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NetSuite ERP adds CPQ, workforce management applications

NetSuite debuted several new features for CPQ, workforce management, embedded banking and warehouse management for its cloud ERP platform at SuiteWorld 2022.

Oracle NetSuite rolled out new products for NetSuite cloud ERP at the company's SuiteWorld 2022 conference.

NetSuite, a SaaS ERP aimed at SMBs, is primarily oriented to financial applications, and the new products unveiled at SuiteWorld are focused on helping companies run processes like HR scheduling and customer acquisition more efficiently. The vendor's main customers come from professional services, consumer packaged goods and retail.

The NetSuite ERP suite of applications, which competes with offerings from Acumatica, Epicor, IFS, Infor and Unit4, integrate and automate core business processes such as finance, sales, HR, warehouse management and supply chain.

The suite is available to run on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and can run on other cloud infrastructures via integration tools and connectors. Evan Goldberg, founder and executive vice president of Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit, said during the opening conference keynote last week that NetSuite is growing rapidly, pointing to the addition of 5,000 customers between last year and now as evidence.

At SuiteWorld, Goldberg unveiled the new products and capabilities to the 6,700 live and 30,000 virtual attendees. They included the following:

  • NetSuite AP Automation, which embeds banking services into ERP applications to automatically process bills and make payments, according to Goldberg. For example, AP Automation can capture vendor bills using machine learning-based object detection and optical character recognition, and uses bill-matching and approvals to prevent overpayments, duplicates or fraud. Also, a vendor payment automation built in partnership with HSBC enables customers to access payments, checks and virtual credit cards.
  • NetSuite CPQ (configure, price, quote), a new capability that the company acquired from Verenia in January, which enables customers to generate sales proposals directly from NetSuite ERP. This CPQ application replaces manual spreadsheet-based CPQ processes and provides a guided selling feature to help customers find the products they want to include in a proposal, add the appropriate pricing and dynamically generate the quote, according to Goldberg.
  • SuitePeople Workforce Management, an HR application that comes from NetSuite's acquisition of Adi Insights in May, which enables companies and individual contributors to set hours and process payroll, according to Goldberg. SuitePeople Workforce Management also replaces manual processes by automatically matching forecast demand with the number of workers needed to fulfill the demand. A time clock function provides employees with the ability to record time and attendance, while security features prevent employees from logging other employees in or out.
  • NetSuite Ship Central, a mobile application that enables warehouse workers to perform functions like packing and shipping from their devices or kiosks, Goldberg said. Ship Central is designed to eliminate steps in preparing shipments, streamline multiple shipments and provide real-time shipment tracking.

Need for improved scheduling software

NetSuite's new applications provide functionality that customers need, said analyst Brian Sommer, founder and president of TechVentive, a technology advisory firm in Carmel, Ind.

SuitePeople Workforce Management, for example, has capabilities that businesses -- particularly retailers -- need in today's volatile employment environment, he said. Scheduling is a critical issue for employers and employees, but until recently, it has never been a big focus in HR software applications.

"Scheduling is probably the No. 1 pain point that employees have in retail firms, because not only do they need flexibility in how their schedules are set up, they also want to get as many hours as possible," Sommer said. "The spreadsheets that a lot of the NetSuite customers are usually using to do that function today are just so inadequate."

Photo of NetSuite founder and executive vice president Evan Goldberg speaking at the SuiteWorld 2022 conference
Evan Goldberg, NetSuite founder and executive vice president, speaks at the SuiteWorld 2022 conference.

NetSuite CPQ has been well integrated with other NetSuite applications, he said. While CPQ is usually associated with manufacturing companies, NetSuite CPQ can also work with distributors and retailers.

However, NetSuite could make the CPQ application more complete by adding functionality for professional services, Sommer said.

"We're seeing CPQ come in services from vendors like FinancialForce with a strong professional services automation background," he said. "That may be the next new area that [NetSuite] will move into as a CPQ capability as well."

CPQ is "a must" for ERP vendors these days, according to Predrag Jakovljevic, analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers. But as the NetSuite CPQ is primarily aimed at product-based companies, he agreed that NetSuite might want to acquire CPQ designed for services, given the number of professional services customers it has.

Overall, the new applications are all sensible additions that should help NetSuite compete in the midsize enterprise ERP market, Jakovljevic said. The acquisitions of Verenia for CPQ and Adi Insights each provided NetSuite with new needed functionality.

"SuitePeople Workforce Management gives them capabilities like scheduling and wage compliance, so they no longer have to lose market share to [HR software vendor] UKG," Jakovljevic said.

NetSuite's reported growth from 27,000 to 32,000 customers in the last year is impressive, a trend that should continue as it expands into regions where it has not had a significant presence, such as Brazil and India, he said.

"In the short term, NetSuite will ride the cloud growth curve and flourish," Jakovljevic said. "The question is, what happens when growth slows? What's the next chapter -- or will Oracle do something unwise, which will effectively neuter them?"

Although NetSuite has indicated in the past that it would work more closely with corporate parent Oracle to add more advanced Oracle technologies into the NetSuite ERP platform, there were no specifics about this at SuiteWorld, Sommer said.

"They are possibly saving some big headlines for the future," he said.

Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget senior news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for TechTarget Editorial.

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