How Can CRM Implementation Boost Team Collaboration and Efficiency?

A well-implemented CRM serves as a central focal point for teamwork that enables collaboration, communication, and coordination among team members. It’s a platform that offers automation and workflows to streamline repetitive tasks and is a place that can boost sales and the customer experience all at once. Let’s examine how this incredible software enables teams to achieve success.

Fostering Teamwork

With a successful CRM implementation, users can easily collaborate on sales opportunities when they share insights and resources. This coordinated effort in selling helps team members leverage each other’s strengths and close deals more efficiently and effectively. When customer data is stored in a central hub, it’s easily shared, updates are made in real-time, and everyone is on the same page. Visibility into reports and other elements, such as communication history, helps teams hold each other accountable and facilitates teamwork. Synchronized data and shared interactions from various departments provide a 360-degree view of the company and its goals, thereby paving the way to successful outcomes.

 

CRM implementation fosters teamwork

Reducing Workload

Customized workflows within a CRM allow processes to fit specific needs, which promotes streamlined operations, automated tasks that are repetitive, and consistency across the board. This all contributes to a smaller workload. Teams have visibility into everyone’s activities and progress, and this transparency leaves everyone accountable for their actions, thereby improving teamwork. In a time when automation has become almost mandatory, automating certain steps will speed up processes and allow team members to focus on more important tasks. Employees are more productive when certain tasks are automated and when they have faster access to information, which is what CRM implementation can offer.

Shared Databases

A powerful CRM tool such as Salesforce can serve as a centralized database for company information like customer profiles, interactions with customers, history of purchases, and more. All users have access to the same real-time information, thereby ensuring they’re all on the same page and eliminating any confusion.

Task Management

CRMs feature task management capabilities, allowing users to assign tasks to each other with deadlines and progress tracking. This ensures that all involved know what needs to be done and by when, which boosts accountability and efficient processes.

Real-Time Communication

Throughout the CRM, users can easily communicate with each other by leaving comments, notes, and updates related to specific outcomes and customers, thereby fostering collaboration and keeping everyone in the loop. Streamlined communication can inspire teams to collaborate more efficiently and promotes a sense of community.

 

CRM implementation increases communication

Reporting, Data Analysis, and Insights

Analytics tools resulting from CRM implementation help users to track performance, identify trends and patterns, and make better, more data-driven decisions. Teams can better serve customers by targeting their efforts and optimizing their strategies. Without debriefs, teamwork is next to impossible. Robust reporting capabilities within a CRM are a big part of fostering teamwork and improving efficiency. Visibility into shared insights and promoting data transparency fosters a culture of collaboration that drives improved performance and customer experiences. Through reporting, inefficiencies are easily spotted and can be addressed together, too. Tracking progress in shared objectives helps to align efforts and see how everyone’s contributions are being implemented.

 

When executed properly, CRM implementation can significantly improve team collaboration within an organization. With data transparency, various teams are all on the same page, while sharing insights derived from reports allows for identifying opportunities, patterns, and trends that can then be expanded upon. A reduction in workload can boost morale and allow teams to focus on important goals, while real-time communication saves time and increases efficiency.

 

CRM reporting analytics

A Prime Example

A carbon-credit startup whose original CRM was Click-Up—a task management platform. Click-Up didn’t meet any requirements that the company needed from a sales perspective. They required a customer management system so they could have contacts, accounts, opportunities—and notes associated with those. Click-Up is a platform that works to monitor tasks and is not a repository for customer and sales data. It doesn’t give you the forecasting ability of a CRM, nor the ability to do trending, or give users the story behind anything. A CRM such as Salesforce allows users to see into deals and opportunities and gives you information such as who participated and who was responsible for each step. It answers questions such as, “How did we get here?”

 

The startup began to demonstrate that their sales were a lot more effective and really began to communicate with each other. They started to understand why they failed at certain opportunities and take lessons from those they won. They were also able to bring in other departments, such as marketing, which was not something they were able to do with Click-Up. Their velocity in bringing in more deals blew up, because marketing and sales were in step, in the same system. Their end-to-end reporting capability exposed their marketing funnel, and allowed them to see into each other’s progress, tracking, and conversions.

 

Collaboration between teams on a singular platform with one source of truth became the force behind their success.

 

Want to learn more about how your teams can benefit from CRM implementation? Contact us below, and we’ll walk you through it.

Your NetSuite Implementation Guide: A 7-Step Checklist

What’s involved in a NetSuite ERP implementation? Let’s dive into this complete checklist that will give you all the details you need to know before connecting with a NetSuite implementation partner.

What to expect from kick-off to go-live and beyond:

    • Requirements Gathering
    • System and Customization Design
    • System Configuration
    • System Testing
    • Training
    • Deployment, Preparation, and Go-Live
    • Support and Maintenance
 

Requirements Gathering for NetSuite Implementation

The first step is to discuss and lay out the business goals with your NetSuite implementation partners. What are you trying to solve? What are the ERP requirements of the various departments within the organization and the issues they have that they will need to address? A deep dive into the needs, along with the challenges and goals, is imperative to the discovery and assessment phase. Look at current workflows and processes and identify inefficiencies that can be addressed with NetSuite ERP.

 

Once you have identified the issues that need solving, clarifying which processes you’d like the ERP system to take responsibility for and the business goals the new system will need to support is next. It’s also vital to examine the current systems within the organization that are working or not working to help reach business goals and decide whether or not to keep them.

