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Another successful year

As we start into our fourth full year as a NetSuite Solution Provider we reflect upon another successful year. We have helped four companies go live with NetSuite, added six new clients for whom we have delivered a range of services as well as adding to our number of NetSuite connector for google apps clients.

Financially the business has nearly doubled in terms of turnover and increased profitability. Keystone Data has employed two new members of staff and extended our relationships with third parties to deliver the increased services.

2017 should be an interesting year as Oracle Corporation start to absorb NetSuite. We are very excited to see how 2017 pans out and wish all our clients and associates a successful New Year.

CAT6

What functionality enhancements are expected in NetSuite ERP release 2016.2?

NetSuite Release 2016.2 will be rolled out over the next few months. NetSuite have published plans which include the areas listed below. It is recognised that some features may not be available in the 2016.2 release timeframe.

Accounting

  • Change to Merging Accounts Quick Close Accounting Period
  • Statutory Chart of Accounts
  • Cumulative Translation Adjustment (CTA) Balance Audit Report
  • Enhancements in Advanced Revenue Management
  • Journal Entry Approval Workflow
  • Legal Name in Chart of Accounts
  • Change to Accounting Periods Feature in Accounts That Are Not OneWorld
  • Allocation Schedule Enhancement
  • Fixed Assets Management Enhancements

Employee Management

  • Management
  • Weekly Timesheets
  • Time Tracking Enhancements
  • Time Approval Enhancements

Items and Inventory Management

  • Commit Orders Scheduling
  • Replenish Location by Transfer Order
  • Withdraw by Transfer Order
  • Phantom BOM
  • Transfer Order Enhancements
  • Item Ordering Enhancements
  • In-Process Work Order and Assembly Build Editing
  • Matrix Items Name Template

Order Management

  • Fulfilment Requests
  • Location Record Enhancements
  • New Advanced Order Management Setup Page
  • New Fulfilment Workload Distribution Rule
  • Rerun Automatic Location Assignment
  • Void Payment Authorizations
  • Changes to How Charges Are Added to Some Transactions
  • Customer Hierarchy Size Limit
  • Support for FedEx Services
  • Support for ZPL Label Printing Format
  • Preview Payment Processing Profiles for Websites and Subsidiaries
  • Updated Payment-Processing Field Labels
  • Contract Renewals Enhancements
  • Automatic Chargeback Workflow Processing
  • Electronic Payments Enhancements
  • Grid Order Management Enhancements

Projects

  • Project Billing Rate Cards
  • Project Revenue Recognition
  • Project Template Enhancements
Avatu & RCB

Two new clients

During the last couple of months we have won two new NetSuite accounts: Avatu http://www.avatu.co.uk/ and RCB Cleaning Solutions http://www.rcbuk.com/.
Avatu specialise in providing advice, technology and tools to fight cyber and insider threats to IT systems. They are based in Princess Risborough in Buckinghamshire and we are helping them implement a full NetSuite business management system.
RCB Cleaning Solutions is an established professional cleaning company. They are based in Newcastle under Lyme in Staffordshire and have chosen NetSuite as their new CRM solution.

Keystone Data - Email Case Management Process w. Decisions & Pending

Defining your Customer Case Management and Support Process

As a software implementation and development company, we provide high level support to a wide range of companies. Along the way we have refined our process to meet our customer’s and our own needs. Practically speaking, it’s important your Support system provides the best Customer Service for your customers and the upmost visibility for your company too. A truly formalised process is the best way to create a structure that ensures a case is cared for throughout its lifecycle.

After implementing Support processes for ourselves and our customers, we thought it best to share some of the aspects we think many businesses should strive for.

