NetSuite’s second release of 2014 was rolled out from August and from October was available to all existing and new NetSuite clients. It includes much new functionality with some enhanced features in accounting, inventory management, production scheduling and project or job costing.
These functionality extensions are coupled with a lovely new user interface across all modules.
We highlight some of the features in the new release which we find particularly interesting.
New User Interface
The new interface is simpler and more intuitive as well as featuring a clean, modern look and feel.
The new UI includes bright colours and icons, a cleaner layout and larger fonts. These features are designed to make it easier to look at the screen and see what is important.
It incorporates easier navigation: the new header is anchored at the top of the page so that you always have access to global search and navigation, as well as Help. You can create records any time using the new menu in the header. The navigation menus support smaller screens by providing improved scrolling, and the label for the Home page has been replaced by an icon.
The information attracts your attention because the controls are hidden until you hover over the portlet. When you hover over a row in a portlet, the background changes to yellow as it does in list pages and sublists.
The new UI uses progressive disclosure. This means that the elements you see on a page are reduced to the most important content. When you move your pointer over areas of the page, the links, menus, and icons that are appropriate for that area appear. The reduced clutter also makes it easier to display NetSuite data on touch devices.
In addition dashboards have been made easier to personalise including portlets being be added or deleted and layouts changed by a simple click.
The pages that list transactions or records has been improved. All of the list controls have moved from the bottom of the list to the top including the filters, which are now in a collapsible area above the list.
The pages used for inputting or changing data records have been improved. The record title is larger and has colourful new icons, crosslinks are now at the upper right of the page and labels for fields now appear above the field. Also with progressive disclosure, the buttons for fields remain hidden until you move your pointer over the field.
Accounting enhancements include a new multi-book accounting feature to enable companies to record the same business event under different accounting treatment because of industry-specific rules, country-specific rules or both. Improvements in requisition and purchase contract processes, enhanced revenue recognition processes at financial close and improvements in the billing (including recurring billing) areas.
New Multi-Book Accounting
The globalisation of business continues to be driven by several factors, including the growing presence of multinational corporations, global capital markets, foreign direct investment and economic interdependence. At the same time, investors, bankers, shareholders, customers and other financial statements users exist all over the world, specifically in countries that have their own unique sets of accounting standards.
Whenever the same business event requires different accounting treatment because of industry-specific rules, country-specific rules or both, different reporting outcomes will occur. To report financial results within compliance based on multiple accounting standards concurrently, accounting departments can now leverage Multi-Book to comply with any standard.
Automated accounting rule-driven engine.
Multi-Book eliminates data entry replication and reduces the need for error-prone manual adjustments from processes due to managing multiple books per accounting standard. Using a powerful rule-driven engine, accounting departments can now create business transactions and automatically post the activity to all books efficiently in accordance with the appropriate accounting standard. With prebuilt mapping capabilities between your primary and secondary chart of accounts, Multi-Book can record all book-specific activity based on a single business transaction for the general ledger, revenue recognition, expense amortization, depreciation, P&L allocations and more.
Foreign currency management.
Multi-Book enables accounting departments to record transactions using book-specific functional currencies. Based on exchange rates stored in the system, Multi-Book can automatically calculate the general ledger impact for all books, including the realized and unrealized foreign currency gain/loss amounts per transaction.
Real-time financial reporting and analysis per book.
Leveraging an automated rule-driven engine, Multi-Book provides real-time visibility to see accurate “flash” financials for any book—standard financial reports, VAT/GST reports, saved searches and more. It allows organisations to run financial operations and manage multiple sets of financial books efficiently and issue financial statements in accordance with whichever accounting standards are required.
New Requisition and Purchase Contract for Spend Management
NetSuite Version 2014 Release 2 introduces powerful procurement features that will significantly improve end-to-end management of the materials and services acquisition, efficiently aligning buying needs across the company and helping organisations be more efficient and save money on an ongoing basis.
New purchase requisition, purchase contract and blanket purchase order capabilities are introduced that can improve procurement ROI.
