NetSuite has unveiled the contents of its second major release of the year for its ERP solution. Details of the release are in a blog by Lisa Schwarz, Senior Director of Product Marketing. NetSuite 2020.2 includes both cross-industry, platform and vertical industry updates that increase the depth of functionality and maturity of the ERP solution. Seven key verticals see updates: Manufacturing, Wholesale Distribution, Software, Retail, Professional Services, Advertising, Media and Publishing and Nonprofit.
In a podcast accompanying the release, Schwarz noted: “We have 189 total features included in the release. Forty-five of those are customer-facing, net new enhancements or new capabilities that will benefit our users in their day to day jobs.”
Schwarz added that the rest of the features are within the platform and enable some of the new features now available to customers.
Finance and operations
Finance and Operations see automation improvements. The solution now supports the automatic creation and posting of transactions from imported bank data. Functionality also includes the automatic creation of inter-company cross charges to help period closure processes. Accountants can also offset mutual inter-company open balances and auto-generate inter-company netting settlements.
Finally, it is now possible to consolidate multiple invoices into a single invoice. AR clerks can match payments made against the group invoices against any of the individual invoices.
There are also improvements to employee engagement. On expenses, there is a new integration to American Express and more controls and notifications were added to expense reporting. NetSuite has also automated some of the controls and notifications on expense reports
For North American customers only there is a new SuitePeople Performance management module. It provides a central location for HR managers to review and manage goals for employees. Employees and managers can create goals that can track against performance metrics of the employee and the company. The information from these goals and performance are pulled into performance review information available to managers and employees.
Supply chain planning
The new materials requirements planning capability (MRP) has been re-written. Forming part of NetSuite Demand Planning it now includes a dedicated planning repository delivering more control to planners. The planning workbench provides an interface that enables planners to both execute tasks and highlight areas for further attention. The solution also includes the ability to create what-if scenarios to improve planning.
Intelligent Predicted Risks (IPR) introduced in 2020.1 includes the analysis of Sales orders. IPR will highlight a sales order that cannot be fulfilled, enabling planning to alter or create a new purchase order to ensure supply meets future demand.
There are improvements to internationalisation with support for more telephone number formatting including India, new tax types and more fields to support multiple translations for customer applications.
One of the more intriguing updates is to the Application Performance Manager (APM) performance health dashboards. These dashboards provide administrators with visibility of the status of their NetSuite environment. Where they have developed custom applications, they can identify if there are potential system resource bottlenecks so that developers can make changes to improve performance. If it highlights an issue, a user can drill down to identify which component is the likely cause of the issue. It is not clear in the NetSuite content what is actually net-new though.
Specific improvements to manufacturing include the ability to trigger quality inspections in different circumstances including advanced manufacturing production results and when different item fulfilment by shipping status is met. The Warehouse Management system supports the receipt, transfer and picking of goods from within a location without the requirement of a bin.
Updates to warehouse management and quality management are also applicable to Wholesale Distribution. There are improvements to B2B eCommerce with the new capability to manage and approve new wholesale customers to purchase from the eCommerce store. Also, the new Merchandise Hierarchy Workbook provides prebuilt but customisable reports and KPIs. It enables the analysis of items, inventory, sales and fulfilment data by category.
The software vertical sees some of the most impressive updates. MyAccount portal provides a way for customers of software vendors using NetSuite to view and modify their account details. It includes subscription information, order history, and it also gives them the ability to pay invoices. The SuiteAnalytics module for software companies also sees improvements with additional charts and analytics for recurring revenue, churn, up-sell, down-sell and others. These new graphs enable customers to analyse information for trends using a range of filters and data sources.
Modifications to subscriptions are now possible in life. It is now possible to modify billing parameters such as schedules and terms without having the recreate the subscription. This is only possible if the subscription is not yet activated.
Retailers benefit from improvements to the eCommerce solution. Website themes can take advantage of NetSuite updates in the future. Several new features are added with this release, including more layout flexibility, ADA/WCAG compliance, enhanced mobile user experience and multi-language support.
Improvements to Application Performance Manager enables administrators to view whether areas of their site are cumbersome or slow to respond to users. It could highlight where images are larger, or take longer than average to load, perhaps because an individual page has too many of them. Improvements to analytics include the new Merchandise Hierarchy Workbook and SuiteCommerce Behavioral Analytics which can help to leverage shippers behavioural data.
Professional Services and Advertising, Media and Publishing
The updates to these verticals are complementary to both. There are several improvement for Services firms. The first is to project accounting and enables the calculation of revenue budgets based on quantities and rates pulled from rate cards, items and billing classes. It helps create a more accurate budget figure.
It is now possible to save a work breakdown structure as a template for re-use. it speeds up the process for companies that manage repeatable projects such as software implementations or updates.
Project Managers can benefit from a set of automated notifications. It is now possible to set up notifications when time is missing in timesheets, or some approvals need completing. The solution also introduces recommended actions on how to resolve project issues.
A new prebuilt integration to the Oracle Content and Experience solution enables project teams to access a rich document repository solution. It provides a fully functional project information solution to complement NetSuite for professional services.
Specific updates to Nonprofits aims to meet the growing demands of funders and grantors as well as the evolving regulatory environment. Nonprofits can now create statements of financial position on a custom segment, for example, a fund, grant or program. Through a new automated process, nonprofits can auto-balance accounting entries by multiple dimensions (i.e., segments). They can create balancing segments by merely checking the balancing checkbox on the custom segment record.
To complement this, a nonprofit can allocate labour expense costs such as salaries and fringe benefits to programs, projects or grant segments.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
There is no headline improvement in this release from NetSuite. However, some significant ones need exploring in more detail. The platform improvements will please several ISVs and open up new opportunities. Below are three highlights.
- The SuitePeople Performance management is a major step forward for SuitePeople, though why it is only available in North America is odd. NetSuite was due to launch SuitePeople in 2018 in the UK, so why has it not made this a global release?
- The integration to Oracle Content and Experience is noteworthy. It allows many organisations to access a mature project information solution. This is a notable integration and one that NetSuite should leverage in the coming months.
- The recommended actions for project managers were not expanded on by NetSuite. Are these similar to the charms that Kimble Applications introduced several years ago? Or, is NetSuite leveraging AI to provide insights for project managers?
There is much here for customers to celebrate. The release will be generally available in September 2020. Having published what it intends to include NetSuite does not confirm that the above updates are in the next release.