Some Best Practices

Effective Logging

The best way to set the ship sailing in the wrong direction is by ineffectively or barely logging customer issues. The bare necessities should be a Contact, Problem Description, Unique Case Number and the Date and Time it was received. “Obviously” I hear you say, but without a formalised Case Capture form it can be very easy to simply trust yourself to remember. The ITIL model for Service Management suggests this is the role for a Service Desk. A single point of entry to ensure communication is streamlined and the case recipient’s first priority is to effectively log and manage the problem.

Could the first contact Support User take charge of the Case to manage it to completion? This can sometimes be a good way to ensure the case is chased once escalated.

Of course this doesn’t have to be a manual process, on systems like NetSuite, Cases or Tickets can be captured from customised Online Forms. This has always been a great way for grooming customer’s queries, with mandatory fields like “Nature of Enquiry” acting as a filter to route Cases in your Support System. If Cases can be classified before they are added to a Case list, the Case list is infinitely more manageable.

 

 

We also believe a Support system should share the same database as your Customer Records, not only to link Cases to Customers, but to provide your Support Agents with the information they need to provide comprehensive support. But even more than that, in a system like NetSuite, a Customer’s Service Level Agreement could automatically set a Case’s Priority or Due Date.

Responding

First of all, we would suggest the first response is a confirmation of query receipt. For emails this is a simple automated email, but phone queries are often neglected. We’d suggest logging all phone calls as queries, however appreciate this isn’t always logical or practical. However if the query requires more investigation or cannot be handled with a first contact resolution, an email detailing the conversation is a great way to leave an open line of communication with the customer and record the query for memory on your side too.

Secondly, we’d suggest growing your Knowledge Base by encouraging your Support Agents and Technical Staff to constantly contribute to it. In a basic sense, Knowledge Bases can often offer standard responses, but could also be extended memos so that the exhaustive research that went into a great response doesn’t disappear into the realms of Closed Cases. Arranged into topics, you can give your Support Team their own, industry-specific Encyclopaedia if done properly. (There is always a chance this could be shared with your customers too!)

Could the first contact Support User take charge of the Case to manage it to completion? This can sometimes be a good way to ensure the case is chased once escalated.

Are you ready to close the Case? If yes, it’s worth updating the customer of this status change too. More than anything, this communication ensures avoiding any skeletons in the closet appearing when a customer expected a response that never came. Generally speaking, it’s difficult to ever over-communicate but much easier to under-communicate!

Time Tracking

Not just for your benefit, Time Tracking can be a great help for the customer when managing their Service Level Agreement. The logic behind Time Tracking if you charge for Support Time is simple, but it’s also a great way to view where time is being exhausted. Seeing how much is spent on individual customers can be an enlightening experience, for example.

Reporting

As a smaller enterprise it can often be difficult to see how you’re doing when it comes to Support. A huge part of this reporting is using a system that uses assessable processes and has visual reporting capabilities. Thanks to NetSuite, we are able to access a huge range of visual reports such as: Service Response Times, Cases by Customer, Resolutions by Employee and many more.

Analytics shouldn’t just be reserved for the Sales side of things though. Does a persistent Customer need a more appropriate SLA? Do the Support Team need more training on a particular Product Group with questions slowing down response times? It’s often easy to think of Support as an open and closed activity, but often a lot can be taken from delving into the detail.

In Practice | Email Case Management

Case Management is often a difficult process to map out, with Case requirements varying vastly and Support being delivered by employees who have other primary functions. These difficulties apply to Keystone Data too, and in response we all try to work to a Support process that is time-efficient, promotes visibility and comprehensive for the customer.

The diagram below details out a general, simple Email Case process that we would frequently implement for our customers. Defining your own process is a great start for implementing a SaaS, but also for helping analyse and improve the process itself. In this example we are able to show a first contact response (in white), an escalated response (in grey) and how a Case can be reopened by a customer and start the cycle again.

Keystone Data’s Email Case Management Process | Manual process are defined with a solid grey line and automated processes with a dotted teal line. NetSuite processes are defined in Navy, standard Support steps in Teal, 1st contact responses in White and escalated steps in Grey.

