How To Implement a Successful Business Intelligence Solution for NetSuite

By: Neil Stolovitsky

 

Within the many organizations adopting NetSuite as their core system, teams are relying heavily on their dashboards. They do so to effectively manage, track and respond to changes in business activities that drive their operations. The order-to-cash and procure-to-pay processes, which are centralized in their ERP system, affect multiple departments and stakeholders in the business. This requires a delicate balance to effectively serve customers, suppliers, partners and internal staff - all critical to meeting corporate objectives.

 

Why is this so important? Visibility across operations is necessary for leaders to make decisions and employ strategies that will impact the trajectory of their business. Unfortunately, pre-canned dashboards and limitations in native ERP reporting capabilities can only take you so far. In many cases, they make it difficult for businesses to find the “secret sauce” within their KPIs that help them meet financial goals.

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In light of this reality, businesses are forced to abandon their core ERP systems and cobble together their specific and strategic reports into spreadsheets and disconnected tools. These often lack structure, data integrity and are prone to errors. So, it’s not surprising for mature organizations using NetSuite ERP, to build their own business intelligence tools to address the reporting gaps.

The Elements Needed for a Successful BI Strategy
(and Not Just a Connector)

A comprehensive and successful business intelligence strategy means organizations will have to look beyond the specific items plaguing their reporting challenges. In fact, understanding the technical limitations and data structures of their overall system is necessary when evaluating the BI tools available in the marketplace.

ERP systems, and the enterprise systems they interact with, can present a complex web of data sources and analytics. These sources come with various limitations when mashing data for critical analytics that decision makers need. That said, enterprise data transformation requires a well planned BI system architecture, built to weave in a solution that will meet the unique industry and technical needs of a business.

The fact is, a complete BI system architecture needs to deliver the following to ensure adoption and effectiveness:

necessary integrations
data model
data warehouse
data visualization
ERP expertise, and
seamless user experience

An Example: NetSuite ERP and Business Intelligence

After years of development, NetSuite has built a pretty complex product; its data schema requires experience to effectively navigate and interpret its table structure, nomenclature and technical limitations. Understanding the relationship between tables, transactional records and entity records is critical in developing useful data models for reporting purposes.

As an ERP, NetSuite needs to have the necessary structure capturing a company’s financials as its primary system of record.

What is the result of all this? Unrestricted flexibility in customizing necessary financial statements is difficult to achieve (and rightfully so). For this very reason, business intelligence initiatives need to go beyond the available tools and connectors in the marketplace. They must incorporate a system architecture that includes data modeling expertise to deliver the reporting flexibility businesses crave.

How a Business Intelligence System for NetSuite Users Looks

What Are We Looking At?

The diagram above shows how it takes more than just a connector to reach ultimate data visualization capabilities:

 

GURUS BI Connector extracts the data, pushing it into Google BigQuery

 

BigQuery data warehouse now set up, high volumes of data can be accessed and optimized

 

Data visualization is now available

 

BI portlets are now available via he NetSuite Embed Dashboard

Everything You Need for a Successful BI Implementation

Many organizations will seek data connectors, such as Stitch, Celigo or Fivetran as quick solutions to getting to their ERP data. However, in most cases, these fail to deliver the critical data model necessary for an effective BI solution. They tend to deliver only a small piece of the “E” in the ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) process which needs to be a part of a larger BI architecture.

Similarly, many business users gravitate towards popular data visualization tools, such as Power BI or Tableau, to address their analytics challenges. Once again, these are also not designed to address the unique challenges posed by the data sources they attempt to access.

As organizations continue to seek improved analytics from their ERP and enterprise systems, they quickly realize that the biggest challenge lies with transforming the multiple data schemas that make up these data sources. In fact, most organizations that have never implemented BI don’t realize the effort involved in building out a usable data model designed for reporting. Understanding data schemas takes a deep understanding of the systems at hand that have their own unique quirks imprinted by many years of R&D.

As NetSuite experts we understand that a successful BI initiative needs to be treated as a project that combines the right BI technology, NetSuite data model and expertise. Like any ERP system, NetSuite reporting needs vary greatly and expertise is needed for best practices and what a business intelligence solution can do.

To learn more about how you can benefit from a comprehensive business intelligence solution tailored for NetSuite, contact GURUS Solutions today.

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About Neil Stolovitsky

Neil Stolovitsky has over 20 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in Pre-Sales, Business Development, Product Marketing, Software Selection, and Channel Strategies. He has published numerous blogs, white papers and articles covering Business Intelligence, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Professional Services Automation (PSA), Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Product Manager with GURUS Solutions.

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