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NetSuite Beefs Up ERP Functions

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Posted May 27, 2004 By Kevin Newcomb     Feedback

Latest release continues path of bringing high-end ERP features online to make them available to the lower end of the market.

Software service provider NetSuite on Thursday unveiled the latest features to be included in the next major release of its on-demand business software, adding advanced ERP features that include revenue recognition, allocations, advanced budgeting, advanced billing and substantial multi-currency capabilities.

"This continues the path we've been on of bringing more and more high-end ERP features into the online model that we've established," Zach Nelson, NetSuite CEO, told ASPnews. "This will open new markets for us, particularly in larger companies. Just as importantly, it brings high-end features down to the low end of the market."

While the added features will make NetSuite competitive with established ERP products serving larger companies, NetSuite's sweet spot continues to be the mid-market, he said. NetSuite's products include NetSuite, NetCRM, NetERP and Oracle Small Business Suite. The new ERP features will be available across the product line with the Q3 release of NetSuite.

"Small companies have complex needs too," Nelson said. "The things we're announcing are going to be a boon to them, because finally they have something within their reach, both from a usability standpoint and a cost standpoint."

Typical ERP implementations may require lengthy, expensive consulting projects to perform initial installation and substantial ongoing maintenance. In addition, to automate a business completely, companies often spend more than the cost of the software license to integrate ERP applications with CRM systems and Web systems, he said.

Small and midsized companies need to automate similarly complex business processes, but have far fewer resources available to address these issues. They have, therefore, had to live with multiple disparate systems in which data is maintained in separate silos for each department and which is brought together periodically in order to prepare financial statements.

"Because of the integrated nature of our application, even when we add what would traditionally be seen as an ERP feature, the functionality and benefits cascade across the front office, the back office and the web site," Nelson said.

NetSuite's on-demand architecture uses a single database to bring together separate applications like customer relationship management, financials, inventory management, order management and ecommerce, the new advanced ERP features provide midsized businesses with a system as powerful as large enterprise systems, but with a much lower cost of ownership.

"If you compared us to a Great Plains or a MAS200, from a gross feature and function standpoint, we're equal, and that's a big statement to make. Those products have been around for 15 or 20 years," Nelson said. "But we go beyond those products because of our integration of all these processes. It's one product for sales, one product for inventory, one product for accounting. The problem in most companies is how to move data across the company, and in that we're years ahead of those products."

NetSuite makes it easier for companies to flexibly recognize revenue according to customer contracts and to maintain accounting control within GAAP and other reporting standards. NetSuite now gives users the ability to allocate costs by GL account, class, department or location. Users can choose to weight by dollar or percentage and can even set up a recurring allocation schedule within the system.

In response to the increasing number of its customers that trade overseas, NetSuite now supports multi-currency bank accounts and expense reporting capabilities; both capabilities being key to seamless international commerce and accurate financial management.

Business applications sold to midsize businesses rarely provide budgeting tools for the real-world financial planning complexities they face. NetSuite has enhanced its budgeting tools to address those needs with the addition of multiple budgets for tracking different scenarios, the ability to easily create new budgets from existing budgets or even from actual results and more customizable budget reports. And in order to provide maximum flexibility companies can now work on their budgets offline in a spreadsheet and import the results into NetSuite.

NetSuite's Advanced Billing capabilities automate billing schedules and commission payments so they are processed faster, more conveniently, and at a lower cost to the business. In addition, revenue forecasting of these scheduled payments is projected accurately rather than in one lump sum at the time of order placement.

Additional new features include lot tracking, advanced inventory commitment, inventory re-ordering, and special orders, with industry firsts such as matrix items, multi-location inventory, serialized inventory and seamless UPS integration, which extend NetSuite's leadership in the wholesaler and distributor markets.

Stay informed on other ERP vendors here.

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