 

Part of the assessment process is to also identify the key stakeholders that will be involved in the implementation, including the leads of different departments. These stakeholders should be involved in this initial phase, as their input is invaluable. At this stage, it’s also time to identify what KPIs will need to be monitored, tracked, and optimized. At the end of this portion of the process, your team and NetSuite implementation partners should be able to clearly identify the objectives and results you expect to come out of deploying the new ERP.

 

Throughout the implementation process, ensuring that accurate and complete data is transferred to NetSuite is pivotal. Conducting a thorough check of current data and its integrity is critical, as well as identifying what needs to be moved. If data must be cleansed prior to migration, then organizations must complete this effort prior to any other step. Once data has been cleansed and validated and is free of errors and redundancies, developing a mapping strategy to align the old with the new system is necessary. Determining which data sets are necessary for operations should be prioritized for migration. Be sure that security and compliance measures are taken to protect any sensitive information during the data migration. Consider how the data will flow between systems after the migration and that these integration points are configured properly. Decide whether data will be migrated in phases or in one fell swoop based on needs and limitations.

 

Once all these determinations have been solidified, testing the migration process to identify issues before going live is essential. Validation of the data’s accuracy and the completion of the migration should be verified and reconciled. A backup and contingency plan should be implemented as well, in case of unexpected failures, and to address any risks or disruptions. All of these considerations should be taken into account to maximize the success of data migration into your new NetSuite ERP system.

netsuite requirements

System and Customization Design

After the discovery and assessment phase, a plan for customization should be next on the checklist. Customizations should be prioritized based on their impact on the business, availability of resources, and strategic significance. The focus should be on customizations that present the most value. Consideration for out-of-the-box functionality should be evaluated first, as those may already meet the needs of the organization without the need for customization. When considering customizations, scalability should be taken into account to ensure they’re flexible and can accommodate future growth without too much rework. Prior to deploying any customizations, thorough testing should be done to ensure they function properly.

System Configuration

This vital step in the ERP implementation process involves setting up items like language preferences, assigning user roles and permissions, and changing any default settings to meet the needs of the organization. Your partner will also help to optimize any database settings for performance, security, backup, and recovery. At this point, you may also integrate the ERP with other applications, depending on the various phases in which you agree. This stage also includes the implementation of any change management practices to minimize interruptions and manage any changes effectively.

System Testing

Evaluation and testing of your new NetSuite ERP’s functionality, performance, and reliability is to make sure it meets the needs of the organization. There are several types of tests to perform, including functional testing, which ensures that all works as intended. These can include data entry, transaction processing, and generating reports. Another phase involves testing the integrations with other applications to ensure that data smoothly flows from the ERP to the other systems. Performance testing, another phase, evaluates the responsiveness of the ERP, as well as its performance under different workloads. Testing the security is also vital to address any vulnerabilities and includes user authentication, data encryption, and more. You will also want to test the user interface and experience to ensure that layouts, navigation, and overall user satisfaction are up to par. Once this phase is completed, full deployment across the organization occurs.

netsuite system testing

Training

Training not only involves educating new employees on the system but also teaching those who will be training others. There should always be a set group of employees that will be responsible for training new employees on the system, so they need to be read in first. Multiple scheduled training sessions take place in order to completely familiarize users with the new system. This involves providing hands-on practice where users can interact with NetSuite in a simulated environment, ask questions, and get assistance as needed. Feedback is an important part of the process, as it identifies any areas of improvement as well as the effectiveness of the training sessions.

Deployment, Preparation, and Go-Live

At this stage, testing and training have been completed and all parties agree that the next phase is to go live with the implementation. Change management strategies have been implemented to help users adapt to the new processes and system. Detailed plans have been developed for the launch of NetSuite, including scheduling the actual go-live, identifying key stakeholders and support personnel, and outlining contingency plans for any issues that may arise.

 

netsuite deployment

Support and Maintenance

Your NetSuite implementation partner should offer support services long after going live so that you and your team can focus on the business. Support services can include anything from administrative to analytical and technical support, as well as operations and integration support. These services should be offered through various channels, such as via phone, email, or even web-based support portals. You should also ideally be assigned a dedicated support manager who will look after your needs and make sure that your ERP continues to run smoothly.

 

Now that we understand how the implementation of NetSuite is not merely a technical endeavor, we can see how strategy, meticulous planning, thorough communication, and comprehensive training play a role as well. By utilizing this checklist, you can be more confident in knowing what to expect from an astute NetSuite implementation partner and how they can help transform your business processes and thrive in today’s dynamic business landscape.

 

Caravel is an award-winning NetSuite Alliance Partner who has worked with over 750 clients in various industries ranging from small businesses to enterprise-level corporations. Interested in learning more? Contact us below, and let us show you how we can help.

 

Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of a Salesforce Implementation Partner

We sat down with Caravel’s Director of Salesforce Practice, Kevin Dimond, and Senior Salesforce Consultant, Kelsey Rafac, to get an insider’s perspective on the responsibilities, challenges, and successes of a Salesforce implementation partner. Discover what they had to say and how you can apply this valuable insight into your due diligence for a CRM implementation partner. 

What is a Salesforce Implementation Partner, and why do you need one?

A Salesforce implementation partner is there to guide you through best practices for optimal use of the software. From gathering your business requirements to turning them into the best solutions for your business, as well as optimizing them, your partner should be giving you recommendations on how Salesforce will help operate your business. In addition to the technical aspect, they should be reviewing your process—something that is vastly overlooked in CRM implementations. “Your Salesforce implementation partner not only provides you with technical help, but they offer you best practices with the software, which goes a long way to utilizing it properly,” says Kelsey Rafac, Senior Salesforce Consultant at Caravel. “They help with sales process, and finance process. Salesforce is a complicated ecosystem with many moving parts, and it’s difficult to know how to tailor it to your business and make it as efficient as possible.”

