ERP Guru Takes on SuiteWorld 2011

The ERP Guru team arrived back at their respective airports this past Thursday after a whirlwind four days in San Francisco. This year NetSuite opened its doors to users and partners alike, making it their largest conference to date. It is my best estimate that NetSuite saw nearly 2000 people roll through the doors of the Marriott. The opening weekend was devoted to pre-conference training, and ERP Guru's arrival coincided with the official start of the conference.

Tuesday morning's general session was led by Zach Nelson, NetSuite's CEO. "The Cloud Changes Everything" was the title of the presentation and Zach sure showed the crowd the extent to which NetSuite is leading the way. NetSuite's business is clearly changing course; "Let's face it, no one wants to do accounting in the cloud, they want to do business processes." stated Zach Nelson during his keynote address. This shift is evident in Accenture's coming on board as a partner along with NetSuite's goal of selling to Fortune 500 companies. The impressive announcement that Groupon is now a NetSuite customer proves that the company is moving towards a larger, more geographically diverse client base.

Evan Goldberg, co-founder and CTO of NetSuite, was the speaker at Wednesday's general session. His presentation focused on NetSuite's growing assortment of partner applications. Social tools from Qontext, supply chain execution from ebizNet and Google App integration from Celigo were all unveiled. SuitePhone mobile extensions were discussed, but from the reaction of the crowd, improvements to NetSuite's analytics and means of presenting graphical information stole the show.

A larger portion of the conference was dedicated to breakout sessions. NetSuite offered eight different streams ranging from Sales, Executive Insights and SuiteCloud Platform. I personally attended the sales centric sessions and was thoroughly impressed by the caliber of the presentations. All talks were delivered by either Directors or VPs of NetSuite which fostered a sense of intimacy with the the growing company.

Overall, SuiteWorld 2011 was a huge success. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post reviewing some of the more technical solutions that were unveiled at the conference.

August: Tips & Tricks

1 - RSS/Atom Feeds on your Dashboard
It is possible to publish information from news sources and RSS feeds on your personalized dashboard. There are certain feeds that NetSuite offers as a default; however you can also display custom RSS feeds from other sites or create a custom feed to publish messages to users of your NetSuite account.
Display custom RSS feeds from other sites with these steps:
  1. Choose Personalize Dashboard so that the “Add Content” pane appears.
  2. Select RSS/Atom Feed.

To remove a feed, click the X in the upper-right corner of the portlet.
*Note that a RSS feed that an admin has set up is automatically added to your dashboard.

2 - What’s the difference between KPIs, KPI meters, and KPI scorecards?
  • A KPI shows a quick table of the key performance indicators that you select to be displayed. The table includes the KPI name, the period being compared (this month versus last month, for example), the current value, the previous value, and the percentage change. This portlet provides a quick overview of a number of KPIs.
  • A KPI meter shows how you’re doing on a particular KPI.
  • KPI scorecards are powerful analytical tools that are mainly used by managers to monitor the relationships among KPIs (ie, they can monitor the company’s fiscal health).
    3 - Setting a minimum order amount
    In some circumstances or business models, it may be necessary to require that customers order a minimum amount (ie, if credit card companies are charging you a certain percentage per order etc).
    In order to set the minimum order amount in NetSuite:
    1. Navigate to Setup >Web Site >Set Up Website
    2. Select the Shopping tab.
    3. Enter the minimum order amount desired for orders
    Following this, any order that totals less than the amount you set will receive an error message. Alternatively, you can also set a minimum order quantities (not dollar amount) for individual items by filling out the Minimum Quantity field under the Sales/Pricing tab.



    An Introduction to Product Life Cycle Management (PLM)

    Successful companies focus on core competencies to produce truly valuable products and services. Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) helps manufacturing, as well as architecture, engineering and construction firms to manage product design and production details in order to achieve just that. 

    Product Life Cycle Management
    Product Life Cycle Management - Cycle Components
    But what does a PLM system actually do, and what should it include? 

    By integrating people, data, processes and business systems, a PLM system provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise in order to unite business processes and solve varying business needs.

    In general, PLM refers to the upfront parts of the product cycle - the management of CAD, product design data, documentation and BOMs as well as integrated product and project management. In an Aberdeen survey in 2012, respondents denoted which capabilities should be part of an integrated PLM solution -  the top five can be seen in Table I. 