Keystone Data are a NetSuite implementation specialist, for more information on Case Management or implementing Support for your company please get in touch.

Employee of the month

Employee of the Month

It’s 2016 and Keystone Data are doing better than ever. And a big part of that is down to the work done by our fantastic team.

But putting the “I” in team, we’d like to recognise the hard work of our very own Employee of the Month.

Our winner, Paul, wins it this month due to not just being the man keeping the office ticking over, but in the help he supplied to our customer Bladez Toyz in producing a repository to store Product Test Reports. More complicated than it sounds!

It wasn’t just ourselves that were impressed by his happy-to-help attitude, Bladez Toyz sent Paul a brand new inflatable BB-8 to say thank you!

Asked how he felt about winning the prestigious award, he replied humbly : “Thanks!”

 

Easy Comps - Web Present

Building a NetSuite Ecommerce Website with Keystone Data

Keystone Data produce high-performance, Ecommerce websites that integrate with a NetSuite system to provide an Ecommerce Platform without compromise. As an extension of Site Builder, Keystone Data can provide a complete, omnichannel experience that promotes directly accounting for online systems in one unified system. We believe Ecommerce should be seamless, and it’s time to support your customer’s interaction with NetSuite’s Order Management, Sales, Accounting and CRM capabilities.

Our design process and development experience allow us to offer clients advanced and bespoke website front-ends that are designed to be fit for purpose from the get go.

While our process is forever evolving, we utilise the following proven formula for supplying beautiful, high-performance websites:

Step 1 – The Creative Brief

The Creative Brief could be defined by either our experienced designer at Keystone Data, or supplied by our client with the consultation of their own designer. This stage is about getting to know your company, its personality and how you’d like to convey that through the website. Added to that, we like to explore elements of other websites that you may wish to incorporate or any must have features.

The Creative Brief may include:

  • The logos and branding concepts for the project.
  • Examples of websites to specify features for the website.
  • Examples of design elements or websites with a look or feel the client wishes to incorporate into the website.
  • Notes relating to the target market/demographic for the website

Step 2 – Website Design and Specification

At Keystone Data we like to make sure we are making the best possible website for our client, and a big part of that is working cohesively with the client to produce extensive designs and detailed specifications. We believe that in drawing up great plans, the customer can start to visualise what can be achieved and explore the functionality to aim for proactively, rather than in hindsight.

Design

The Website Design stage utilises the design parameters established in the Creative Brief to create a rich mock-up of each key page within the website.

The outcome of this phase is the creation of a Photoshop Design for each key page within the website. Images are often the easiest way to convey ideas and the client can evaluate at an early stage the websites potential appearance.

The Designs will form a key part of the documentation, which can be referred to as a specification of website features, as well as the look and feel.

During this stage Keystone Data present ideas to the client, collaborate on any potential changes and ensure the designs are signed off ready for development.

Specification

At Keystone Data, we ensure the Specification is thorough and accessible for the client to make sure the build is developed to exacting standards. In the specification stage we annotate the website designs to explore how the website will function.

The specification will be provided as a rich document detailing how the underlying NetSuite products, categories and website content will be displayed on the website and edited in NetSuite.

Step 3 – Website Development

The Website Development stage involves Keystone Data using modern technologies to build the website itself. Using our own bespoke Ecommerce platform, we are able to ensure that the website is built with NetSuite in mind; offering a platform that far exceeds the possibilities available when integrating with an external Ecommerce system.

Step 4 – Initial Website testing

During this phase Keystone Data will set up example products within NetSuite’s Inventory and website content, so as the website closely matches the initial designs. This allows us to mimic the functionality defined in the specification and test the processes in preparation for our clients to begin managing the backend.

At this stage we like to present the functionality of the website to our client and ensure the build is surpassing expectations.

