Life Sciences Industry Panel Series: Part 5 – NetSuite Implementation in Hindsight

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 customizing NetSuite for individual organizations’ needs. Now we’re getting into what these life sciences organizations would have done differently for NetSuite implementation, knowing what they know now.

Kevin Nee, Controller at Collegium Pharmaceutical, immediately said that the best thing his company did for implementation was to keep things simple and set things up for scalability. However, he went on to say that knowing what he knows now, he’s learned that it’s critical for a successful ERP implementation to not only have all of the people possible involved with the project, but also clearly communicate what input you need from this.

“When you’re doing an ERP implementation, even if it’s NetSuite and you’re really only doing the financial side, there are still going to be multiple departments involved,” he explained. “People who need to go in to approve invoices or approve other things. And, you need to know if I need to implement this thing by X date, I need to achieve all of these different steps, right?

“And you can’t spend time in meetings with people who say, well, you know, I don’t really like the background of the PO page or, you know, I really wish the check box is over here. That type of thing can cause a lot of swirl and inefficient time. If you communicate to people like, Hey, listen, you know, we don’t need this to be a hundred percent perfect the way you envisioned it to go live. We need to make sure that it’s functioning to the requirements that we know we need to adhere to, and that it fits your business need without being overly complicated or inefficient.”

Kuram Choudhry, the accounting manager at Imara, Inc., echoed Kevin’s sentiment. Since Imara had so many different systems the company wanted to bring into NetSuite, Kuram said they should have had more communication with the company’s account managers for those systems.

“We had a lot of meetings with NetSuite during our implementation, and one of the things that we talked about was all of these systems that are eventually going to be feeding into NetSuite,” he said. “I think it would have served us better in those communication meetings to have brought in our representatives from those other systems to help us face any challenges between these systems head on.”

Phil Brandt, Director of Accounting Systems and Operations at Inari, said that since a company will already know that NetSuite can handle all stages of finance for the organization, it’s important to make sure that NetSuite will add value for the rest of the organization outside of finance and compliance.

“It’s something new, and nobody knows what it is outside of the finance world,” Brandt said. “So for the rest of the organization, the COO, CEO, and other parts of leadership, you almost have to be a salesperson for NetSuite.”

This post is part 5 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 how NetSuite made it easier for their organizations to go public. Follow the entire series here.

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