    In essence, an effective PLM needs the capabilities that can centralize product data and manage the related workflows. 

    Benefits of PLM Software

    The traditional benefits of PLM software focus around time, cost and quality, and as a result has significant impact on internal (improving use of cost-center resources like core R&D, engineering, prototypes, and samples), supplier-facing (enhancing the ability to purchase materials, parts, and customer services) and customer-facing (increased knowledge for product characteristics and development) operational efficiency.

    Potential business benefits include: 
    • Greater visibility to critical information
    • More efficient business processes
    • Improved supplier collaboration
    • Faster time-to-market
    • Improved compliance to industry standards
    • Higher product quality 
    • Faster response to market dynamics
    • Improved program and project visibility
    • Reduced waste
    • Greater component reuse

    Overall, when deciding whether or not to adapt a PLM solution, it is important to assess business objectives that highlight the 'pains' or needs that you desire to solve with a PLM system.


    Pay Employee Expenses on Payroll via Direct Deposit

    It’s more convenient for everyone involved to reimburse employees via direct deposit for expenses on their payroll check - two payments accomplished in one transaction. If your employees submit Expense Reports, those approved reports can be included automatically in your payroll process.


    There are a couple of limitations to be aware of before implementing this feature in your company’s workflow. Payments for expenses to employees can only be made on payroll day. (If you need to make one on a non-payroll day, you’ll have to use a “Pay Bill” transaction.) If you are reimbursing employees for an amount on an Expense Report, you will have to reimburse for the whole amount. This method does not allow for partial reimbursement.

    Configure Direct Deposit

    If you want pay Employees via Direct Deposit, you will first need to configure an account for these payments. NetSuite uses Ceridian for processing Direct Deposit, so you will need an account with Ceridian to be able to use Direct Deposit Payroll (If you are using the legacy Basic Payroll module, you will need an account with Coastal for processing).

    To discover whether or not you are set up with Ceridian, go to Setup> Payroll> Setup Payroll. If there is a Service Start Date then you are using the Premier Payroll (Direct Deposit ready via Ceridian).

    If there's none, then you’re just using basic payroll. Basic payroll users can also do Direct Deposit through Coastal, but NetSuite no longer sells Basic Payroll module. If you are using Basic Payroll, you will need to setup the Direct Deposit directly with Coastal.

    After configuring NetSuite to work with Direct Deposit, you will also need to configure the payment for each employee. This involves entering their bank account and routing number as well as sending a prenote to the employee’s bank account to verify that the transmission is working properly.

    Configure the System to Pay Expenses on Payroll

    So let’s assume your Direct Deposit has been configured and your employee bank accounts entered. Now it’s time to set up your payroll for reimbursing expenses.

    First, you will need to enable the Pay Expenses on Paycheck preference within NetSuite. This preference simply turns on the feature for use in your system.
    1. Go to Setup > Payroll > Set Up Payroll;
    2. Check the Pay Expenses on Paychecks box;
    3. Click Save.

    After enabling the feature, you will need a payroll item you can use for reimbursing employees. So the next step is to create a payroll item.

    Because we do not want this reimbursement item to affect tax withholdings or the employee’s gross pay, we will use Earning:Expense as the item type. This means that the dollar amount posted will be added to the employees net pay. Also, the amount will not be included on the employee’s W2 form.

    Create a Payroll Item

    1. Go to Lists > Employees > Payroll Items > New (Administrator)
    2. Click on the Earning:Expense link
    3. On the Payroll Expense Item page, if you have a NetSuite OneWorld account, select a subsidiary from the drop-down list in the Subsidiary field
    4. Enter a name for the earning item
    5. The Type field displays payroll item type - this type determines how this new earning will be taxed and reported.
    6. Select a Report Section from the drop-down list to specify which section of payroll reports should display this amount.
    7. Check the Inactive check box to prevent the use of this Earning Item - clear the check box to make it available.
    8. Click Save.

    If you would like to pay approved Expense Reports on an employee’s paycheck, you will need to add this new Payroll Item to the Employee’s Payroll record.

