NetSuite Sharpens Business Processes

Application service's data manipulation options make it a better fit at most sites.

The latest update to NetSuite Inc.s namesake service improves on one of the better financial and customer relationship management application services by making it easier for companies to manipulate data and better align the product to actual business processes.

NetSuite 9.0, which went live last month—along with the companys name change from NetLedger Inc. to NetSuite Inc.—is now a better fit for midsize organizations and departments

in large companies largely because of the improved level of customization.

In eWEEK Labs tests, we found the customization capabilities improve information access and ease data management. NetSuite includes a number of user interface improvements, but we found some UI elements confusing at times. Companies should also expect users to require some time to learn how to fully tap the products features.

NetSuite is priced at $4,800 per year for two users and $75 per user per year thereafter, an increase from $4,800 per year for three users and $50 per user per year thereafter with the previous version. NetSuite components—NetCRM, NetERP and Oracle Small Business Suite—can be purchased individually as well.

When weighed against a home-grown solution, NetSuite doesnt offer the flexibility made available by building from scratch, but it does provide more flexibility than has been available from application service providers. With NetSuite, users can see high-level information aggregated in a dashboard. We could modify what information we wanted to see and how we wanted it presented, such as by quarter, in the dashboard portlets.

NetSuite 9.0

NetSuites namesake application service gives companies that need an ERP system a convenient solution that provides a sophisticated level of customization for a hosted solution. The integration of the suites individual components is excellent, giving users access to critical data via a customizable dashboard. NetSuite starts at $4,800 for two users and $75 for each additional user per year. More information is available at
















  • PRO: High degree of customization; provides accounting to Web hosting for affordable price; better alignment with business processes
  • CON: Slow performance; fully empowering users will require considerable training; some UI quirks.

• iCodes Everest Advanced Edition 2.0 • Inc.s

Although this capability can be extremely powerful, it is a prime example of an area where users will need to spend time learning about the product to get the most out of it. When compared with an off-the-shelf small-business ERP (enterprise resource planning) system such as iCode Inc.s Everest Advanced Edition 2.0, NetSuite does a better job providing higher-level summaries of data and insulating users from the parts of the product they cant touch.

Some NetSuite 9.0 enhancements will make the service a viable solution right from the get-go for midsize companies. For example, NetSuite now supports matrix lists, so companies can more quickly design and publish product lists. Version 9.0 also supports list editing from the dashboard, which saved us the time and effort required to change a list in the table or form.

Numerous line-of-business features have also been added, including the ability to set up recurring billing, serialize inventory and tap into United Parcel Service of America Inc.s shipping API.

The suite reaches from accounting to Web storefront, a broad reach that means many organizations will want to integrate NetSuite with their existing applications. The primary way to integrate external data is via SMBXML, the small and medium business extensible markup language. This standard is relatively transparent, albeit not widely used. Companies can customize the application via JavaScript as well.

In tests, we found performance to be slow, especially on portlet-laden screens. Customers will generally share resources in NetSuites data center unless a given company exceeds data processing and bandwidth thresholds. At that point the company will be put on a dedicated system.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at