Kevin Dimond, Director of Salesforce Practice at Caravel, agreed with Rafac. He adds that a Salesforce Implementation Partner “should be your trusted advisor in the Salesforce ecosystem. They should be impartial to what Salesforce pushes and focus on the right choices for your organization. He continues by iterating, “Your partner will be your hands-on keyboard that will be helping your organization configure it to your needs. For instance, take Pardot. Many organizations choose to integrate the marketing automation system into Salesforce, but what they do not know is that if they ever decide to change systems, Pardot can never be removed. It can be turned off but can never be removed.” It’s use cases like these that he has seen throughout his career, where users make grave mistakes trying to configure Salesforce without knowing specific implications, that can leave you with technical debt.

salesforce implementation partner


What can a Salesforce implementation partner do for an organization as a whole?

Salesforce should be about adding business value to organizations. Many organizations are siloed in the way they track their business; therefore, having a Salesforce implementation partner come in and establish it as a single source of truth is tantamount. Rafac says, “It should be built out so all users can go into one place and see how the company is performing, whether it’s in the opportunity pipeline or how many cases need to be worked. Having everything in one place makes operations more effective and efficient and really gives back to the business.” Implementing Salesforce can potentially add to more revenue growth and quicker case closure.

Your Salesforce consultant may also collaborate with leadership to develop strategies and roadmaps to leverage the software to drive growth, improve customer experience, and achieve other KPIs. They can also assist in ensuring that Salesforce helps to comply with regulatory requirements and security standards that mitigate risk and protect sensitive information.


What are the challenges you can face with implementing Salesforce on your own?

Some in-house implementations can be successful, but it must be done with someone who has previously implemented Salesforce and succeeded. “The last thing you want is to accumulate technical debt…sometimes, when you’re implementing, you don’t see the forest through the trees. You stay focused on the one problem you’re trying to solve without taking a step back and thinking about the implications. And unfortunately, in the Salesforce ecosystem, there are many implications,” says Dimond.

Although Salesforce can be set up “out of the box”, not being aware of best practices and optimal usage can cause some issues down the line. Organizations can incur technical debt, which results from taking shortcuts instead of implementing tasks the right way the first time. By doing this, Salesforce is not being utilized optimally, and elements like unused workflows lingering in the background and other underutilized features can take up unnecessary space.

Another thing to consider is improper data migration. Transferring data from other systems into Salesforce is complicated, and without a proper understanding of data structures and mapping, you’re taking unnecessary risks. Going at it alone can also lead to incomplete customization, as some aren’t aware of Salesforce’s full capabilities, which may lead to using a system that doesn’t fully meet the needs of the business. Without a Salesforce consultant, you will lack adequate training and ongoing support, and you can take security risks that can otherwise be avoided.

salesforce crm

What are the strategic steps you take to ensure that CRM implementation goes smoothly?

Beginning with a structured plan is first and foremost. A Salesforce implementation partner must have a solid methodology. Some partners will utilize agile methodology to see quick turnarounds with the work they’re doing for an organization. The process typically begins with requirements gathering and scoping, which is distilled into a business requirements document. It’s important that your partner hones in on your business challenges and finds ways in Salesforce to optimize those challenges. Rafac explains that their goal should be to relieve “any pain points you’re having.”

Once requirements gathering is complete, the partner should walk through everything to make sure you’re still on the same page. This time is a great opportunity for organizations to truly commit or adjust what they want and need. Things that should be discussed include any integrations with existing systems, customization, and data migration.

Once there’s an agreement, your partner should start configuring Salesforce in a “sandbox” to demonstrate and show you and your team what it will look like live. From there, you can make more adjustments. Your partner should maintain constant check-ins with you.

Project timelines are dependent on customization and what the organization is looking to accomplish. They can take anywhere from 3–6 months, if the organization is truly on top of what they’re doing. Pilot testing with a small group of users is also part of the process that identifies any issues or areas for improvement before rolling out to the entire organization. Performance monitoring and optimization are continuous during this phase, and here, you’re still gathering additional feedback to ensure you’re always improving efficiency and effectiveness.

End-user training is also part of the strategic steps taken to ensure a successful implementation. Your Salesforce consultant should train SMEs and sometimes all end users and provide documentation as well. Your Salesforce consultant should take this time to answer questions and provide further training, if necessary.

What should you look for in a Salesforce implementation partner?

According to Kevin Dimond, “A Salesforce partner should be one that understands the end-to-end process and the lead-to-cash process.” They should be helping their client service their customers as fast as possible before their competition does. They should be examined by their effectiveness, turnaround time, structured methodology, and knowledgeable consultants. Your partner should be going above and beyond with communication to your organization and be available when you need them to answer questions.

salesforce CRM implementation

What defines a successful implementation of Salesforce?

A successful implementation means that value has been added to the business; they should be operating better, more efficiently with optimized processes and performance. “Simply put, return on investment; showing the work you put into it is generating revenue on day one,”  reveals Dimond.  He explains that a CRM should never be a cost center, it should be a revenue center; you should be generating money from it. User adoption is another important aspect of a successful implementation.  

Part of a successful implementation means that employees are trained and ready to work the system. if users are not effectively using the platform, it will not deliver on its full potential benefits. Ongoing support is crucial as well, as continuous improvement and optimization cannot happen in a vacuum.

