Laptop on bench in manufacturing premises used to access NetSuite cloud ERP solution.

5 steps to 360-degree ERP integration - a phased approach for the manufacturing sector

The manufacturing sector has faced significant challenges in recent years as a result of factors including the pandemic, Brexit and disruption to supply chains due to shipping and transport issues. On top of this, evolving consumer buying habits have dramatically affected demand fluctuation, making business planning even more challenging. But a clear facilitator of agility to help those in this sector navigate the winds of change, survive and thrive, is technology. By embracing technology solutions, manufacturing operators can digitise the supply chain, automate key functions, identify and respond to evolving customer needs, and effectively manage resource for smooth and successful operations.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions are what many manufacturers use to manage operations, but with many still relying on out-of-date, on premise ERP systems, they could be severely hindering growth. Those who adopt a cloud-first strategy that delivers a complete 360-degree view of the business – by integrating all operational elements into one single version of the truth – can reduce complexity, increase efficiency, scalability and reliability, and manage risk.

Those worried about disruption of implementation or cost of such solutions, which can often present a barrier to adoption, should not be. Oracle NetSuite offers a clear staggered pathway to implementation success, and with a solution partner experienced in manufacturing – like us! – any manufacturer can be sure of a seamless adoption strategy. NetSuite’s Stairway for Manufacturing presents logical steps to implementation to enable manufacturing operators to scale and grow at their own pace. Plus, if outlay is a concern, the cost is strategically spread and aligned with company expansion, and early-bird adopters always benefit from time and cost savings.

Man working on wooden item manufactured in a large workshop wearing mask - orders are managed through NetSuite.


Establishing a single business view

When accessing data in silos across supply chain, IT, manufacturing and sales, using multiple disparate systems, organisations will struggle to manage costs effectively due to process bottlenecks and employee productivity issues. The first stage of implementing a cloud-based solution such as NetSuite within a manufacturing business is to combine financials, CRM and order processing, and inventory data on a real-time platform, allowing all departments to operate from a unified base. NetSuite’s out-of-the-box roles, reports and dashboards means set-up and training is turnkey, providing faster time to value.

When a manufacturing business has a solution such as this in place, significant benefits and ROI can be achieved: NetSuite cites 20-30 per cent reduction in inventory costs, 60-80 per cent reduction in customer back orders and 2-10 per cent increase in revenue performance. Savings are derived from employee productivity and IT cost reductions, not just through more effective inventory management or order processing. In a competitive and challenging arena, these figures can make a huge difference for many businesses.


Read more – 5 reasons why manufacturing firms benefit from embracing the digital age of business management


Spareks coming off manufacturing company machinery. Manufacturers use ERP solutions to manage the whole of their business and have one version of the truth.


Elevating operational functionality 

Quality and supply chain management are key factors in any manufacturing business. These are elements that are included in NetSuite’s next suggested implementation phase.

NetSuite for Manufacturing facilitates quality assurance processes including the set-up of inspection plans, tracking of test results and evaluation of vendors. It’s easy to set parameters – such as minimum standard – define tests to be performed and evaluate the results… with real-time data available on results. This can be done for items during the manufacturing process, on receipt or on demand. Workflows can then be set on how to best handle non-conforming items or materials.

Management of supply chains across multiple continents and time zones is also a capability within the solution. Regardless of where the product may be stored, the solution offers complete management capability, evaluating inventory and demand – which can be based on historical data and sales forecasts – and calculating important factors such as lead times. Full control over the supply chain is enabled – which is important for any manufacturing business, but especially a multi-location or subsidiary business.

Woman in electronics manufacturing firm with wires and robotics about her as she works on NetSuite on her laptop.


Expanding with better business insights

The real-time business intelligence provided by NetSuite’s powerful, real-time dashboards helps business owners and managers identify issues, trends and opportunities, and can suggest a next best action based on the data. Information can be viewed on a snapshot or granular detail level, and the self-serve function is easy to use, with reporting tools that require no highly technical ability – and can be accessed from any device, desktop or mobile.

Production management is of course a key factor for manufacturing businesses and one that should also be included in this implementation phase. It is crucial for efficient manufacturing operations. Whether it’s capacity planning, materials requirement planning or forecasting, having the capability to effectively plan and schedule for on-time delivery optimises business processes and enhances customer satisfaction. The NetSuite solution provides real-time visibility of aspects including sales and work order processing, scheduling, costing and order fulfilment, for a 360 degree view of production management.

Man in electronics manufacturing job at bench - manufacturers can have visibility over parts and orders easily.


Accelerate growth with optimised processes

By this stage of implementation, it’s time to consider really accelerating growth. Focusing on optimising sales and orders is easy with NetSuite as there is a seamless flow of information across the customer lifecycle. Increasing usage of NetSuite’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software at this stage will mean that not only will traditional CRM capabilities be covered, but quotes delivery, order management, commissions, sales forecasting and ecommerce capabilities can be integrated. Having the real-time forecasting capability significantly increases accuracy in sales predictability. NetSuite offers the functionality to create forecast categories and enter sales ranges according to the deal. Integrating order management means the forecast is based on actual orders rather than just those in the pipeline.

At this stage, optimising shop floor and warehouse processes is also key to accelerating growth. The Warehouse Management System (WMS) capability within the NetSuite solution ensures streamlined warehouse operations, optimally managing processes such as picking, putaway, cycle count planning, inventory and shipping management. Visibility of this in one single view provides the business with true agility, increases labour efficiency and minimises total cost of operation (TCO).

Manufacturing organisations in today’s market should also consider the full range of channels through which to sell their products. For those wanting to sell direct to end user, or provide native selling support for selling through partners, NetSuite can service B2B and B2C companies, and can facilitate omnichannel sales with ease. B2B and B2C web stores can be hosted on the same platform. Web portals for B2B customers to facilitate quick orders and wholesale pricing can be set up. No selling opportunities need be missed.


Does your manufacturing business undertake services or repairs? Check out our guest blog from Next Technik, our award-winning native NetSuite solution partner that delivers field mobility for customers in 75+ micro-verticals globally – 5 Ways NetSuite + NextService FSM SuiteApp Optimises Field Service Operations


Manufacturing firm installation operative with equipment - man with drill can have access to ERP information in the field.


Dominate with mobile enabled operations

With some manufacturing firms executing repairs, servicing or installations at customer premises, the ability to manage field service operations smoothly and effectively is key. This is one of the elements suggested in the final implementation step by NetSuite, and its Field Service Management capability fulfils this with a connected and automated solution. The functionality means all suppliers, technicians, management and customers can communicate effectively.

The solution offers the capability to efficiently manage resource – an important element when operating a field service workforce – and the mobile access means engineers can access work information, schedules and other data vital to their job, while on-the-go. They can also collect payments in the field with the payment processing feature. Those responsible for setting work schedules for engineers can execute all work order management: generating, assigning and monitoring work-order activities with ease.


The above integration steps offer a phased approach for manufacturers to start realising the benefits of a cloud-based ERP solution. With the right technology and tools, manufacturers can enable smoother operations, faster decision making, improve the customer experience and positively impact the bottom line. All this can be done in phases – so doesn’t have to be as daunting a prospect as it may sound!


If you’d like further information about how NetSuite could help your manufacturing business, get in touch today and one of our specialist team members will be happy to offer advice.