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A NetSuite Software Product Review

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Integration and Customization
The NetSuite Business Operating System (NS-BOS) is a platform as a service (PaaS) customization and development environment with extremely tight hooks into the NetSuite data model, objects and business processes. NetSuite offers several tools which support the manipulation of objects, the creation of custom objects and integration to NetSuite.

Simple table manipulation or modification of fields can be performed by system administrators in a visual, code-free, point and click approach. However, more advanced customization and integration requires programming using the JavaScript-based SuiteScript.

System integration can be performed with third party middleware tools such as Cast Iron or Boomi, or the NetSuite SuiteTalk tool which uses XML web services to expose NetSuite objects. NS-BOS is fundamentally different to Force.com in that the later makes leveraging the existing Salesforce.com application (but not the delivery network) optional, where instead NS-BOS is designed to tap into and further use or repurpose NetSuite core business applications so that developers can focus on extending or creating new solutions rather than recreating core ERP or CRM functions.

SuiteFlow, a semi-graphical workflow design tool, permits rules-based workflow assignment for events such as process approvals or alert notifications. It's inherently limited to common business processes, however is built on the SuiteScript foundation so can be extended to some degree. This tool is a big help in streamlining transaction flow, reducing cycle times and improving process automation across departments.

The company is aggressively trying to increase the size and quality of its partner programs. Partners include Solution Providers (resellers), System Integrators, ISV SuiteCloud Developers, Referral Partners, Accountants and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). While most NetSuite partners are small businesses, its OEM partners include UPS, FedEx, eBay, PayPal and CyberSource, and it has recently signed up integrator Accenture and CPA firm McGladrey.

The Solution Provider resellers are key to NetSuite increasing its global distribution and revenue growth. To achieve this, NetSuite is picking up their partner recruiting efforts and offering aggressive reseller margins. However, the partner program has seen mixed results over the years, including acquiring the wrong partners and incurring frequent partner turnover. Business application channels too often produce according to the 80/20 rule, and NetSuite seems to be struggling to find its balance between channel producers and channel overhead. Getting the right channel partners is difficult to begin with, and operating a hybrid sales model with both direct sales and an indirect sales channel puts partners at risk. To date, CRM and ERP channels that have been the most successful only sell through the channel in order to encourage their partners to make bigger investments, avoid channel conflict and freely distribute company acquired leads to the channel. NetSuite now faces a challenge and an opportunity to leverage an indirect channel in order to get to the next level of company size.

Online third party ecosystems are a critical success factor for business apps cloud or SaaS players. NetSuite's SuiteApp.com is an evolving marketplace of cloud products, development tools and services to help NetSuite customers simply and quickly extend their solution and investment. It doesn't yet have the momentum of competitors such as Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics, but it clearly gaining traction.

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Business software channels too often produce according to Pareto's 80/20 principle, and NetSuite seems to be struggling to find its balance between channel producers and channel overhead.

 

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