Success should be measurable, and the impact on KPIs should be regularly monitored and evaluated. Some metrics can include sales productivity, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth, as mentioned above.

Overall, a Salesforce implementation partner plays a crucial role in in aiding an organization to maximize the benefits of Salesforce, driving efficiency, innovation, and growth across the organization. It is with this hands-on experience and approach that organizations can truly benefit from Salesforce.

If you’re looking for help to either implement or optimize your Salesforce ecosystem, please get in touch with the experts at Caravel below.

What Does a CRM Do? An Effective Guide to Enhancing Customer Experience

According to WebFX, 87% of businesses use cloud-based CRM platforms, and 73% of customers express that their experience is a vital factor in purchasing decisions. A positive customer experience leads to repeat business, positive referrals, and an increased lifetime value. These experiences also influence the perception of an organization and can have long-term effects on its success. Investing in a solid Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help make or break an organization’s customer experience, thereby affecting revenue and profits.


A good CRM is a powerful tool used to engage customers, track and analyze their interactions with your organization, automate campaigns, manage your sales leads, and boost relationships. When implemented correctly, an effective CRM will improve your sales and retain customers by enhancing their experience with your organization.


Now that we are fully aware of how powerful a CRM is, let’s examine and answer some common questions circulating the customer experience and what a CRM can do to help.


CRM for Customer Data Management

 

Customer data management is the process of collecting, managing, and analyzing customer data. With complete and consistent data within a cloud-based CRM, organizations can learn more about their individual customers and can better provide relevant information that leads to customer retention. “Given that a CRM [such as Salesforce] is cloud-based, it allows users to access that data from anywhere, even on the go on their phone,” says Max Holton, Salesforce Solutions Architect at Caravel. He adds, “It’s all being stored and updated in real-time. So, wherever you are, you always have the most updated information on your customer.”


Customer data can include demographic information, work histories, email addresses, names, phone numbers, and more. The more organizations learn about the customer, the more thorough the data is and the better they can target that customer. This personalization strategy is what customers have come to expect in their purchasing journey. Personalizing communication can lead to an increase in conversion rate and business growth; it can improve analytics and the accuracy of forecasting and can, of course, enhance the customer experience. Holton also iterates, “CRM can be structured to collect data points that are not only important to your customer, but important to your business. You can create fields to collect important customer data or collect specific operational data points to report on Key Performance Indicators [KPIs].” This feature allows users to better extract information from the customer that becomes useful to them later in the purchase process and enables them to sell more efficiently.


CRM data management

 

CRM and Automated Processes

An effective CRM can automate certain processes for marketing, sales, and customer service efforts that can catapult engagement and communication. This smart function eliminates repetitive processes like manual data entry, saving time so they can focus on activities of higher value such as building relationships, generating and nurturing leads, and converting contacts into customers. These automated processes allow for more attentive customer service and support, allows the team to quickly respond to requests, and can help organizations communicate across multiple channels. This consistent and relevant communication leads to customer retention and a better customer experience.

“Automated processes enable faster time-to-value for the customer and for the business. The faster the business can service the customer, the greater the customer satisfaction. By eliminating manual processes, you’re minimizing human error, you’re expediting process, and removing bottlenecks so the whole process is more fluid, data is more accurate, and you’re getting the customer in the door, quoted, and delivering your product faster and more efficiently,” explains Holton.


CRM automation can also provide users with valuable insights that helps them better understand customer behavior, preferences, and trends. This enables more targeted and personalized campaigns, which result in a much-improved customer engagement rate and conversion rate. Automation in a CRM also helps to boost relationships with customers by tracking interactions, thereby enhancing the experience and empowering users to be more efficient, effective, and customer-centric in their efforts.


What Does a CRM do for Customer Segmentation?

A powerful CRM will allow its users to segment customers based on specific data points and provide more relevant messaging to those with diverse interests and needs. This will, in turn, improve sales and revenue, customer satisfaction, and the overall experience they have with your organization.


Targeting potential customers based on their preferences and behaviors is impactful. Segmenting lists augments the ability to create a more personalized campaign and creates a more effective way to track the effectiveness of a campaign or even a specific message. The organization can then re-focus its efforts based on results from testing these customer segments and establishing better and more meaningful relationships. “Companies only have a certain amount of salespeople or account managers, and with that, only a certain amount of bandwidth and human hours. By segmenting your customer, you can better allocate your internal resources and maximize that value. Avoid wasting internal resources on segments that are not generating value,” says Holton.


CRM customer segmentation

 

The Power of Customer Feedback Through a CRM

One of the most valuable tools an organization uses to improve and enhance processes is customer feedback. An effective CRM will help collect and analyze that feedback from numerous channels including surveys, reviews, and social media and provide insights into their preferences and needs. It can help identify trends and patterns and allow users to make more data-driven business decisions, improve products and services, and enhance the overall customer experience. Through dashboards and reports, organizations can better visualize the customer profile, and improve communication, satisfaction, and loyalty.

How a CRM Empowers Customer Service

What does a CRM do for customer service? A CRM offers immediate access to any and every interaction a customer has with a company. This includes any historical information, past and present purchases, as well as any communications. This valuable information allows for better customer service, as users can instantly retrieve what they need to help. Users will immediately know who they are communicating with, as the CRM can provide a complete view of the customer. This allows for a faster response time and results in better customer satisfaction.


