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3 Ways to Future-proof your NetSuite Implementation

3 Ways to Future-proof your NetSuite Implementation

Implementing NetSuite marks a major operational milestone at businesses preparing for growth or expansion. Yet, as we've seen over the last several years, even well-prepared plans can face unexpected hurdles. A robust financial and procurement foundation is essential, but agility and real-time visibility are equally important to guide businesses through volatility.  

While NetSuite's native functionalities cover many bases, the global ERP provider also acknowledges that innovation outside of the ERP market arises even faster than regular upgrades to the ERP core. In fact, many businesses select NetSuite because of its expansive ecosystem of pre-integrated solution partners — to get the power of best-of-breed apps quickly without risking time and resources on another technology deployment.

So, where to start future-proofing your NetSuite implementation? We suggest tackling three common bottleneck areas hindering rapid growth for finance and procurement teams.

1. Automate invoice processing and payments

One of the first areas finance teams usually invest after implementing NetSuite is in accounts payable automation. For fast-growing and expanding businesses, the reasons are obvious: as your volume of vendors grows, keeping up with regular invoices and payment batches can quickly become a headache for controllers and AP teams.

AP automation solutions capture and validate the contents of invoices, allowing AP teams to significantly reduce manual labor when creating invoices in NetSuite, matching invoice content against purchase orders (POs), and approving bills for payment. Modern AP automation solutions typically use a combination of optical character recognition (OCR) and AI-based methods to automatically extract the contents of an invoice, which businesses can easily collect via a vendor portal or a dedicated email inbox that vendors can send invoices to.

With these and other features, businesses typically unlock the following benefits from adding AP automation on top of NetSuite:

  • For AP teams: eliminate days of manual work processing invoices and guarantee accurate matching to PO to prevent late and duplicate payments 
  • For controllers: create comprehensive visibility into payables and proactively triage issues to protect balance sheet health
  • For procurement: Support stronger relationships by ensuring timely vendor payments
  • For CFOs: Deliver a complete picture of what the business is spending on with what vendors in a easily consumable dashboards and reports

Accounts Payable automation software is a strategic investment for businesses aiming to optimize their AP processes. To access all of these benefits, however, finance and procurement organizations cannot focus on just the AP process alone. Because AP automation comes at the end of the procure-to-pay process, it is inherently dependent on data captured upstream in the request and purchase order generation processes. Accordingly, consider the full scope of your procure-to-pay process as you evaluate how to unlock benefits from AP automation.

2. Unlock agility with no-code workflows

While NetSuite expertly manages and reports accounting and financial data, the evolution of businesses and the decentralization of purchasing tasks demand more flexible solutions. The growth of SaaS and shift to subscription models have made workflows for requesting, approving, and executing purchases increasingly complex. NetSuite, like other ERPs, is not primarily a workflow system and may not fully meet these nuanced needs.

In response, businesses often customize their NetSuite instances, but this can be time-consuming and may require external help. Instead, modern finance and procurement teams are turning to no-code workflow platforms for tasks such as purchase request intake, cross-functional approvals, vendor onboarding, renewal management and more.. These platforms allow quick configuration and updates without the need for IT or third-party support.

Adopting a no-code approach to finance and procurement workflows offers numerous benefits: 

  • For AP Teams: Workflow automation reduces manual effort and potential for errors, leading to increased efficiency and accuracy in managing purchase requests and vendor payments.
  • For Controllers: Real-time workflow reporting and clear audit trails help maintain compliance, reduce risk, and support accurate financial decision-making.
  • For Procurement: Automated workflows simplify vendor onboarding and purchase requests, accelerating procurement cycles and improving supplier management.
  • For CFOs: Accurate, real-time visibility into procurement and payment processes enables informed strategic decisions, risk management, and enhanced productivity.

However, it's crucial to choose a true no-code workflow platform, not just an app with a configurable interface. Look for platforms that allow flexible modifications like adding or removing approval steps on the fly, rearranging sequence of steps with drag-and-drop, and simple cross-system task integration without additional coding.

3. Create a single front door for all purchase requests

As your business grows and enters new markets, your employees need resources to support their product or service delivery. NetSuite ensures that you maintain a single, auditable record of all transaction activity, so you know how much money you’ve spent, with what vendors, and that you’ve received satisfactory delivery of goods and services.

For the typical front-line employee making a purchase request, however, these benefits are not as readily obvious. To them, their experience of a successful purchase is getting a timely approval of their request for the desired vendor or supply, with minimal manual effort required to understand how to secure approval and continuous transparency into how the process is unfolding.

Creating such an experience is why innovative businesses have rapidly begun adopting intake-to-procure solutions as the single front door for purchasing requests to NetSuite. Called out by the Gartner Hype Cycle as one of the fastest growing emerging technologies in the sourcing and procurement space, intake-to-procure solutions provide a centralized interface for all stakeholders to request, approve, and collaborate on procurement processes. It's a one-stop shop for all teams, enabling cross-functional approval processes for procurement, IT, controllers, security, legal, and executive teams.

Because intake-to-procure touches many business functions, the benefits of implementing it as the front door to NetSuite are numerous. A quick summary includes:

  • Procurement: significantly improved spend under management (increase PO-backed spend to 98.7%) while improving adoption and employee satisfaction with procurement
  • Finance: With clean purchase and invoice coding data collected up front and a stronger audit trail, controllers can close the books much faster and with confidence
  • IT: With oversight into all functions, IT can be involved much earlier in software requests, helping to improve predictability and reduce redundant vendor selection
  • Security: Intake-to-procure provides automated solutions for security that reduces the time spent reviewing questionnaires. Digitalization improves metrics around security and compliance. It streamlines the processes, allowing for time freed up to spend in other security matters.
  • Legal: By looping in legal from the start of procurement intake, legal has adequate time to review documents and eliminates last-minute reviews.

Is opportunity knocking at your business? Don’t leave it hanging because you were stuck in your basement manually folding all of your invoice laundry. Learn how to automate your intake, vendor onboarding, and AP processes without complexity by adding Zip, a Built for NetSuite App, as the single front door for purchase requests.

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Margin Makers is a newsletter for anyone responsible for spending at work. We curate practical guides and original ideas for finance and procurement teams to help them do their jobs better.
Nick Heinzmann
Head of Research at Zip

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