We met a “hot” company that just went SPAC – they are a great company doing great stuff and they get investors excited. They are looking to quickly get off Quickbooks and their haphazard spreadsheet-based control systems and get into NetSuite. Our potential client certainly understands a leading ERP like NetSuite will help them, but they aren’t totally sure exactly how yet.
Their request to us – the several consultant shops they are considering to give their business to - is simple: talk to us about manufacturing. NetSuite has that out-of-the-box, right?
This is where it gets interesting. Manufacturing? I get their concern – they build extremely high-value hi-tech gizmos, each which take a long time to build, and are built by Very Smart People (whose labor is very expensive). They need to track all that.
But they aren’t doing any inventory control. And what’s more, as I dig into it, their business model is a subscription-based offering, with various possibilities like milestone billing, usage-based billing or up-front. Subscription-based billing is common but complex – there is a lot to track to get your invoicing right, and most importantly for a startup-just-gone-public, to get the accounting right. I won’t get into the details here, but ASC 606 governance has a lot to say about performance obligations in such situations, and you get into complex situations when contracts are amended. Our prospect is OK for now because they have only a few contracts, and manual control of everything is manageable – but that won’t last.
So here we are, preparing our presentation for this company. The obvious thing to do is focus on NetSuite’s manufacturing capabilities, which are more than adequate. A few complexities to handle such as capitalization of the asset, but we know how to handle that.
It’d be a simple presentation. We’d give the prospect what they want. It would be the obvious, simple thing to do. A sort of “nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM” kind of thing.
But I don’t think we should do that. The reason for that comes down to understanding Techfino’s culture, and two words: Solution Architecture.
Solution Architecture has a few subtle variations in definition depending on who you ask, but basically it comes down to doing the right thing while considering the greater environment affecting the project.
Solution Architecture is a core philosophy and project approach I’ve always had, and it runs through the veins here at Techfino LLC. Wiktor Borowiec, one of our Managing Partners wrote a 5 part blog series a few years ago about it called Keys to Success for Complex NetSuite Implementations.
As a company looking to implement or expand NetSuite, it’s easy to find consultants that will play it safe and agree with everything about your vision. It’s easy to find implementers that will focus on getting you live in Phase 1 and push everything complicated into a Phase 2. That’s not inherently a bad plan – but it is when the implementers have no intention of sticking around past Phase 1. Everything gets built for the smallest possible project scope. It doesn’t consider the greater environment.
So here we are about to pitch to the client and I don’t think we need to talk about “Why Techfino can set up manufacturing”.
I think we need to talk about their subscription-based / usage billing and their accounting. I think we need to talk about inventory control and time tracking and approval processes and compliance. I think we should talk about all the things this great company with great intellectual property and lightning-fast growth which includes recently going public needs to think about: growth, compliance, efficiency, scalability. Even if that isn’t what they asked. Especially if that isn’t what they asked. Because the Titanic wasn’t sunk by the bit of the iceberg visible above the water, now, was it?
So that’s what we do. I happily draw some Vision diagrams (personal note: I love doing diagrams. It honestly makes me happy for hours on end) to outline their greater operations and highlight the areas that I think are trouble spots. We have great engaged dialogue throughout our presentation.
Shortly after, the client informed us they loved our attention to detail and feel like they’ll be in good hands with us, and want to proceed with our services.
I’m genuinely excited because they have a great business model and I can’t wait to rock this and set them up for long-term success.
If you’re contemplating a NetSuite project of your own, learn more about how we “think” here at Techfino Solution Architecture. I look forward to meeting you and your business and crafting the Solution Architecture that is right for you.
Keep in touch! I’ll be heading out to SuiteWorld next week and will jot down my thoughts on what the big “shake up” in NetSuite Partner ecosystem will bring.