The companies that we see that have a full front-to-end CRM application that do not have their business process and data spread out across multiple platforms – which leads to unclean, inaccurate, and duplicated data – are the most successful as it pertains to customer service. Salesforce, for instance, allows the user to have all data, sales, and customer experience efforts in one place in the cloud. This allows for one customer record being updated in real-time so when you do get to the point where you need to service that customer with a case, you have all that data in one place at your fingertips that is reportable and allows you to better service the customer,” explains Holton.


CRM customer service

 

How Does AI in CRM Help Boost the Customer Experience?

A strong CRM will adapt conversational AI into its platform to help users better understand company and customer data. AI empowers CRM users to quickly update information about customers from anywhere including their mobile devices, helps to surface answers about customers more swiftly, and allows cross-functional teams to collaborate better. Salesforce AI, for instance, allows companies to tailor promotions based on customer segments, which is powered by the company’s data. The AI is constantly learning based on the user’s intent, which helps to connect with customers faster, more efficiently, and more precisely. AI can help boost productivity and personalization, effectively making the customer experience more impactful.


When organizations implement a robust CRM into their daily activities, they’re committing to the customer. They’re collecting and managing customer data while automating their processes and personalizing communications. Effectively, these organizations are saving time and money while offering a better customer experience because they’re employing the right technology that will prove its worth as the brand grows and the customer remains loyal.


Caravel views CRM systems such as Salesforce as an enabler of better business and customer care. We advise our clients through a proven, successful implementation strategy that allows for flexibility and change. Through proper support and optimization, we help clients refine their Salesforce configuration and match it to their continuously evolving business model. Want to learn more? Contact us below.

The NetSuite 2023.2 Quick Guide

Author: Tom Pearce Sales Marketing Coordinator


NetSuite is releasing their newest update called NetSuite 2023.2 for the beginning of Autumn, much like the 2023.1 update they released at the beginning of the year, NetSuite 2023.2 is full of new ways to improve your business processes and improve user experience and adoption. At Caravel, we wanted to provide a targeted summary on what new features NetSuite is bringing to its users, if you want to learn more, we highly encourage you to look at the full release notes available to you in your NetSuite portal home screen. If this makes you eager to start with NetSuite 2023.2, please reach out to your Project Manager.

Striving for Warehouse and Manufacturing Efficiency:

NetSuite understands that the strain on supply, and the effect it has on fulfilling customer demand has not wavered at all. With NetSuite 2023.2 release, NetSuite is making their user’s warehouse and manufacturing management even more accessible. NetSuite has updated its mobile application offerings, improving warehouse speed and accuracy with Smart Count barcode scanning, both of which can save you on shipping and more!


The NetSuite 2023.2 release has provided users of the Supply Chain Management (SCM) app with huge updates to its user experience. They have made the navigation smoother and focused on making it user-friendly by simplifying roll changes and allowing user preferences. The update also streamlines the NetSuite Warehouse Management App. Allowing supervisors the expedience in reassigning employees, custom picking orders, and more to help reduce friction in your warehouse on both the supervisor and picker levels.


To help users save money with shipping NetSuite is making it possible to use NetSuite Ship Central to shop for the best rates, create return labels, calculate cost based on weight, and more. Just like the SCM app, user experience is improving for shipping as well allowing for user preferences, workflows, and more automation for customers using Shopify and Amazon. The NetSuite Connector is bringing users the capability to eliminate manual reconciliation for Shopify and Amazon. Users can also sync shipping services that are purchased from Amazon to NetSuite thus simplifying order fulfillment and reducing costs.


Learn more about how the 2023.2 update can improve your warehouse and manufacturing here.

Improving Your Employee Experience and Confidence:

With a tool like NetSuite, it is easy to get lost in all its capabilities and functions. Having to search for solutions, look at notes, or any other way users might help themselves navigate NetSuite slows down the processes and causes interruptions throughout the day. NetSuite 2023.2 aims to eliminate the pause in work to look up a “how to” guide and have implemented NetSuite Guided Learning. The NetSuite Guided Learning experience was built with a focus on streamlining user experience and eLearning. NetSuite Guided Learning now offers users visual walk-throughs, step-by-step guidance, progress tracking and self-managed learning tailored to the users’ roles.

Learn more from NetSuite here.



There’s no denying the importance of data in today’s business environment. Shifting costs, volatile economic conditions, and intense competition necessitate data-driven insights. Yet, many companies encounter roadblocks when it comes to making data usable.


Operational and Financial Focus:

Improving efficiency to reduce business spending while seeing an increase in productivity and growth is one common goal for businesses. NetSuite understands this and NetSuite 2023.2 is providing you with the tools to achieve this. Some of what NetSuite 2023.2 is doing to reach that goal is increasing its use of automation, reducing tedious tasks, and making bill paying simpler.


NetSuite states that the automation in their NetSuite Account Reconciliation tool “automates the entire reconciliation process for the general ledger including intercompany transactions, accounts receivable (AR) and payable (AP), bank and credit card transactions, accruals and fixed assets accounts, and other balance sheet accounts”. This will completely remove the need to pull and makes sense of data from multiple sources manually. With machine learning and NetSuite’s auto-match engine users will be able to have millions of transactions matched in minutes and accounting teams will only need to focus on the exceptions, high-risk, and strategic tasks.

NetSuite is also making updates to the NetSuite Bill Capture, Vendor Invoice Distribution SuiteApp, and NetSuite AP Automation to reduce the workload for accounts payable teams. Users will be able to lean on the machine learning in the NetSuite Bill Capture feature to organize expenses based on past bills and will provide recommended subsidiaries. Teams will be able to expedite the bill-paying process by allowing for batched approvals with the Payment Approval Routing now offered in the NetSuite AP Automation. Also, if you have teams that need to share costs now the Vendor Invoice Distribution SuiteApp allows them to simply distribute costs by percentages or amounts and once the distribution is completed, the SuiteApp automatically creates the needed entries.


