Life Sciences Industry Panel Series: Part 4 – NetSuite Customization for Individual Needs

The coronavirus pandemic has nearly impacted every business in some way or another, and biotech organizations are no exception. We recently sat with a panel of life sciences executives to discuss how the pandemic has impacted their businesses, and while each had different experiences, all of them noted how much technology helped them persevere, especially when it came to automating business processes. Last time, we discussed managing relationships with CROs and other vendors during the pandemic. Now we’re getting into how these life science organizations’ have been able to scale NetSuite to their individual needs thanks to its deep customization capabilities.

Everything and anything should be in NetSuite

Phil Brandt, Director of Accounting Systems and Operations at Inari, admitted that in his “post-public accounting career,” he’s only ever worked with NetSuite. However, due to his experience with the platform, he feels that “everything and anything under the sun should be in NetSuite.”
When he first started at Inari, the organization had just implemented NetSuite, so they hadn’t really used the system to its full capacity.

Management wanted to go a different direction when it came to inventory at that time. He told them that that was fine, but he asked them to give him a chance to prove that inventory management should be in NetSuite. It took six months for management to come around, but he was able to prove it. Since then, Inari has added several new modules to its ERP platform, and Brandt joked that he’s always asking for more.

“I think I was calling Liz [his Sikich account manager] every three to four weeks saying, ‘Hey, I need to add another module. And I need to add another module,” he laughed.

One plus in NetSuite’s win column that Brandt strongly emphasized was the software’s customization capabilities.

“A lot of individuals that have may have used an ERP system 10, 15, 20 years ago, do not fully understand the capabilities of a system like NetSuite and how customizable it is,” he added. “Do you want a chat box here? Great. I can add it in 10 seconds. Do you want a drop down list? How do you want this transaction to look? How do you want this report to look?”

Before you add something new…

Kevin Nee, Controller at Collegium Pharmaceutical, concurred with everything Brandt said. He said that when the leadership team wants to add a whole new system to perform an operation, he asks that they “take a stab at it in NetSuite first.”

“Adding new systems, or systems that people use 15 years ago, or systems that are specific to this industry all sound good in theory, but then what happens is everything gets reported out of your ERP,” he pointed out. “And if your ERP is NetSuite, you’ve just created an additional step. And then not only do you run into connectivity or integration between those two systems, but then you have to deal with, well, how do I know that both systems are constantly updating at the same frequency?”

Nee added, “If you add a new thing, it should really be because you have a system limitation or you have this requirement that you can meet with your current technology. And so I agree that trying to leverage what you have and knowing how much capability NetSuite does have, it’s totally worth making your first step looking into NetSuite first before adding something new.”

The goal of having such a robust ERP at your fingertips is so the organization as a whole can work smarter and not harder, as the old cliché goes. If you keep everything under one system roof, then by default, the business processes are more efficient.

This post is part 4 of a 7-part blog series from our Life Sciences Industry Panel regarding adapting to new technology. You can watch the full webinar here. The next post in the series will discuss what these panelists would have done differently during implementation, knowing what they know now. Follow the entire series here.

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