A new purchase requisition enables employees to submit one requisition for all the items and services they need, regardless of how many vendors may be involved. They do not even need to know which vendor(s) the items and services will be purchased from. To expedite approvals, a new SuiteApp with intelligent workflow will notify the approver (e.g., next level manager, finance department, etc.) of a pending request and automatically route the requisition up the hierarchy for approval. Lastly, the procurement team will have the flexibility to consolidate multiple requisitions into a single purchase order to reduce the total number of POs processed and consolidate purchasing volumes.
Purchase Contract & Blanket PO.
Once a vendor has been qualified and selected for a particular buying need, the new process enables organisations to take advantage of quantity-based terms and discounts that apply to a company’s annual volume of goods or services with the new purchase contract and blanket purchase order capabilities. Using a new purchase contract feature, sourcing managers and buyers can enter negotiated terms, tiered pricing and other discounts for purchases with a specific vendor over a predefined period. As a result, future purchase orders placed for items with this vendor will automatically include the contracted terms without wasting the time and effort finding good vendors and negotiating terms over and over again. The blanket purchase order allows companies to purchase in large volumes and spread the delivery of the items or expenses over a time horizon using pre-specified schedules.
New 3-Way Matching for Better AP Reconciliation
To optimize the financial close process, a new 3-way invoice matching is introduced. When a vendor bill is created, the system will automatically match the invoice information to the corresponding purchase order and item receipt, and identify any discrepancies. Using workflow, bills with discrepancies can carry a pending status and require manager approval for payment processing. Accounts payable departments can now release payments more accurately and also reconcile their balances much more quickly on a regular basis rather than wait until the end of the month to investigate differences between records.
Enhanced Revenue Recognition for Improving the Financial Close Process
New revenue recognition functionality to improve the financial close process is designed to strengthen relationships with auditors and reduce delays and manual work.
New Deferred Revenue Roll forward Report
. Successful audit preparation and planning are essential to maintain a good rapport with the auditors and set the tone for a collaborative relationship. Revenue accounting continues to receive significant scrutiny from auditors, who in many cases ask for specific documentation regarding internal controls that exist in the close process, as well as detailed support for sales transactions and their projected revenue streams. With NetSuite Version 2014 Release 2, accountants will be able to provide auditors with a deferred revenue roll forward report, out of the box, which will present the flow of deferred revenue between beginning and ending balances. Faced with higher audit standards and complex reporting requirements for managing revenue recognition, accountants will be able to continue building strong relationships with auditors while needing less time to prepare, create and provide audit support documentation.
Improved journal entry exception handling and posting.
One of the biggest culprits stifling your financial close process is the time and effort spent investigating errors and exceptions, especially under tight deadlines. NetSuite Version 2014 Release 2 introduces new features that will streamline revenue recognition journal entry postings. Whenever facing potential exceptions (e.g., uncertain invoice collectability), accountants will have the option to temporarily postpone revenue recognition journal entries by flagging a line item on a transaction until an investigation is completed. Afterwards, accountants can remove the pause and proceed with the postings. As a result, accountants no longer have to spend unnecessary time creating manual journal entries or editing sales orders to adjust for revenue recognition postings that are still being investigated. Simply post the entry when it’s time to post the entry.
This new feature can summarize revenue recognition schedules by the following attributes for journal entry postings:
• Accounting book
• Posting period
• Class / Department / Location
It is particularly useful to accountants who have to post large volumes of revenue transactions that don’t require detailed reporting and would otherwise require a lot processing time to post individually. With new summarized journal entries, the line item detail is still available on demand, which will significantly shorten the amount of time needed to post revenue recognition activity and generate financial reports.
Statistical Account Support for Absolute Balances
Managing non-monetary information is much easier to do using statistical accounts. With NetSuite Version 2014 Release 2, financial accountants will be able to update statistical accounts by simply entering the new absolute value, instead of the incremental change value from the prior balance, into the journal.