There is much more to see about this update here.


This is just the surface of what NetSuite is offering in the NetSuite 2023.2 update. To learn more, you can look here or on your NetSuite environment home page. We at Caravel are excited for these updates to be implemented. We are also always ready to talk you through what and how integrating these can improve your business.


The NetSuite 2023.1 Quick Guide

Author: Tom Pearce Sales Marketing Coordinator

We are past the start of the new year, which means we are finding our footing and life is moving back to normal. This also means there are some very exciting new opportunities on the horizon for us to present to you, and NetSuite has already delivered on one of them.


NetSuite is kicking off the new year by showing us several updates to improve business processes already. They have brought out the sneak peak of NetSuite 2023.1, and we at Caravel are excited to break down the highlights and explain what you can expect us to be implementing this year. If you want to learn more about any of the following, feel free to check the home screen of your NetSuite portal. Learn how to start with the 2023.1 update by reaching out to your Project Manager.


With improved CRM, CPQ, inventory management, data-based recommendations, and more, this first update of 2023 is packed with new tools for your business.

Improving Personnel Management:

NetSuite’s 2023.1 brings with it several tools that will improve tracking productivity while alleviating some of the stress of adjusting wages. Your team can now automate wage calculations with a NetSuite Payroll integration, allowing you to easily capture schedules and adjust wages based on a more accurate review of hours worked.


Utilizing this feature will also open more opportunities to improve customer satisfaction. You will be able to track workforce insights—such as sales data—to learn and follow trends to guarantee you have the scheduled staff to ensure customer satisfaction.


Another interesting element is a more complex employee time tracker. NetSuite explains that this will be beneficial for industries that need to track employee time more specifically. For example, it can track how much time an employee in an office setting puts toward projects and clients, or how much time an employee in a driving industry is traveling before their mandatory rest period. Employees will be able to easily adjust their status and have it accurately tracked to make billing easier, as well as maintaining safety regulations for truck drivers. NetSuite has an article that breaks down more of the impressive opportunities with this tool here.


Simplified Financials:

In the NetSuite 2023.1 update, vendor billing will be simplified by applying automation. NetSuite AP Automation is a new feature that allows you to upload your vendor bills with an email to NetSuite to be processed automatically. Then, a digital version is created and all the important details (vendor name, PO number, items ordered, quantity, pricing, etc.) are populated and matched to the correct purchase order.


If you offer subscription-based services to your customers, this release permits you to easily adjust and plan for percentage changes to apply to any of your subscribers. Learn more about these and some other interesting new features for rebates, nonprofits, and more here.

Warehouse and Shipping Efficiency:

The new NetSuite Ship Central is going to save your warehouse employees time and money. This update allows your warehouses to track if there are multiple orders going to one customer, consolidate, and efficiently ship the orders, thus reducing the number of shipments to a single location. It can even help you improve your order picking process.


With the NetSuite Warehouse Management System update, you can even section your warehouse into zones and allow multiple employees to pick order items based on zones, then pool items together for packing. Teams will be able to easily mark orders as partial or complete while also tracking empty bins or damaged goods in their sections to expedite restocking. There are some other very helpful updates for warehouse teams like improved smart counts and reports that you can read about here.


Improving Your Customers Experiences on Multiple Levels:

Utilizing the NetSuite 2023.1 update aims to not only improve your internal business processes but also to assure you are providing your customers and end users with the best service possible. With improved CRM, CPQ, inventory management, data-based recommendations, and more, this first update of 2023 is packed with new tools for your business. We can’t wait to help you learn and implement these features to help expand and optimize your business. To start, reach out to your project manager. If you haven’t started with Caravel yet and want to learn more about how we can help integrate these new features to serve your business, we are always ready to talk.


The Dos and Don’ts of Performance and Optimization Inside NetSuite

Author: Luke Pirtle, Director of IP Development

Overview

Performance inside NetSuite is usually done incorrectly due to misunderstandings on where to optimize, what to optimize, how to optimize it, and what NOT to optimize.

There are numerous statements and definitions of good code all over the internet written by various people with varying credentials. Most definitions bear a resemblance to the following.

The code must be:
• Readable
• Scalable
• Testable
• Fail Gracefully
• Easily Extendable
• Reusable

The biggest takeaway from this list is that performance is toward the end of the list. A few will even mention avoiding premature optimization, stating it’s harmful. It cannot be overstated that quality code is not the fastest-running code; rather, quality code follows the tenets above. If a solution is 10x faster but has intermittent errors and doesn’t indicate when it fails, you’ll end up with a client who is upset because their integration has been turned off for a month without any notice.

Performance should be considered but only after the other tenets are addressed. Typically, it’s also an afterthought and should only be done if requested. Rarely is there an issue with a solution being “too slow,” so there is no reason to risk the possibility of a bug or client escalation due to an unsolicited update. Before optimizing, always write good quality code.

Optimization: Breakout and Isolate

What needs to be optimized is commonly misunderstood. The first step in optimization is breakout and benchmarking to identify what needs to be prioritized. Developers typically want to create cool, clever solutions and use this as an excuse to theorize what needs an upgrade instead of investigating further. It can lead to severely overcomplicated data structures and algorithms because it’s fun, versus doing the legwork that will produce tangible results.

