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If there’s one word that defines the path ahead for NetSuite’s business, it’s “automation.” The company, which is hosting its annual SuiteWorld conference in Las Vegas this week, is announcing a number of enhancements and new products that it believes will save plenty of time for both workers on the front line and the managers who deploy them.
“NetSuite has been spending 20-plus years trying to help fast-growing businesses operate more efficiently and effectively, and this year is no different,” said Evan Goldberg, the founder of NetSuite and executive vice president of Oracle, which now owns NetSuite.
“It’s a weird and wacky world out there right now, with issues with the supply chain, labor shortages, and inflation. The last thing anyone wants is to be mired in manual processes. They got bigger fish to fry.”
NetSuite workflow solutions are quietly effective
NetSuite has built a business around helping companies manage their internal workflow. The company offers customized versions of their stack that focus on some of the specific challenges that many industries face. Their tools can be found managing warehouses, campus stores, restaurants and at least two dozen other specific industries. Each finds a system for automating many of the tasks specific to their environment.
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These kinds of web-based productivity solutions have been receiving more attention lately because they can be incredibly valuable when they deliver customized automation. Adobe’s recent purchase of Figma for approximately $20 billion in a combination of cash and stock make it apparent that even the niche for helping web users edit images can be valuable.
While many of the back office processes supported by NetSuite are rarely noticed, they illustrate how the right combination of software and workflow management might be surprisingly valuable.
CPQ: Automated sales path to avoid surprises
One of the announcements this week is targeting a niche that many might not notice. The product, NetSuite CPQ, helps sales teams create “configure, price and quote (CPQ)” work. The system will create a guided sales path that helps sales teams work with customers and answer all questions before a contract is finalized. It juggles SKUs and configurations before producing a binding proposal that avoids surprises for both the customers and the teams that must deliver on what the sales team has promised.
“Typically a lot of customers handle that manually,” said Goldberg. “The sales person puts together a quote and the customer approves it. Then it goes to the factory and they’re like, ‘Oh no, we can’t build that.’”
NetSuite’s CPQ will enforce a large collection of rules to ensure that the configurations are all possible. At the same time, it will automate much of the production of the quote to simplify the work of the sales team so they can spend more time with the customers.
“With NetSuite CPQ, we see how our community of companies can better serve customers while also providing a great experience for team members,” explained Rick Bauerly, founder and CEO of Granite Partners, one of the partners that helped test the product during development. “It allows us to connect our front-end processes to product manufacturing and service fulfillment all the way through to the back end. Ultimately, it increases velocity, profitability and value creation for all stakeholders.”
Another new product called SuitePeople Workforce Management will help businesses hire, schedule and pay their employees. It’s like a time clock, but with the intelligence to handle many scheduling and compliance chores. Managers can rely on it to avoid many of the basic problems that complicate drawing up the weekly or monthly work schedule. When the work is done, the more precise tracking ensures that everyone is paid accurately and on time.
“With SuitePeople Workforce Management, scheduling shifts and tracking employees’ time is more efficient than ever,” explained Kristi Miller, product and platform director of Urban Legacy. “I make all approvals directly in NetSuite and create a payroll batch with one click. This helps put Urban Legacy in a position to plan intelligently and change operations quickly.”
At the product’s core is a scheduling-rule engine that aggregates requests from employees, forecasts from managers and any compliance rules that may apply. Both employees and managers can track their work schedules through mobile apps and dashboards. After the work is done, the dashboards track expenses and utilization, helping everyone make more data-driven decisions about costs.
“In a tight labor market, organizations need to elevate the management of their workforce to be competitive,” said Goldberg. “With SuitePeople Workforce Management, organizations can quickly adjust staffing to align with changing business conditions.”
A glimpse into the future
In the coming years, Goldberg says that NetSuite wants to stick to five major themes that all involve automating the workflow for their customers. First, they want to boost productivity, largely by automating the common tasks. Second, they want to increase visibility so that everyone on the team can do a better job of understanding how the work is progressing.
Third, they want to improve agility to ensure that all of their customers can customize the workflow and make any changes to fit their immediate needs. Fourth, provide wider, deeper and better insight into business processes so that the software collects better data that’s more useful. Finally, improve collaboration because that can get lost as companies grow.
“Employees expect to come in and be using systems that are as agile and approachable as the things that they’re using at home,“ explained Goldberg. “That’s really what we’re going to be investing in so it’s easier to adopt and easier to learn.”
The SuiteWorld conference runs from September 27 to 30. Many of the sessions are also being broadcast online. A discounted pass to the entire program is available for $50, with a free pass available to view the highlights for those exploring adopting the platform.
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