    Add an expense payroll item to an employee record

    1. Go to Lists > Employees > Employees
    2. Click Edit next to the employee name
    3. On the employee record click the Payroll subtab
    4. Click the Earnings subtab
    5. In the Earnings field, select the expense payroll item
    6. Click Add
    7. Click Save.

    Reimbursing Expenses On Payroll Day

    1. Go to Transactions > Employees > Create Payroll
    2. On the Payroll Run page, verify that the Pay Expenses box is checked
    3. Check the box in the Pay column next to each employee you want to pay
    4. Click Calculate
    5. On the Payroll batch page, click View next to a paycheck
    6. Click the Expenses subtab
    7. Verify that the expense amounts are correct and that the box is checked in the Pay column next to all expenses you are paying
    8. Click Accept.


    Using Custom Criteria in Commission Calculations

    Commission calculations are usually complex and can vary widely from organization to organization.  Previously, you may have been manually calculating & maintaining these calculations in an Excel application, but NetSuite has an Incentive Compensation module that can assist with these calculations, as well as tracking, authorization, and payments.

    The NetSuite Incentive Compensation (commission) add-on module functionality allows users to qualify, calculate, and pay on a variety of options.  These options include qualifying commissions on Sales, Quota, Quantity, Inventory, etc. as well as calculations of eligible amounts on either Billings, Collections, or a combination of both.

    As a standard function, NetSuite allows for further categorization of these amounts by classes, departments, or location.  The option for a “custom” selection allows users to categorize commissionable amounts using Saved Searches with standard and customized fields.  For example, “I would like to pay commissions at different rates depending on tenure (date) of the customer relationship” - this option would not be possible using classes, departments, or location; rather you would use the ‘Commissionable Item saved search’ to either source from an existing NetSuite field or from a new custom field.

    Section 1 – Define Commissionable Item Saved Search

    Step 1.  Create Commissionable Item saved search
    Under List > Search > Saved Searches > New, select "Commissionable Item Saved Search".  Define and save the desired criteria; this search will then be available as a drop down selection using the ‘custom’ categorized field in the commission schedule.

    Step 2.  Define the Saved Search criteria or calculation fields that you will use to ‘qualify’ the date and show on the results tab.

    Step 3.  IMPORTANT:  Please verify that the Internal ID is selected as a column display on your “Results” tab - it is required for commissions to calculate properly.

    Step 4.  Review the Commissionable Item saved search for data integrity to ensure it is pulling the correct data.  Please keep in mind, that we are only sourcing data here and not actually completing the commission calculations.

    Step 5.  Feel free to setup and create additional searches as needed for different rates or qualifiers, for example you will pay a different rate of commission on different years, etc.

    This Commissionable Item Saved Search now needs to be attached to a commission schedule to perform the calculations.

    Section 2 -  Create New Commission Schedule 

    Step 6. Select 'New' under Lists > Commissions > Employee Schedules. Name and define the commission schedule according to your commission plan.

    Step 7. Select the appropriate "Commission On" qualifier; once this is selected, you will be able to further categorize by Classes, Locations, Departments, or in this case, select (Custom).

    Step 8. Select your Saved Search that you created in Section 1.

    The final step of the setup is to assign the schedule to a commission plan.

    Section 3 – Assign Commission Schedule to Commission Plan

    A commission plan defines the schedule and what employees are assigned to that plan.  You can have multiple schedules to help you define various calculations for different sets of employees.

    Step 9. Under Lists > Commissions > Employee Plans,  select 'New' to create a Commission Plan. Name your Commission Plan and select the commission schedule name (under Schedule) containing the ‘custom’ Commissionable Item qualifier you desire.

    Step 10. Assign your employees to the appropriate plan.  Please note, a sales rep can only be assigned to one commission plan during a given period of time.

    After completing these steps, your custom commissions are setup and ready for testing.  By using a customized saved search, a NetSuite user now has the ability to further qualify commissionable amounts by a variety of custom and standard fields used in many transactional forms.  You can also use multiple customized saved searches to differentiate different payout percentages, and amounts.

    By having this flexibility to further qualify commissionable amounts using custom fields and saved searches, this further enhances the ability to use the Incentive Compensation module and report functionality to ensure calculations are paid correctly, accurately, with little or no possibility of dual payments or overages.