Q&A with Adam Parker, Director of Technology, Kraft Enterprise Systems
The term ‘custom development’ is heard often and casually within the NetSuite and Cloud ERP space, but what is it exactly and how does it help to maximize success and reduce risk in your business?
For insight into these questions, I sat down with Adam Parker, Director of Technology at Kraft Enterprise Systems. He has a lot to say about the essential role of custom development as it relates to success with NetSuite and long-term business impact. Let’s dive right into this important topic.
Q. As the Director of Technology for Kraft Enterprise Systems (KES) with over a decade of experience, how do you define ‘custom development’ within the NetSuite and Cloud ERP space?
A. At a high level, custom development allows NetSuite to capture the unique nuances of your business. After working with hundreds of clients over the years, we know that companies have very specific business needs and requirements, and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work. Custom development allows NetSuite to be personalized for your business. I like to say that custom development, if done well, is a solution-oriented approach that also takes into consideration any negative or long-term potential business impact.
Q. Can you share some examples of custom development?
A. Have you ever found yourself saying, “If only I had this type of functionality, I could do so much more with NetSuite in my business”? This is a great example of where custom development comes into play. Solutions such as full-blown custom modules, custom dashboards to display key business metrics, integrations to connect separate business applications, and improved automation and workflows are all examples of custom development. Our KES SuiteApps are another example of custom development, packaged into a featureful solution, which helps to fill the gaps in NetSuite functionality, allowing for increased efficiency.
Q. How critical is an experienced development team to a successful NetSuite implementation?
A. There is a large degree of risk assessment that is involved with a NetSuite implementation, and this is where an experienced development team can help provide guidance. Mistakes can be very costly, and an experienced development team can help organizations mitigate those risks. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the consequences of companies working with inexperienced development teams. A large part of our business is focused on helping companies get back on track after botched or failed implementations. This is completely avoidable and we highly recommend doing your homework before engaging a team for your NetSuite implementation.
Q. Beyond the NetSuite implementation, why is it important for custom development to stay engaged with ongoing enhancements and support?
A. As you know, NetSuite is an investment of both time and resources. For that reason, our team believes strongly that a client should not be abandoned after the implementation. If a company is going to invest in a solution like NetSuite, our goal is to help them get the most out of that investment. Most companies that implement NetSuite are in a stage of growth, and ongoing enhancements are part of long-term success with the solution. An experienced development team can help ensure that your NetSuite solution and business are optimized so that you can fully utilize the system to your advantage.
Q. How is custom development in NetSuite different from within other platforms?
A. First and foremost, there is ample flexibility when it comes to custom development within NetSuite. Many business leaders have a fear about being locked in to a version of an ERP system once a customization is put in place. With NetSuite, this is not an issue. Custom development will flow from release to release without the need for code to be reworked. This flexibility alone is a huge advantage of NetSuite over other solutions.
Q. What differentiates the KES NetSuite development team from others in the industry?
A. Our team is unique in that we understand business and we also have deep technical product knowledge of NetSuite. We know how to review a business requirements document and translate those needs into a solution. We’re also not afraid to say that something can or can’t be done in NetSuite. If custom development is not necessary and a solution already exists, we are honest with our clients. This is the space where we operate and it goes a long way toward earning trust with our clients and helping them to be successful in their business. We are also a tight knit group with open communication between all parts of our business. Our development team works very closely with our consulting team and this helps to ensure we are creating the best solution for our clients and that all aspects of their business have been considered.
Q. What advice do you have for business leaders considering a move to NetSuite?
A. I would first say that it’s a tremendous burden relief to move to the Cloud. I have a strong IT background, and I’m no stranger to managing servers and networks. In the old days, an entire team would need to be involved with on-premise legacy solutions. Keeping up with the maintenance of the system was a full-time job for an entire team. With a modern cloud solution like NetSuite, you have a more specialized solution, yet less people need to be involved to make it run efficiently. This is a huge time and money saver and something that business leaders should strongly consider. NetSuite was truly designed to be in the cloud, and through its architecture, it just works.
Q. Tell us about your KES SuiteApps and how they got started.
A. While working with our clients, we started doing small customizations to either fill the gaps in NetSuite functionality or to improve a business process in some way. Over time, we began to see patterns with the custom solutions we provided and we asked ourselves if those solutions could be turned into products. This is how our KES SuiteApps were born. They are essentially specialized product tools based on customizations we did time and time again for our clients, except they are now much faster and easier to implement and also very cost effective. With a few mouse clicks, you have a simple yet powerful solution to not only fill the gaps in functionality, but to also personalize NetSuite for your unique business needs.
Q. How did the development of KES SuiteApps deepen your product knowledge of NetSuite?
A. It was an interesting process because it forced our development team to retrain our brain and think in a more productized mindset. I believe this is a huge advantage because we were forced to know NetSuite in depth, the overall architecture of the system, and we can now apply this deep product knowledge to our business knowledge when working with clients.
Q. Do you have a favorite KES SuiteApp?
A. This is a tough question, but I would say our BillFinity SuiteApp only because it was our first one to develop and set us on the course to develop more SuiteApps. BillFinity is a recurring subscription and billing management solution and it’s been widely received within the NetSuite community. A close second is our ERP Toolkit. This is a solution of convenient features or utilities that aim to make new implementations a bit easier, but also provides ongoing functionality. With this app we were able to play around a little more and experiment with some features that are missing in NetSuite but don’t really fit in with out other apps. One of those features is the pivot portlet. With this, we allow a user to add a custom portlet to their dashboard, define a saved search, and then pivot the results. With that being said, all of our SuiteApps help to increase efficiency and automation, and it’s been really fun to introduce these solutions to the NetSuite community.