This feature is particularly useful when updating non-financial information that is sourced from an external system and only provides ending balances. For example, the next time the latest headcount totals or square footage information are available, accountants can enter these values directly into the journal and no longer have to manually calculate the delta first from the previous balance to derive the updated ending balance—a tedious and time-consuming exercise.
As a result, dynamic allocations, financial ratios and other metrics using a statistical account will be automatically updated with much less manual effort and better accuracy.
New Applying of Billing Schedules to Subtotals
This feature is designed to help companies manage their ongoing cash flow and maintain strong customer relationships. The new billing schedule capabilities enable the creation of fixed instalment amounts at a subtotal level. Billing schedules can be created to assign fixed amounts of the subtotal to be invoiced at specified time intervals. This new functionality is available in addition to previous capabilities that can create billing schedules that apply percentage allocations at the line level to define the instalment amounts.
As a result, custom billing schedules can be created quickly and easily using a variety of calculation methods that will automatically produce invoices with convenient, rounded instalment amounts that are easy for customers to understand and aligned with their working capital requirements.
New Invoice Approval Workflow
As businesses grow, it becomes increasingly important to have a clear separation of duties and a separate review process for financial business operations like billing. With NetSuite Version 2014 Release 2, a new invoice approval workflow is introduced to help ensure that invoices are always reviewed for accuracy before final approval. Unapproved invoice can even be sent to customers as pro forma invoices for their review.
New Billing Operations
The new Billing Operations streamlines the viewing and approval of invoices in large volumes. To better manage the process, billing managers can create billing groups of customers that share common dispatch requirements (e.g. all credit card customers, by service, saved search criteria, etc.) and schedule unified bill runs for each of these billing groups.
Recurring Billing Usability Improvements
New enhancements have been introduced to improve usability of managing subscription-based business.
Better up-sell and cross-sell efficiency with improved sales orders.
Users can now sell additional product items and subscriptions using the same sales order, and calculate charges (i.e., support, maintenance) based on a percentage of an item price plan. As a result, billing managers can generate invoices automatically from a single sales order without having to manually combine information across multiple orders. Also, accountants will have cleaner sales records to help demonstrate audit compliance with revenue recognition requirements.
Better customer change order management.
To keep pace with complex customer needs, users can now perform subscription change orders to extend plan termination dates or use new backdating capabilities up to the last bill date with a few simple clicks without having to re-enter information that had previously existed. Start dates of anniversary subscriptions can also be modified.
Improved subscription and rate plan management.
Users will have a much easier time tailoring the right subscription for their customers. Enter custom term dates into subscriptions, use a simple drop-down menu to select from one of three improved rating models and edit unused subscription and rate plans to help manage the product catalogue from growing uncontrollably.
Improved Shipping at Cut-off Periods
At month-end, warehouse managers are increasingly facing delivery deadlines for orders created in the current accounting period but required to be fulfilled in a future accounting period. To better manage these cut-off situations during the financial close process, smarter shipping functionality is now available. Item fulfilment can be picked and packed in one period and shipped in another period. As a result, accounting departments can start the financial close process sooner without having to wait for shipments to be completed after cut-off, which can cause unnecessary delays in reporting your financials.
Better Inventory Management with Distribution Resource Planning
New capabilities are introduced to make it easier to transfer stock across retail, distribution and production locations throughout the supply chain. A new distribution resource planning enables category planners to create distribution networks that can trade specific items with each other in response to sudden changes in demand.
For example, a company that produces in Asia can set up a network of subsidiaries in that region that have a common list of goods that are manufactured, distributed or sold. The system will then provide a list of sourcing recommendations for transferring inventory across locations within the network, which is often less expensive than purchasing and shipping additional goods from suppliers to meet customer delivery deadlines. Whether supporting an omni-channel strategy or running a vertically-integrated business more efficiently, new distribution resource planning enables businesses to make better inventory management decisions quickly and confidently and optimize supply chain.
New Average Costing Method for Serialized and Lot Controlled Items
Identical items are often purchased for inventory at different costs throughout the year. Whenever these items are sold, it’s difficult to determine exactly which items were sold and which items are still in inventory. A new average costing method accounts for inventory items carrying assigned serial or lot numbers.