For example, I once had a solution that took mere seconds to commit a line on a sales order but was a painful UX experience. I optimized it with bulk searches and async calls and made it as streamlined as possible. Then, I discovered that my solution had never taken more than 0.1 – 0.2 seconds to run on average. The slowdown was due to the absurd number (over 250) of custom fields that were on the transaction line with over 25% being list / record fields. The system needed to work with those extra columns and references and that was taking 95% of the time needed to commit.

I had only shaved off tenths of a second at most and spent a week or two in the weeds. Testing the same pre-optimized code base on a standard form without these fields resulted in instantaneous performance. Without my investigation, the solution could never have taken less than the 2 seconds I started with. I was fighting an unwinnable battle. I only did this analysis at the end when I ran out of ideas on how to increase performance further. You need to start with the low hanging fruit and work your way up the tree. There are times you’ll need to climb all the way up to the top, but typically you can make quick and easy changes to optimize solutions to an acceptable range.

What to Optimize

HTTPS Requests and Network Calls

Computers are fast and have been for a while. For a frame of reference—CPUs are rated in GHz which is measured as instructions/seconds. This means a 1 gigahertz (GHz) computer completes a billion clock cycles per second. However, HTTPS have an actual physical distance to travel and when you make a request it drastically slows things down.

Numerous strategies and caches are used by ISPs and data engineers to mitigate the number of calls and distance required for calls, but there is always a physical distance slowdown. HTTPS calls usually take 1.5 seconds on average and lines of code execute in less than a millisecond. HTTPS calls should be consolidated and minimized. It is far “cheaper” and more efficient to do client-side computations rather than multiple HTTPS calls. Bulk operations should be performed as well. For a simple analogue, consider going to the grocery store several times throughout the day for each ingredient versus going with a list and getting it all at once.

Optimization Tips:
• Try to consolidate multiple calls to external resources.
• Use Async calls, when possible, to unblock the CPU while these are working.
• Avoid unnecessary calls by removing any relics from your code.
• Use caching methodology and keep local copies of values and files when possible and only look them up when necessary.

API Calls

Most API calls in NetSuite initiate a request to the server, perform a database operation, or utilize some internal resource on their network. These requests are optimized and travel shorter distances but have the same detriments as the HTTPS calls mentioned above. Every search, query, record load, file saved, etc. makes a call to a server or database and should be minimized or consolidated in bulk.


Optimization Tips:
• Don’t use database operations unless you need them. Record.load should only be used if you are going to write to the record or get something only available by loading a record. Use the search module instead.
• Prioritize bulk searches. If you have to look up a value for each line on a transaction, identify all elements up front and run a search to get them all at once.
• Remove debugging logs from scripts once you have a working solution. Rather than removing all logs, keep the logs informative and useful by removing the “Got here” and spot check variable logs.
• Modify log levels when not debugging. Turn a script from “debug” to “audit” or “error” to prevent log noise and increase performance.

CSV

CSV import is a robust, simple, and very performant operation for updating and creating records in NetSuite. You can multithread imports, have them run on multiple queues, and disable scripts and workflows if you don’t need them. They can be manually used by non-functional resources but also triggered from server-side scripts for complex automations. You don’t have as much control over the logic as you do with a script, but it’s usually not required for bulk operations or can be done beforehand.

Optimization Tips:

  • SuiteCloud + Licenses are key. If you have 0 licenses, you have 1 thread and 1 queue for the entire account. If you have 1 license, you have 2 threads and 5 queues which is roughly 10x the speed. SuiteCloud + licenses can be prohibitively costly, so design after you take this into consideration.
  • Use CSVs whenever possible. They are easy to setup, faster to execute than suite script, and provide built-in error handling. Developers tend to always favor scripts but the performance and simplicity of CSVs can’t be denied. Use the best tool for the job.

Map / Reduce for Multithreading

The Map/Reduce design pattern is powerful. However, developers usually just need a multithreading option and skip the map or reduce stage. Typically, the biggest slowdown / process intensive tasks are running a search, saving records, and network requests. Multithreading these elements scales down the highest latency code in your script, saving you precious time.


Optimization Tips:

• SuiteCloud + Licenses are key. If you have 0 licenses, you have 2 SuiteCloud Processors for the entire account. If you have 1 license, you have 5 threads with 5 time the speed. SuiteCloud + licenses can be prohibitively costly so design after you take this into consideration.

• Prefetch static values (meta data for queues)

• Break out searches if they are large and complicated. If possible, chunk out search pages to the map stage and run them there to multithread your search. This also prevents timeouts for large or complex searches.

  • Break out API calls into separate threads to multithread the most impacting part of development.

What NOT to Optimize

Anything at the JavaScript level, you do not need to optimize. You should not be trying to augment NetSuite code like Google or Apple. I can imagine the developers who use binary trees and layers of typescript screaming right now, but if you use binary trees in JavaScript and with NetSuite you are doing it wrong. There is no room for preference or subjectivity. This is the truth specifically for the NetSuite ecosystem due to its size and typical use cases. NetSuite’s core demographic is small to medium sized businesses and an enterprise level client here and there. This business model and demographic does NOT benefit from micro optimizations that can save milliseconds over millions of computations by leveraging advanced data structures and algorithms. If you are struggling that much you are on the wrong system or need to simplify your process.

