead the implementation to its final Go-Live phase.
In this article I will discuss the final checklist of the tasks that must be duly completed before we can call an implementation a “success.” Although the checklist will vary from organization to organization, the order of tasks and their dependencies will typically follow the same pattern.
Please note that this article assumes that you have completed the initial configuration of your NetSuite account, and that you have imported your Chart of Accounts.
Part 1 – Process Setup and Testing
a. UAT Process and Process Templates
After NetSuite has been configured (all the preferences, features, segments, COA, custom forms, custom fields, custom scripts have been setup and deployed), the NetSuite implementation consultant will typically hand out detailed templates of NetSuite’s transactional processes. These templates are default transactional workflows in NetSuite. The client and their team (usually comprised of business process owners for each functional department) will review and amend all the processes to fit their unique needs. They will also review and modify the “Roles” in NetSuite to ensure that every user can access all the records and transactions that are relevant to their duties and responsibilities. Once all the processes have been defined and tested with the appropriate roles in NetSuite, the above mentioned templates will become business operating guides that will be used for User Acceptance Testing (UAT).
b. End User Training based on UAT Process Templates
After the processes have been defined, the implementation consultant will train the organization’s user(s) in each NetSuite functional area. These training sessions will be based on the guides defined in the step above.
c. System Cleanup / Deletion of Test Data
If a sandbox environment is not available, the testing and process building phase of the project may generate unnecessary “test” data. You will need to delete all the test transactions and records as they may contaminate your general ledger activity. After you have deleted the data, ensure there are no balances in your general ledger by running and validating your detailed trial balance report.
d. Lock Access to NetSuite
Upon cleanup completion, it is advisable to remove NetSuite access given to general users during the testing phase. Generally, only the Administrators should have access to the system at this point, and they should not be creating any new test transactions as you’re preparing to go live.
Part 2 – Data Migration Stage
a. CSV import of Customers, Vendors and Items (Inventory and Non-Inventory)
The time for testing transactions with “test” Customer and Vendor data is over. The implementation cannot proceed without the complete and verified import of Customers, Vendors and Items. It is recommended to import the Customers and Vendors first, ensuring and validating that all the forms, custom fields and custom lists are setup correctly before the import begins. After the Customer and Vendor records are in NetSuite, you can commence importing the Items (Inventory and Non-Inventory).
Remember to use / populate the “external id” field during your imports, this is especially important if you will be updating your data frequently, and if you are migrating your data from one NetSuite instance to another. The External ID field needs to be a unique and logical alphanumeric value.
b. Historical Financial Data
Many clients require comprehensive historical financial data for comparative reporting and reference purposes. In 99% of the cases, the external systems from which the data is being imported are architecturally different from NetSuite. Thus, before you can bring your financial activity into NetSuite, a considerable “massage” or mapping of your data to the new structure is required. Accordingly, it is important to determine the most cost effective method for migrating your historical financial data into NetSuite. There are three widely accepted approaches:
- Opening Balance Approach with no Transaction History
Opening balance would be entered with net changes per account, per historical accounting period.
- Journal entry imports with Customer and Vendor History
This approach allows the GL activity to be mapped to Customer / Project / Vendor records. Transactional details are stored in a memo field.
- Import or set the Opening Balance for all the GL accounts for the beginning of the historical year.
- Export all GL lines by historical period from the external system and import them to NetSuite generating one journal entry per historical period. These lines may have transactional data and this can be recorded in journal entry memo fields (line-level).
Important: Net changes are to be imported into NetSuite, not beginning balance per account.
- Map each journal entry line to your Customer / Vendor records for reference and Sales / Purchase history.
- Please Note: The GL impact of any open A/P or A/R transactions may have been posted to the General Ledger during the import of the GL historical / previous accounting period activity (via Journal Entries). Therefore, you must insure that no duplicate activity is posted to GL when establishing the A/P and A/R sub ledger open balances.
- Complete Transaction history
This approach requires the most time and resources to implement, migrate and validate. In order to avoid complications with balancing and revaluing inventory, it is recommended to use a non-inventory item on a line level of Vendor Bills and Invoices. Once imported, these transactions will post to a special NetSuite’s Open Balances Account. This assumes that tracking of the actual historical stock is not a requirement.
- With the creation of a custom transaction column field (sourcing NetSuite Items) the organization can track what items were purchased or sold.
- There would be one (non-inventory) item per transaction line.
- The total amount on that transaction line will be equal to the transaction total.
If your organization has high transaction volumes, we recommend approaches 1 or 2 as these would be the most efficient ways to bring your historical financials into NetSuite. Should your company have few historical transactions, it would be worth implementing approach 3 as it would provide you with valuable transaction detail. These decisions will be made by your project stakeholders with the help and guidance of your NetSuite consultants.
c. Open Transactions
Unlike the previous step, open transactions must be entered or imported into NetSuite. It is important that all the items are correctly setup in the system as the imports will need to reference actual inventory and non-inventory items. It is also important that all of the Customers and Vendors have been migrated to NetSuite (see Part 2, Section a).
Part 3 – Opening Balances and Inventory
Just before the Go-Live date, preferably at the end of the accounting period, the implementation team will complete the final set of implementation tasks.
a. Inventory Worksheet vs Inventory Adjustment
Depending on the type of Inventory Items setup in the system, the team will either use:
- Inventory Adjustments to load Serialized and Lot Item stock into the system.
- Inventory Worksheet to load all other inventory items into NetSuite.
b. Journal Entries for Opening Balances (Current Year)
After the Inventory has been adjusted, the team will need to either enter the opening balances for GL accounts or import them via CSV import functionality. Important: All open transactions imported in Part 2, Section c, need to be accounted for in order to avoid duplication.
c. Review of the Financial Reports and Validation
Finally, reviewing and validating all financial reports and trial balances will identify any inconsistencies and importing errors. These could be corrected with additional updates or correcting journal entries.
d. Delta Transactions
Between the import of open transactions (see Part 2, Section c) and opening balances entry (point b above), there were likely other transactions created in the legacy accounting system. These will either be entered in NetSuite or imported via the CSV importing tool.
e. Go-Live Date
Congratulations, you’ve made it! It is important for all the stakeholders and project team members to monitor the system and note any errors or inconsistencies during the initial go-live timeframe. When identified early, these issues can usually be resolved expeditiously.
In conclusion, the absence of proper planning, preparation and guidance will likely result in an implementation riddled with unnecessary challenges and a lower degree of confidence in the deployed solution. Failed implementations can be very costly in terms of wasted time, resources and money. The above checklist, in addition to the right team and implementation methodology, will help make your transition to NetSuite a true “success!”
For more information about NetSuite or for assistance with your NetSuite implementation, please contact FMT Consultants.
Ilija Budimir, Sr. NetSuite Consultant
Posted by: Jakob Bechgaard