Under the average costing method, the cost of goods available for sale is the total inventory on-hand at the beginning of the period plus all purchases during the period. The total cost of goods available for sale divided by total quantity will then provide the average unit cost as of the end of the period. Average cost is then updated each time items are received into inventory.
New Daily Shipping Detail Report for Better Warehouse Management
This new end-of-day shipping report can be generated quickly on a daily basis to show a summary of all the packages picked up by a driver at any given location. These reports will display all items released from the warehouse on a daily basis as well as satisfy end-of-day processing requirements from couriers requesting printed copies.
New Backward Scheduling to Optimize Work Order Completion
To manage increasing demands meeting customer delivery date deadlines, work order scheduling has been improved with the new backward scheduling feature. Production planners can now schedule work orders to be processed based on order due dates, and have the system automatically calculate the date and time at which production must start based on available resources.
As a result, production planners no longer have to spend time manually deriving production starting times, an error-prone exercise that is both time-consuming and wasteful of resources. Also, production managers will have an easier time scheduling start times to have a window for handling unexpected order changes or cancellations.
Overlapping Work Order Operations
The new overlapping work order operation capabilities ensures that work order lead time is kept at a minimum by improving manufacturing resource capacity utilization. Multiple work orders can now be staggered and processed, rather than one at a time, throughout the production cycle.
For example, if a manufacturing routing has two required steps to complete a work order, a planning operator can define and schedule how the second operation can overlap with the first operation by simply entering the lag amount based on time, quantity or percentage into the manufacturing routing. The second operation will automatically commence once the defined portion of the first operation is completed. Also, this feature includes an auto-calculate option that computes the shortest possible lead time for each operation in the work order. As a result, planning operators no longer have to derive lag time manually, which is both time-consuming and error-prone. No more waiting is required for a specific step in a routing to be fully completed to start the ensuing operation.
Drag-and-Drop Production Scheduling
This new capability allows rescheduling jobs within a production timetable using a simple drag-and-drop motion. Using a new manufacturing task manager, production planners have a real-time calendar view of all work orders scheduled for production and their respective work status. If a work centre were to have work orders scheduled in excess of capacity, a simple drag-and-drop motion can reassign tasks to a different time slot or a different work centre that has downtime.
As a result, production planners will have the agility to keep pace with change and optimize output from all work centre resources.
Project and Job Costing
Job Costing Enhancements
Two new job costing features provide greater flexibility and efficiency in project management and accounting.
Intercompany job costing.
It is important for organisations with workforce that are distributed across different subsidiaries to be able to harness the skills and capabilities of everyone in the organisation. Also as companies grow, subsidiaries often function like independent business units and managers of these business units are evaluated on how effectively they use the assets entrusted to them. NetSuite Version 2014 Release 2 introduces the ability optimise resource utilisation by identifying and assigning resources from one subsidiary to another where the resource is needed, and account for cross-charging of costs with intercompany subsidiaries.
The Intercompany Job Costing feature is based on Intercompany Journal Entries. The functionality allows automatic transfer of the associated cost of a resource from one subsidiary to another via the posting time function. As an example, when time is tracked by a resource on a project from another subsidiary, the time is posted in the resource’s subsidiary and with closing of accounting period, Intercompany Adjustment is processed enabling costs captured with posting time function within resource lending subsidiary to be transferred to the resource receiving subsidiary.
Job costing options.
This feature simplifies the creation of journal entries by providing the ability to group different time entries in a journal for more effective management. Options include classifications, project, employee and more. This reduces the number of journal entries created when using the job costing functionality making for easier management and optimising the auditing process.
Improved Expense Billing for Projects
New capabilities allow expenses from expense reports and vendor bills to be charged at cost, or with mark-ups or discounts. For example, an independent contractor or project manager for a professional services firm can now browse, filter and select expense lines from various bills (e.g., meals, cell phone, etc.), apply a rule-based mark-up or discount (if any) and automatically create a charge that will be billed to the customer.