NetSuite User Group To Help Industry In Shared Journey
Oracle NetSuite can be a powerful industry tool, but it’s a bit more complicated than a simple hammer and nail.
The ERP system is designed to make more companies more efficient, but if a distributor or supplier doesn’t approach it with some degree of deliberateness and knowledge – just like with any tech platform – they run the risk of an integration process that is anything but efficient.
PPAI believes the best solution to this is obvious: dialogue.
- That’s why the Association created a NetSuite user group to share best practices, tips for maximizing the platform, potential troubleshooting and networking surrounding NetSuite.
- Meetups and online communication will be included in the user group.
- Experienced NetSuite users and business collaborators, like representatives from eXtendTech, will provide methodologies for tailoring the ERP to specific needs or growth opportunities.
“What makes the user group important is there are different ways to utilize this tool,” says Kari Banner, PPAI’s associate manager of affinity programs and key organizer of the user group.
Kate Daniels, a representative of NetSuite and one of six speakers during user group’s inaugural session January 9 at The PPAI Expo 2023, also stressed the importance of collaboration.
“As people, we take our recommendations far more readily from our friends and our colleagues than we do from strangers,” Daniels said to a room of 80 current or potential NetSuite users in Las Vegas. “There’s something important about being part of a community.”
That packed room at The Mandalay Bay in early January was just the beginning. With the user group, PPAI hopes any promo company looking to grow through using NetSuite can look to their peers to avoid any speed bumps along the way.
What A NetSuite User Group Can Accomplish
Larry Cohen was in attendance during the NetSuite user group at The PPAI Expo Conference. President of the East Region Enterprise Team at HALO and founder of Axis Promotions, Cohen readily acknowledges that NetSuite was a core part of his company scaling in size, citing how “robust” the ERP system was in its capabilities.
- Cohen’s experience was eventually fruitful, but on January 9, he stood in a room full of people going through some version or stage of the integration process he once navigated.
“It would have been valuable [to have a user group when we implemented NetSuite],” Cohen says. “We kind of created our own user group. We called anyone who would talk to us about their experience.”
The NetSuite in-person meetup at The PPAI Expo Conference was just one format that the user group can take, but it’s one that can be replicated over time, with PPAI even considering the possibility of expanding the meetup from an hour-long session to an entire day, perhaps at a future PPAI Expo.
- Nick DiNicola, PPAI’s digital transformation manager, says he received positive feedback about the user group meeting, which had more attendees than available seats, and many came early or stayed late for networking purposes.
- Future meetup and networking opportunities could take place at future PPAI Expos, other PPAI-organized events and conferences or other industry events.
“This session had NetSuite users from small to large companies, both distributors and suppliers, so there were plenty of takeaways for everyone,” DiNicola says.
Speakers at the NetSuite user group included:
- Kate Daniels, Industry Partnership Director, Oracle/NetSuite
- Bryan Bendo, Principal Sales Consultant, Oracle/NetSuite
- Sam Hornstein, President, eXtendTech
- Dino Bangiorno, MAS, Managing Director, eXtendTech
- Marc Sule, Chief Information Officer, alphabroder
- Andrea Kramer, President, City Apparel
“Our industry is unique, and so many challenges are unique to our industry, but rarely are they unique to each member,” says Dale Denham, MAS+, PPAI president and CEO.
Shared problems lead to common solutions and best practices, and when everyone is sharing efficient practices, Cohen says, it can eventually bring down the cost of doing business for all parties.
“One of the things that always fascinates me about the industry is the willingness of competitors and like-minded people to share fairly openly about best practices,” Cohen says.
- In addition, the user group includes access to a Microsoft Teams channel which requires a PPAI membership.
- This channel will serve as an online community where NetSuite users can pose specific questions for which other users may have experienced solutions.
- On-demand webinars will eventually be available for NetSuite and PPAI members to leverage and utilize.
Turning A Process Into A Tool
PPAI would like the user group to mirror NetSuite in that it will offer different things to different people and companies.
“It feels like it’s growing legs and arms,” DiNicola says of the early stages of the NetSuite user group.
The long-term stories PPAI hears about NetSuite have common themes:
- A significant integration process.
- A daunting task of discovering the ERP’s offerings that prove to be the most logical fits.
- Results that reward the process of taking on such questions.
The OracleNetSuite team can help any business with integration, but peer advice and testimony is valuable in any aspect of any industry when it comes to the hyper specifics of a process.
“We ultimately want organizations to exhibit independent success with NetSuite to leverage the power of the platform to solve issues that are specific to their organizations,” says Sam Hornstein, president of eXtendTech, who is well experienced in NetSuite and an early proponent and participant of the user group in its planning period.
NetSuite could be described as an out-of-the-box, ready-to-use-financial service product, but what any given company needs from it will vary.
- A large supplier like alphabroder will use NetSuite in a unique way.
- A much smaller supplier might not need the same scaling that alphabroder does, but it could be looking at NetSuite tools for a smaller segmentation.
- Order automation is a tool that members can learn from one another, whether supplier or distributor, as there are a lot of overlapping processes.
- PPAI is integrating NetSuite for its accounting, a significant venture that is specific and separate from other PPAI departments.
- There are six core areas of promo that NetSuite can be utilized within, ranging from merchandising to human resources.
“Learning from other industry professionals on how they're leveraging NetSuite for their promo business is the whole reason the group exists,” Banner says.
Experience in NetSuite is a valuable asset, but that value is only realized if it’s shared with peers who might utilize it, potentially expediting and streamlining the way the industry does business.
“We thought it to be valuable to be a part of this group to share our experience and knowledge with the group, as we’ve been fortunate to have seen many different use cases and have worked with many different companies using NetSuite both small and large,” Hornstein says.
User Groups Beyond NetSuite
The NetSuite launch event was an example of a service that fits into PPAI’s mission, and when The PPAI Expo brings together so much of the industry, the Association aims to capitalize on that community by targeting issues, causes, platforms and possibilities that can be discussed in one room.
“The PPAI Expo foundation involves bringing people together to collaborate, and the collaboration has long extended beyond products,” says Denham. “PPAI is committed to bringing more groups together where collaborating in-person can bring significant value to member organizations and individuals.”
Reciprocal knowledge unlocks possibility for an industry, and user groups can be a key component of making an industry more than a collection of companies dealing with similar products.
“I believe user groups are essential in furthering the education and support of common practices across the subject matter,” Hornstein says. “Some basic tricks and tips can prove invaluable to other organizations that were not aware of it.”
Whether it’s NetSuite, PDX, PromoStandards, commonsku, countless distributors or many others, PPAI believes in facilitating the conversations that lead to growth and efficiency.
“NetSuite is just one of many user group meetings that will be held at The PPAI Expo going forward, in addition to the many that have taken place for years,” Denham says. “We’ll listen to our members and build the content around what drives the most value to our members.”
Individuals interested in taking part in the NetSuite user group are encouraged to email Nick DiNicola at NickD@ppai.org.