Step 5 – Website Refinement and Population of Data

Within the Website Refinement stage, the client will begin to populate the website with their own data and complete the website testing under tutelage from Keystone Data. We have produced extensive guides and documentation that adds to NetSuite’s own support to ensure the system is accessible and manageable.

With an open line of communication, our clients can feedback to us on any issues or discuss any future developments.

Step 6 – Website Go Live Pre-Testing

Going live with a web store can be a daunting undertaking. At Keystone Data, we test the build at every stage to promote reliability but prepare the client for Go Live with a Test Plan prepared for all eventualities.

Testing isn’t just limited to the frontend however, with the full order system tested in NetSuite too.

Keystone Data work to provide the best possible solutions for all our clients, and so while this process gives an insight into what you could expect when building a website with us, our exhaustive approach to NetSuite means that may just be the start.

The process above focuses on the front-end implementation of an Ecommerce website with an existing NetSuite system, however at Keystone Data we specialise in NetSuite implementations that coincide with delivery of an Ecommerce platform too. For more information, please don’t hesitate in contacting Keystone Data today.

 

monte-blanc-icon-netsuite

Preview: SuiteCommerce Advanced Monte Blanc Release

NetSuite is looking to hit new heights with development of Monte Blanc, their upcoming release of SuiteCommerce. With a targeted release of early Q1, NetSuite is looking to up user experience and deliver greater operational efficiencies. New features are expected to include: improved support for SuiteCommerce InStore (NetSuite’s Sales Associate Interface to support Omnichannel Retail), enhanced B2B capabilities, detailed performance analysis, and increased marketing functionality.

Here are our highlights from the mountain of new features:

 

New Payment Options

SuitePayments will be offering some more modern alternatives to debit and credit cards in the fairly immediate future. With different methods growing in popularity, NetSuite is looking to respond with the ability to set up support for: e-wallets, mobile wallets, direct debits, vouchers and real-time bank transfers.

Multi-Channel “My Account” Experience

NetSuite wants to be the true unified, multi-channel solution; and so Monte Blanc will look to supply a “My Account” experience that delivers peerless visibility. A customer will have the ability to see online, in-store or employee-added purchases, along with information pertinent to each individual channel sale.

Store Locator

It’s hard for a retailer to forego the ability to help their customers find them. Luckily it looks like the ability to guide people to your retail is on the horizon. As is to be expected, the Store Locator will provide the standard search functionality on postcode or address.

Google Tags made simpler

The new Google Tag Manager will make implementation of dynamic tags for marketing and analytics much easier than the current hardcoded ones. Especially when combined with out-of-the-box support for Google AdWords, Google Universal Analytics, Bing Ads and Optimizely.

Diagnosing bottlenecks

Maybe a little later than Q1, but in the near term, it will be possible to speed up your website’s performance with the Application Performance Sensor (APM). The APM will add a tool to the dashboard that can help the user to pinpoint the root causes of performance issues ready to be addressed.

All these features, coupled with shareable wishlists, product comparisons and password protected sites and pricing, should help define SuiteCommerce Advanced as a truly modern platform.

Further information can be found on the NetSuite Website or if you want to talk through your Ecommerce options don’t hesitate in contacting Keystone Data today.

netsuite-accounting-3

Vertical market sub-listing

One of our clients wanted to be able to record vertical markets in a hierarchy. For example Retail with sub lists of hardware shops, supermarkets, specialist shops etc

The vertical market field provided as standard in Netsuite does not directly support this and we considered the option of a coding system to provide it.

For example:
20 any retail
21 hardware shops
22 supermarkets
23 specialist shops

But we thought this could get rather cumbersome and would require a lot of consideration to ensure the coding system supported the sort of vertical markets likely to be wanted.

Another option considered was to implement a bespoke solution with a custom field but we always prefer to avoid bespoke or customisation when possible,

We then realised that the free official bundle ‘enhanced sales center’ includes a field ‘industry’ and that this supports sub listing.

