By Glenn Hofmann
What is a NetSuite Sandbox?
Before starting a discussion on the value of a NetSuite Sandbox, it is first important to understand what a Sandbox means in the NetSuite world. The short answer is that a NetSuite Sandbox is a separate NetSuite instance that is created by making an exact copy of your NetSuite production account. With this staging account, your team can create customizations, experiment with new features, train users, find errors, and build new enhancements in a safe and secure account, without fear of impacting your production account.
The benefits of a NetSuite Sandbox
Clients often ask me whether they need a NetSuite Sandbox and if it's worth the investment. My answer is a resounding YES during implementation. I highly recommend having a Sandbox to perform training, testing, and adjustments outside of your production account. In my 30 years of experience deploying ERPs, I have found that a Sandbox is essential for a smooth implementation and go-live experience. Be sure to read my other tips for a smooth implementation.
After implementation is complete, I'm often asked whether it's worth retaining the Sandbox going forward.
In my opinion, the biggest benefit of having a Sandbox is "peace of mind." Making and testing changes or optimizations in a staging account, that is an exact copy of your NetSuite instance, allows you to feel confident before taking the changes live. The benefits of a NetSuite Sandbox include:
- Mitigating the risk of making changes to a live system
- Developing, customizing, and testing features before publishing
- Optimizing environments
- Revising scripts, searches, and forms
- Bypassing costly implementation alterations
- Creating fixes to your system
- Educating and training end-users
"The biggest benefit of having a NetSuite Sandbox is peace of mind. I like to think of it as an insurance policy."
How do I know if an NetSuite Sandbox is right for my business?
Keeping the above list of NetSuite Sandbox benefits in mind, you and your ERP team should take a look at your current (or pranned) NetSuite set-up and determine how complicated your instance is and how often you anticipate making changes, adding new features, or training additional employees.
Below are some key questions that can help you facilitate that discussion.
- Does your organization have a large amount of third-party integrations?
- Do you regularly bring on new employees or move employees into new roles?
- Do you have a large number of customizations (workflows, scripts, records, etc.)?
- Do you plan to enable new modules or features in NetSuite?
- Do you have new acquisitions, locations, or product lines on the horizon?
If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then having a NetSuite Sandbox is probably a wise investment. If you answered yes to more than one of the above questions, I would highly recommend investing in a Sandbox. When considering the cost of the Sandbox, it’s important to keep in mind the cost of making a mistake in production. I like to think of a Sandbox as an insurance policy.
NetSuite Sandbox FAQs
As you consider whether or not to purchase or retain a NetSuite Sandbox account, the following FAQs may be beneficial.
How do I log into my Sandbox?
If you have been given access to your Sandbox, you can log into your Sandbox the same way that you enter into your NetSuite account at netsuite.com. Upon logging in, you have the ability to change roles to switch to a Sandbox role on the dropdown list.
How do I know if I am in my production account or the Sandbox?
There are two ways to identify that you are in the Sandbox. First, when selecting a role, the Sandbox will display “SB” after the role name. Second, when logged into the Sandbox, a logo with the word “SANDBOX” is clearly displayed at the top of the screen. We also recommend changing your personal color scheme in your Sandbox to something unusual, so that it is obvious that you are not in your “normal” production account.
Is a Sandbox truly identical to my production account?
The Sandbox is created using an exact snapshot of your production account (with a few exceptions outlined below). This is achieved through a process called “Sandbox Refresh”. When a Sandbox Refresh is done, the existing Sandbox is wiped out and replaced with an exact snapshot of the current production account, including all configuration, customizations, data, etc. The Sandbox is an exact replica of your production account at the time of the refresh. Of course after the refresh, they will start to diverge as new data is entered into production or as new features are enabled. This is why we recommend regularly scheduled Sandbox Refreshes to ensure your Sandbox does not get stale.
There are a few things that are not copied to the Sandbox during a Sandbox Refresh. They include:
- Inbound single sign-on mappings
- SAML Configuration
- OAuth 2.0
- Token-based Authentication (TBA)
- System Notes on records
- SuiteFlow history logs
- Customer center role assignments for customer users
- Websites and web store domains
- DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
If I send test emails in my Sandbox, will those go to customers, employees, etc.?
There are configuration options for your Sandbox, which include: not sending emails, sending emails to the logged in user, or sending emails to a specific email address. Most organizations elect sending to the logged-in user. This option means if you send an email in the Sandbox, it goes to the logged-in user instead of the entity email address. This allows you to test email processes without being concerned that the emails will be sent to customers, employees, etc.
Can I move customizations from the Sandbox to the production account?
With the SuiteCloud Development and SuiteBundler framework, you have the ability to move custom searches, fields, and lists into production with the bundling process.
Contact us if you'd like to discuss your NetSuite Sandbox options and pricing in more detail.
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