NetSuite is a powerful enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that can be customized to support your unique business needs. Out of the many NetSuite features, we think workflow automation and saved search technology is worth noting to improve processing and strengthen your control environment. In this post, we’ll explore the tool and share some ideas about how you can best leverage such NetSuite customization for your company.
What Can NetSuite Workflows Do?
NetSuite customization can be used to create workflows that achieve several business objectives:
- Eliminate manual and redundant processes
- Automate financial processes
- Improve controls design and operation
- Automate communication
- Ensure appropriate supporting documents are generated and approval is obtained
Workflows can improve all of the accounting/operations processes including Quote to Cash, Procure to Pay and the treasury function.
NetSuite Workflow Case Study: A Client’s Process Transformation
8020 recently used NetSuite customization to create workflows that transformed our client’s manual Quote to Cash process into an automated process.
Here’s How the Transformation Happened
With a manual Quote to Cash process, employees were spending a lot of time sending approval emails back and forth, then printing approvals to save in bottomless cabinets or maintaining the data in Excel. Using NetSuite Workflow, we automated communications and approvals in the Quote to Cash process.
One workflow managed the flow of transactions, requiring a sales order (SO) be generated prior to an invoice. The workflow was designed so that all SOs had to be reviewed and approved by management prior to other departments acting on them. Upon SO approval, the workflow would automatically send an email to the purchasing department with a hyperlink to the SO for further processing. Then the purchasing department could fulfill and receive against the SO, which triggered another automated email (and hyperlink) once the items were fulfilled in NetSuite.
The automated email notified accounting to generate an invoice. To further enhance this process, we used saved search technology to track SOs fulfilled but not invoiced. With NetSuite customization, we were able to fully automate the various communications and enhance the control environment by implementing a streamlined workflow.
NetSuite Business Process Optimization
As illustrated in the case study above, process design and execution are critical to the operations of a company. A company can spend unnecessary time and money on a manual process that “isn’t broken” but that operates with mediocrity. NetSuite workflows can propel your accounting team to the next level by transforming a time-consuming manual process into an efficient automated process, reducing the likelihood of an inadvertent human error.
Workflows increase employees’ capacity and allow them to be more engaged in critical details rather than focused on the administrative tasks of saving email approvals, email communication to other departments and Excel tracking. As a result, it’s common for morale to increase as employees see the company putting a high value on their time and making an investment in their job function and future.
Strengthening the Control Environment with NetSuite
My experience serving as an auditor when the COSO framework was developed gave me a first-hand understanding of the critical importance of a strong control environment. NetSuite workflows help to ensure that a robust control environment is maintained. This, in turn, translates to a smooth audit. All finance professionals agree that a short audit is a great audit!
NetSuite workflows use automation to ensure controls are followed and documentation is maintained in one easily accessible format. As illustrated in the case study, approval controls are easily achieved through workflows, and documentation can be maintained in the NetSuite database. (Our recent blog offers related data best practices, particularly when switching to NetSuite.)
NetSuite also has a visual illustration of the workflow process that clearly identifies key activities and various touch points. Having all control documentation in one place provides a central point from which to extract what’s needed for an audit.
The Importance of Change Management During a NetSuite Transition
Employee morale is critical to a successful conversion to automation. Change management is therefore an important part of process improvement as automation can reduce staff workloads by up to 30%. To avoid any unintentional consequences, management should regularly communicate automation goals to employees. (Employee engagement in financial system implementations is critical.) Otherwise, employees may resist changing from a comfortable process to an unknown automated process, and they may worry about becoming obsolete or being replaced because of automation.
Employees need a clear picture of their new duties and responsibilities in an automated environment. If they feel comfortable that automation will allow them to become more engaged in the profitability of the company, changes will trigger less resistance and more enthusiasm.
NetSuite Customization Brings Value Across the Board
An experienced finance professional with strong NetSuite customization skills can create workflows that bring great value by automating processes, increasing the effectiveness of financial controls and improving employee morale. All of this will solidify your company and set it up for growth and success in the future.
Is your company considering NetSuite? Contact 8020 here, and we can share the many possibilities of NetSuite customization, or download our service sheet below for more information on how we can support your financial systems needs.
About the Author
Brett has 14 years of diverse accounting and finance experience spanning several industries at companies including Assurant, eHarmony, Cornerstone OnDemand, Paradigm Talent and William Warren Group. He is an Ernst & Young alumnus with industry experience that includes SaaS, Real Estate, Construction, Insurance and Banking. As a consultant, Brett implemented critical financial structures and best practices for accounting and operational controls. Prior to joining 8020 Consulting, Brett held Controllership roles for a Real Estate Investment Group and SaaS companies. Brett holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and an MBA from Kennesaw State University and holds a CPA license in the state of Georgia.