What is NetSuite – Overview

This article and article set are relatively old. They were taken from my original site, NetSuite Guru. Their accuracy may be somewhat dated. They also may not be as well written as other content found on this site. They may be updated in the future however have not been updated yet.

I think it is appropriate to start this blog and website with a quick discussion of what NetSuite is, and what it isn’t; as well as some of its capabilities at a high level. NetSuite started as Net Ledger way back in 1998, and was primarily an accounting system at that time. It was then and has always been a hosted system, meaning that there has never been a version of the software that you install locally. It is delivered through a web browser, and is an Application as a Service (AaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Utility computing and/or Cloud based application; though these are really just the latest industry buzzwords and the truth is that it’s just a business application that runs on hardware that is hosted and maintained for you. NetSuite has grown in complexity and functionality over the years and while an entire article could be written about the history of the system this is not that article.

There are basically a few components you should understand to truly understanding what NetSuite is. At a high level these components are: An overview of the back end architecture of the application. What editions of the NetSuite application exist, and who and what those editions are intended for. The areas of the system and an overview of what each of those areas can do. What types of customization are available and what can be done through the customization of the system. What some common limitations of the system are, and lastly where to go from here to get more information. The following articles which are all part of this “What is NetSuite” series cover each of these major points in order. While I recommend that you read through each of the articles in the order presented, they can be read through in pretty much any order and can each stand alone.

  • System Architecture Overview – This short article provides information about how the backend systems of NetSuite work, and what the requirements are to run NetSuite.
  • Licensing, Versions and Editions – This article provides information about how NetSuite is licensed. What versions, editions and levels are available. What modules, bundles and third-party add-on applications are available, and other such information.
  • Functional Areas – This article covers the primary functional areas of the NetSuite system, and some of their limitations. These areas include Accounting, Procurement, Sales, Customer Relationship Management, Marketing, Project Management, Human Resources, Website and Support among others. Overall this article provides a good understanding of what NetSuite can do.
  • Customizations – This article provides an overview of how NetSuite can be customized. This includes areas such as Forms, Fields, Records, Updates, Integrations, Workflows, Scripting, Bundles, Work Centers, Modules and others. If you want to know how you can change the out of the box NetSuite experience to work how your business works then this is a great place to look.
  • Common Limitations – Like any system NetSuite has some limitations, and this article talks about what some of the most common limitations of the system are, and a few workarounds to them. While it is always nice to know what things a system can do it is equally necessary to know what it cannot do, and an overview of those limitations is what this article provides.
  • Where to go from here –When I was learning the system years ago it was incredibly difficult to find some of the information I needed, sometimes because I didn’t even know where to start looking. While some of these resources did not exist then, some of them did but I was not aware of them. To help save you some of the frustration I encountered, this last article in the series, provides an abundance of resources to help you as you learn or evaluate NetSuite.

In the end NetSuite is a jack of all trades, the system does a lot and some of what it does works very well. Still there are some areas where it does not perform quite as well. Most of what the system does works adequately for what most businesses need. Overall there is more good than there is bad, but there can still be a few gotchas. Whether you’re looking at NetSuite as a new implementation, as the replacement for an existing system, or you have already implemented it and just need to expand or learn the system I hope this series of articles provides you with a solid foundation. I am also interested in hearing what you think, so please let me know.