NetSuite is adding a host of new features and applications to its cloud-based NetSuite enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite, in an effort to enhance its automation capabilities and compete with mid-market rivals such as Epicor, IFS, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, and Zoho in multiple domains including HR, supply chain, banking, finance, and sales.
The new capabilities were announced at the vendor’s annual SuiteWorld conference in Las Vegas.
NetSuite and other ERP software providers have been focusing on automation as CIOs and other C-suite leaders look to navigate challenges such as labour shortages and supply chain issues caused by geopolitical crises and the pandemic, said R Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
Enterprises want to cut down the number of employee hours spent on certain processes, and so are asking for automation, Wang said, adding that automation frees up resources to focus on strategic areas and can cut down errors in repetitive tasks.
NetSuite differentiates itself from its corporate parent, Oracle, by focusing on customers in the mid-market segment that may not be big or complex enough to require, or may not be ready to implement, many separate applications.
“The addition of the new tools feeds directly into the expansion of the suite strategy as most NetSuite customers prefer to keep all software solutions inside NetSuite,” Wang said.
NetSuite uses the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, with customers paying a subscription fee based on number of users. NetSuite ERP is a suite of applications that work together, reside on a common database, and are designed to automate core enterprise business processes.
The ERP suite is available on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure; companies need various tools and connectors to run the system on infrastructure from other cloud providers.
New tools automate routine HR tasks
In an effort to automate some human resources tasks such as wage calculations and attendance tracking, NetSuite has added a workforce management software suite to its HR application, SuitePeople. The software includes tools that can help schedule shifts, calculate labor and operational metrics, and record employee engagement.
A new visual scheduling tool, according to NetSuite, will allow companies to eliminate the use of standalone scheduling applications or spreadsheets. It also enables teams to use a combination of forecasts, employee schedule templates, labor costs, and labor deployment models to build a staffing plan.
In order to automatically track attendance, the management suite of tools comes with a SuitePeople Time Clock that gives employees various capabilities, available via mobile devices, to record time and attendance. Time Clock comes with options for photo capture and biometric fingerprint verification that eliminate the risk of employees logging in and out of work on behalf of other employees, NetSuite said.
In addition, SuitePeople’s now can also automate wage calculations, as data from other tools such as Time Clock and scheduler can flow directly into the payroll tool for processing.
The SuitePeople Workforce Management suite is presently available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Information on timing of the rollout in other geographies was not immediately available.
Mobile app enhances warehouse operations
NetSuite has also introduced a new mobile application, NetSuite Ship Central, as part of its warehouse management system (WMS) software suite. WMS software is typically architected to optimise warehouse tasks such as manpower allocation and inventory control.
The mobile application, which can also be installed on a kiosk device, is expected to minimise shipping costs and transit times, NetSuite said. NetSuite Ship Central is being sold now in the US and will be available worldwide in November, the company said.
Automation speeds accounts payable
Looking to help enterprises process bills and pay vendors faster from within NetSuite’s ERP platform, the company has introduced a new tool, Accounts Payable (AP) Automation, inside its SuiteBanking application.
The tool can capture vendor bills using machine learning-based object detection and optical character recognition (OCR), the company said, adding that it comes with a bill-matching and approvals feature to avoid overpayment or fraudulent or duplicate payments.
Automated bill matching ensures vendor bills are two- or three-way matched with the associated purchase orders to ensure details such as unit pricing, quantity, and totals are accurate, NetSuite said.
The new tool comes with a vendor payment automation feature in partnership with HSBC Bank, the company added. This partnership allows enterprises to access payment options such as checks or virtual credit cards, among others.
AP Automation also offers payment reconciliation, designed to improve the accuracy of accounting with the help of a rules engine that matches and reconciles virtual credit card charges while flagging discrepancies for further review by accounting staff.
“Having core account aspects within the ERP gives the user the opportunity to incorporate all the other data flows within the organisation into their accounts payable planning and accounts payable strategy," said Kevin Permenter, research director at IDC. "Using one window to see the entire spend workflow and ERP data saves time and reduces errors."
The software is currently available in the US, and Oracle is offering free implementation, no charges for bill scanning, plus a 50 per cent discount on the subscription fee to its first 1,000 customers for AP Automation.
CPQ tool streamlines sales process
NetSuite also introduced a new add-on sales application, NetSuite Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ). The software, according to the company, will help enterprise sales teams configure, price and quote complex products accurately and reliably, directly from with the NetSuite ERP.
While the guided selling feature is designed to allow enterprises to find the exact products and services needed from thousands of SKUs by providing an e-commerce-like catalog experience and filtering tools, the configurator feature allows enterprises to save time spent on reworking orders by applying customisable rules that ensure every configuration, across product and service features, is correct.
The add-on tool, which is priced separately from the core NetSuite ERP system, is currently being offered only in the North America region and includes features such as a proposal generator, bill of materials calculator and e-commerce integration.