My Journey to NetSuite from a SaaS Perspective
By: Glenn Hofmann
Right off the bat, let me be clear: I love NetSuite!
Is it strange to love an ERP system?
After supporting everything from QuickBooks to SAP for the first 20 years of my career, the breath of fresh air that was NetSuite and the way it addressed so many challenges I’d previously run into definitely changed my relationship with ERP systems. That relationship went from grudging acceptance of limitations to genuine excitement at the possibilities for meaningful change. So yes, after working with nothing but NetSuite for the last 14 years, I can unequivocally say that I love NetSuite.
Having said that, of course, even the best relationships are not perfect ones. My relationship with NetSuite has been no different. While there is a very long list of great things about NetSuite, there are some quirks, some self-dubbed “interesting” solutions, and quite frankly some missing features. This was especially clear to me as someone who came from the SaaS world inundated with recurring billing, professional services, and entitlements management.
For this world, while NetSuite handled core accounting needs quite well, it left SaaS and similar companies in a bind. You had a tough choice to make:
- use a 3rd part recurring billing tool that integrated with NetSuite,
- bite the bullet and use the overkill that is SuiteBilling, or
- rig together some type of workaround solution with contract management, sales orders, and/or memorized transactions.
I worked with each of these solutions at different companies, and the results of each of them . . . were not pretty.
KES Billfinity For NetSuite:
A Simple, Powerful, Recurring Billing Solution
When I joined Kraft Enterprise Systems (KES) in 2017, knowing that we wanted to move into NetSuite product development (i.e. SuiteApps), the struggle and frustrations of those past solutions were still fresh on my mind. I knew without a doubt what our first product had to be. We were going to develop a simple, powerful, recurring billing solution that would make it easy for SaaS and similar companies to migrate onto NetSuite and gain all of the benefits that came with it — without the need for 3rd party tools and integrations, overkill solutions, or workarounds that only work some of the time. From this idea, KES Billfinity was born.
KES Billfinity's design boiled down to one question: How can we make it easy to manage ongoing recurring billing, while still allowing for upgrades, downgrades, and cancellations?
We accomplished the challenge above by adding a custom subscription record to manage the “rules” for each subscription, and then leveraged as much of core NetSuite as we could. We use standard NetSuite customers, items, sales order, invoices, etc. If you’ve purchased the NetSuite Rev Rec module, we use that too. If not, we can simply use amortization schedules.
When we rolled KES Billfinity out to our first customer in 2017, they helped us iron out any kinks, we made sure it was Built for NetSuite (“BFN”) certified, and then we started introducing it across our customer base. The reception has been exceptional, and our customers have given us great feedback that helps us continue to add new features with each release. Our “simple but powerful” recurring billing management tool now brings all sorts of advanced features, including: usage billing, ramp management, the ability to work with data from an external CRM system, and advanced reporting. We had accomplished exactly what we set out to do.
KES A/R Toolkit For NetSuite:
Advanced A/R Automation And Management
After the successful release of Billfinity, it struck us that many of our clients, SaaS or not, had a need to further automate their A/R functions beyond standard NetSuite. Over and over, we heard the same needs and developed the same one-off custom solutions.
But then it hit us: why redo this same work from scratch each time? And if so many of our own clients needed these same solutions, wouldn’t many others, too?
To provide one solution that would work for many of our customers, we developed our KES A/R Toolkit for advanced A/R automation and management. The excitement with which the KES A/R Toolkit was received was even greater than when we released KES BillFinity, and we knew we were onto something special.
So now with our A/R Toolkit, customers can
- have advanced approvals for SO’s, invoices, and credit memos,
- do even more advanced automated emailing of invoices (multiple email addresses, to vs. cc:, scheduled sends),
- have fully configurable/automated collections/dunning,
- automatically apply open payments/credits upon invoicing, and so much more.
The A/R Toolkit truly does streamline A/R operations.
KES Customer Portal For NetSuite:
Customer Account Access 24/7
There was one final piece of the SaaS “puzzle” that would enable us to have a full next-level A/R solution. When our customers told us they wanted their customers to have the ability to self-service, that led to the development of the KES Customer Portal, and the final piece fell into place.
With our Customer Portal, customers can now
- login to view/print past invoices,
- pay invoices (using MerchantE for secure credit card and/or bank ACH payments),
- update payment methods,
- update profile information,
- provide case/ticket management, all from one place.
Plus with our Premium version, customers can also place orders and manage access for other users in their organization. Using the KES Customer Portal basically removes all of the above activity from A/R teams and instead gives customers the ability to accomplish this directly, at their leisure.
KES SaaS Bundle:
End-To-End A/R Automation
The KES SaaS Bundle provides end-to-end A/R process automation and helps alleviate frustrations related to subscription management with recurring billing, full A/R automation, and customer self-service. An added benefit of our SaaS Bundle is that all of our included SuiteApps work together to give a seamless solution — from invoice entry to cash application, and every step in between. The KES SuiteApps included in the SaaS Bundle are built as a NetSuite extension, so there is no separate integration needed. Simply work with our team to quickly deploy the toolkit in your NetSuite environment and see the benefits of end-to-end A/R automation.
It has been a long NetSuite journey for me, but also a very satisfying one. I no longer have to qualify my love of NetSuite with shortcomings that detract from its incredible value. Not only do we have a great solution to manage our own recurring billing business; we also have many happy SaaS and related customers now able to take full advantage of all that is great with NetSuite. I have no doubt that if you ask many of them, they will join me in proudly saying: “I love NetSuite!”