The further advantage of using this field is that the ‘vertical market’ field can now be used for other important characteristic about customers that is not recorded in any other standard field.

vertical markets sub-list

Complexity of Ecommerce in relation to Magento, Shopify & NetSuite SuiteCommerce

NetSuite Ecommerce – Magento, Shopify or SuiteCommerce – Choosing the best option.

In this post I provide an overview of some of factors users of NetSuite should consider when choosing an Ecommerce Platform.

 

Whilst at Keystone Data and in a previous company I have built a great many NetSuite integrated websites.  As a general rule, for simpler sites, integration with Best of Breed is a good idea, however as sites get more complex the cost of integration can outweigh some of the benefits the best of breed platforms offer.

 

Before discussing which platform you should choose, I have clarified a few often misunderstood terms relating to SuiteCommerce, SiteBuilder and SuiteCommerce Advanced (often referred to as SCA)

 

What is NetSuite SuiteCommerce?  

NetSuite SuiteCommerce is NetSuites native ecommerce platform.  One way to think of this is a way of opening up your internal ERP system and allowing customer to interact directly with it.

Doing this has significant advantages over integrating with an external platform as your customers can be provided with live data directly from your internal system and are effectively accessing the same system as your internal staff via a customer facing website.

SuiteCommerce offers two distinct products, SuiteCommerce SiteBuilder and SuiteCommerce Advanced.

 

What is SiteBuilder?

SiteBuilder is NetSuites legacy ecommerce platform offering a well road tested but rather simplistic ecommerce front end with limited customisation ability.

What is SuiteCommerce Advanced?

SuiteCommerce Advanced is a more flexible, higher end product offering full flexibility and higher performance.

 

Best of Breed vs SuiteCommerce

NetSuite SuiteCommerce platform offers an extensive set of capabilities for building Ecommerce Websites.  However, building out Ecommerce functionality directly on NetSuite using SuiteCommerce can be more expensive that building using a best in class platform such as Magento or Shopify.

You might therefore conclude that best in class is the way to go, however if you have experience integrating ecommerce sites with ERP or you have read our article “How to Integrate Ecommerce Sites with NetSuite” you might have noted that although it can be cheaper to build on a best in class platform, the integration costs can outway the savings made by doing this.

Although this is true, for very simple ecommerce websites integration can be fairly straightforward and therefore best of breed is more suitable than SuiteCommerce.

A list of features which make ecommerce sites more complex and more difficult to integrate with an ERP system include:

  1. Complex or quantity driven pricing –  the methods used to configure these pricing structures will often differ between the ERP system and Ecommerce Platform.  Therefore integrating this can be very tricky.
  2. Offers, promotions and coupon codes – In addition to differing methods of configuring these elements, these can be represented differently on orders / invoices.  This can introduce considerable challenges when integrating
  3. Multi Language, multi currency, and multiple geographical zones targeted – These elements can introduce a whole range of issues when integrating, from issues with currency exchange rates, issues with lack of centralisation of multilingual product data.
  4. Complex delivery options – these very quickly become next to impossible to integrate due to differences in the way these are set up.
  5. Customer based pricing – this area will almost certainly differ between Ecommerce System and NetSuite, if the business has a large number of customers this area can prove very time consuming and challenging to integrate.
  6. Integrated support systems
  7. Fully integrated returns processes
  8. Live orders required for customer orders not placed online – this would require a 2 way integration.
  9. Online statement downloads – As Accounts Receivable procedures are not operated in the Ecommmce platform this must be provided by the ERP System.

However, in addition to the features I outline in this document, other factors will play into the decision on platform such as:

  • Budget – If a business generates a large volume of business online and has a considerable budget, an additional spend required to implement SuiteCommerce Advanced will not be significant when compared to the advantages to be gained from a fully integrated ecommerce front end.
  • Technical Skills of In house staff – The customer might have an existing Ecommerce site or technical skills developing an another ecommerce technology.