By Glenn Hofmann, KES Managing Director
Before starting a discussion of 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 account is a separate NetSuite instance that is created by making an exact copy of your NetSuite production account. This then allows your team to create customizations, experiment with new features, train users, find errors, and build new enhancements in a safe and secure account, without any concern of impacting your production account.
So with this as the description, one thing we get asked often by our clients is if it is worth paying for a NetSuite sandbox. The question is pretty easy to answer during an implementation…we highly recommend having a sandbox so that training, testing, and adjustments can all be done outside of your production account. The bigger question – is it worth retaining the sandbox after the implementation is complete?
When asked about the benefits of retaining a sandbox after implementation, the standard answer is as follows:
- Mitigate the risk of making changes to a live system
- Develop, customize and test features before publishing
- Optimize environments
- Revise scripts, searches, and forms
- Bypass costly implementation alterations
- Create fixes to your system
- Educate and train end-users
So based on this, there are some core questions that can help answer if an ongoing sandbox would be beneficial for your company:
- Does your organization have a large amount of third-party integrations?
- If yes, a sandbox can be very beneficial to allow for testing of version changes or other integration adjustments.
- Do you regularly bring on new employees or move employees into new roles?
- If yes, a sandbox can be very beneficial as it allows for “hands-on” training in a safe environment without impacting your production environment.
- Do you have a large number of customizations (workflows, scripts, records, etc.)?
- If yes, a sandbox is a good idea to allow for testing of changes to your customizations, helping you to understand the impact before moving the changes to a production environment.
- Do you plan to enable new modules or features in NetSuite?
- If yes, a sandbox is recommended as a place to enable and test these features/modules before deploying to a production account.
- Do you have new acquisitions, locations, or product lines on the horizon?
- Here again a sandbox is recommended to allow you to setup and validate configuration and data for these prior to moving to a production account.
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then having a NetSuite sandbox is likely a wise investment. If you answered yes to more than one of the above, we would highly recommend investing in a sandbox. When considering the cost of the sandbox, it’s important to consider the cost of making a mistake in production. We consider the cost of a sandbox to be similar to the cost of insurance.
As you consider whether or not to purchase/retain a NetSuite sandbox account, the following FAQ’s may be beneficial.
1. How do I log into my Sandbox account?
If you have been given access to your sandbox account, you can log into your sandbox account the exact 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.
2. How do I know if I am in my production vs sandbox account?
There are two ways to identify that you are in a sandbox account. First, when selecting a role, any sandbox accounts will display “SB” after the role name. Second, when logged into a sandbox account, 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 account to something unusual so that it is obvious that you are not in your “normal” production account.
3. Is a sandbox account truly identical to my production account?
Sandbox accounts are created using an exact snapshot of your production account (with a few exceptions outlined below). This is done 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. So yes, it 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 account does not get too “stale”.
The few things not copied to sandbox as part of a sandbox refresh are as follows:
• 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)
4. If I send test emails in my sandbox account, won’t those go to customers, employees, etc.?
There are configuration options for your sandbox to not send emails, send emails to the logged in user, or send emails to a specific email address. Most organizations elect to send to the logged-in user. This means that in sandbox, if an email is sent, it goes to the logged-in user instead of the entity email address. This allows for testing of email processes without any concern that the emails will actually be sent to customers, employees, etc.
When you are properly logged in, the sandbox logo will be in the header of the page. You can also access Sandbox accounts from the account type column on the choose role page so you can differentiate it from your production account.
5. Can I move customizations from Sandbox to production?
With the SuiteCloud Development and SuiteBundler framework, you have the ability to move custom searches, fields, and lists into production with the bundling process.
6. How much does a sandbox cost for my NetSuite account?
NetSuite standard sandbox prices are calculated based on an annual license at 10% of the users and modules purchased. You should contact your NetSuite partner to discuss pricing in more detail.