Nov 19, 2020

Plugging a Purchasing Process to NetSuite PO

by Dor Beglaubter

Why Should You Open Purchase Orders on NetSuite?

Very often we encounter modern, fast-moving organizations that leverage NetSuite as an ERP system, and are now focused on implementing a proper purchase-to-pay process – starting with approving purchases, booking goods received, and onboarding new vendors.

Managing Approvals on NetSuite PO

Most of those organizations have tried to allow their people to open a PO directly on NetSuite, but figured that this process is too technical, not to mention, sometimes confusing for the people involved.

First of all, granting non-finance users NetSuite access requires permissions and training, and this usually means partial adoption. Secondly, approval flows need more flexibility, and support more criteria – not only the departments – but also the location, amount, dynamic fields and more. Not only that, but the technicality of the process results in a lot of maintenance work – often, users would come to our champion asking if they could help them set up a vendor or an item just so that they can open a PO and so on.

Onboarding Vendors to NetSuite

On top of opening POs, there is often no good process for requesting and creating a new vendor. As they grow and evolve, these companies need to onboard a lot of vendors, and are looking for an effective process for that – one that ensures a vendor is checked and verified before being added to NetSuite, and prevents duplication and onboarding unneeded vendors. 

Those companies often set up a simple vendor request process in NetSuite, but even with this, most stakeholders are still not involved and can’t know which vendors are already onboarded with each subsidiary. The manual data entry and back and forth with the vendor is also a process our champion aims at automating.

Selecting a Complementary Tool to NetSuite Purchasing

As a result of those challenges, those companies are researching the procurement space to find the right tool to accompany their brand new NetSuite PO module. 

First of all, this tool needs to integrate with NetSuite and automatically create POs, and of course, provide users with flexibility on approvals. Additionally, it would be great if this tool could help with other procurement operations like vendor onboarding, marking goods received, and budget-vs-actual checks for approvers. 

We at Approve.com know those pains first hand, as we see a lot of those companies – usually fast-growing tech or service companies, that have many professional departments and are dealing with a lot of vendors to buy software, consultants, services and physical items. It is definitely difficult to manage those pre-PO processes in a system that is almost exclusively designed for finance people, such as NetSuite is.

However, tackling those issues early on will surely save those companies a lot of friction and time, and will make their processes way more streamlined. That’s because in those companies,  the part of the flow happening before the PO is raised is by far the part with the most stakeholders and where the actual big decisions happen – decisions to not buy something, changing the terms, renegotiating or sourcing – those things can only happen before the PO is raised, therefore getting this parts right is the first step of getting the procure-to-pay process on the right foot. 

It all starts with the purchase request – companies that work with Approve.com usually submit requests across a host of different systems – Emails, Spreadsheets, Slack, Jira. This makes the approval process a mess, and very easy to bypass. It’s also very frustrating for the requester, because they never know where their request is, hard for approvers to control their budget and their teams, and eventually the finance team has to do a lot of filing and changes on their ERP because of how messy the process is.

Approve.com – The Ultimate Addition to Your NetSuite Purchasing Process

Approve.com focuses on the user facing part of the procurement work – submitting a purchase request, getting it approved, onboarding a new vendor (which is always a parallel flow to submitting a purchase request) and then at the end of the flow, having the employee mark ‘goods received’. This is all in perfect sync with your source of truth, NetSuite.

The process on Approve.com can be broken down into 3 parts –

  1. First, the user submits a request – which is simply filling a short form. The goal of the flow is to capture the required information and to initiate the correct approval flow. If the user can’t find the vendor, they can initiate a parallel vendor onboarding process
  2. Once the approval flow is generated, approvers are notified one by one (via email and/or Slack). They view all the information, verify the need, and in Approve.com Pro subscriptions, can also view the budget vs actual from within the approval flow. Besides approving and rejecting, we also allow approvers to consult – a unique capability that allows adding out-of-flow approvers to the flow, allowing companies to deploy a structured and clear approval flow that still has the flexibility a fast company needs.
  3. Once the approval process is completed (meaning the last approver clicked the approve button), we automatically generate a PO in NetSuite. Companies can choose to open it in draft mode, and even can run another approval process on it, should their process demand it. Because the PO is a result of a requisition process in which all relevant stakeholders were involved and all fields were populated, there is no need for manual typing. Some companies choose our ‘Goods received’ capability to achieve a 3-way match.

Deploying Approve.com for NetSuite Customers

Deployment times for NetSuite customers are often less than 3 weeks, and are accompanied by a structured Gantt chart that specifies the process in full. 

Simply put, the process includes uploading data to Approve.com, integrating with NetSuite and your SSO, configuring the approval routing and forms, and running UAT. 

Based on our experience, we put an emphasis on change management and provide simple training materials, one-on-one demo sessions to important stakeholders and power users and post-launch hypercare.

Deploying a complete PO process will allow you to control the spend pipeline, providing you and your company with higher visibility, accountability, compliance, and early involvement, while reducing manual tasks and broken communication channels. 
You are about to make the purchasing process in your company much easier and faster for those needing to buy, while granting more control and involvement to those needing to approve.

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