  • Google developers deal with billions of search results, while NetSuite searches are capped at 10,000 data results.
  • Google deals with C++, Java, and Python. NetSuite uses a Java Virtual Machine to run JavaScript on an ECMA standard.
  • Micro optimizations are usually dependent on low-level understanding of processors, registries, and datatypes. JavaScript can’t do any of that because it only has one datatype for numbers and its “float.” JavaScript also can’t add correctly, which is why you will see gems like the screenshot below:

Typically, the overhead from advanced data structures and algorithms isn’t even realized until you get to large datasets that exceed the usual 10,000 elements. In JavaScript, sometimes this never happens. It’s actually harmful in the NetSuite ecosystem by adding extra overhead, test cases, and complexity, and it provides no benefit. Take a look at the example below using a benchmarking tool I created:

I wanted to know which array operation was faster in NetSuite. I had a Suitelet run both examples 100,000 times each and received the following results: 255ms vs 117ms.

I was able to run an entire benchmark of 100,000 iterations for both unit tests in significantly less time than a single average HTTPS request (1500ms).

Now, watch when I add a single log into this operation:

Twelve whole seconds versus the 0.152 seconds because I added a single log to each iteration.

Javascript code is fast, network request and API calls are not—use this information as best you can. Don’t overcomplicate your JavaScript; if you want to optimize performance, you can have much more impact by removing unnecessary logs first.

The strategy should not be how to implement a hashmap or binary search into your code to make things lightning fast, it should be how to implement these things to make better quality code. These features aren’t taboo, but rather their misuse is. I do not have a pet peeve against complex code—I write a lot of crazy Map / Reduce scripts and have even used classes on more than one occasion. The difference is I used a class because the data structures were polymorphic and benefited from the approach. Code can be basic and complicated as long as the complexity is not driven from a misguided attempt at optimization.

Advanced Archive File Manipulation In SuiteScript

Author: Luke Pirtle, Director of IP Development

Overview:

This guide is technical in nature and details how to successfully unzip any archive file or folder inside of NetSuite and store the results in the file cabinet without the use of a middleware. While the compress module exists it is not sufficient for heavy lifting and this solution can resolve many use cases not supported by the official module.

Background:

When it comes to unzipping files most languages such as C++, Python, .NET, it’s mostly an afterthought. Even JavaScript can unzip files as numerous libraries exist but it’s not always straight forward to use most Node.js libraries inside the NetSuite ecosystem. The challenge is getting a library that works in the SuiteScript AMD module loader with minimal polyfill functions that doesn’t use ECMA script exceeding your current SuiteScript standard.

Due to these limitations the best solution is to add a middleware or redesign things completely. However, I recently ran into an unavoidable use case and neither was a satisfactory path. After extensive research and testing I’ve found a lightweight no hassle solution to work with archived files / folders. At some point NetSuite might release updates to the compress rendering this unnecessary but until then this should address these issues

Solution:

he solution is simply the impressive JSZip library but getting the library to work in NetSuite is not simple
https://stuk.github.io/jszip/

Version:

This is the key and most important piece. The current version of the JSZip library is 3.X and utilizes some impressive asynchronous functions and patterns for better performance. Despite trying every syntax and asynchronous method this new version is incompatible with the ECMAScript standard and NetSuite configuration in SuiteScript. Every permutation will eventually break right before reading the file contents.

However, the 2.7 version works and doesn’t include the asynchronous components. This stripped down version has all the capabilities without the unnecessary advanced asynchronous features and is fully compatible with the 2.1 SuiteScript ECMA script configuration.

Loading the module in a Suitelet:

NetSuite uses an AMD (Asynchronous Module Definition) loader. This is the biggest hindrance in getting Node.js modules to work. Fortunately, JSZip has a minified singular file that can be dropped into NetSuite. Below I detail how I load the module but I’ve also included the author’s notes on how it’s loaded in the system to give a full picture of what is happening.

Working with 2.7

I have the minified JSZip file in my project library folder and below demonstrate how to load it.

This allows the creation of new JSZip Instances to work with archives. With this configuration, the issue is much more straight forward now as we only have to write code. Sample code is detailed further down and documentation on the older version can be seen in their upgrade guide linked below
https://stuk.github.io/jszip/documentation/upgrade_guide.html

Sample Code

This solution below loads an archive file which is a folder with ~numerous files of differing types and is an excellent example. The code reads the archive file using the N/file module, then it iterates through each file and then creates a corresponding file in the file cabinet.

In my code snippet above you’ll notice the references to base64, this is because NetSuite uses base64 for essentially everything non-plaintext and files are no exception. Fortunately JSZip can handle this. Grab the contents of your archive file via N/file use the “getContents()” method to return the base64 content of the archive file. Drop that into the JSZip initialization (line 64) with the base64 argument set and now you have a valid JSZip Archive instance object loaded via SuiteScript. To create files you’ll simply need to iterate through the files subobject and then run the JSZip “file” method to read the contents. When creating files in NetSuite you’ll need to once again consider base64. Text is needed for text files and Base64 for anything else. To determine what is needed, look at the file extension. Once you have encoded your file simply save it and you now have a file committed to the file cabinet. Below I have a text reference for copying and utilizing in your own solutions.

Plaintext Reference for (Ctrl + C):

let extensionMapping = {
    'XML': file.Type.XMLDOC,
    'html': file.Type.HTMLDOC,
    'PDF': file.Type.PDF,
    'JPG': file.Type.JPGIMAGE,
    'BMP': file.Type.BMPIMAGE,
    'xlsx': file.Type.EXCEL,
    'txt': file.Type.PLAINTEXT,
    'json': file.Type.JSON
};

let plainTextTypes = [
    file.Type.CSV,
    file.Type.XMLDOC,
    file.Type.HTMLDOC,
    file.Type.PLAINTEXT,
    file.Type.JSON
];

let archiveFile = 57163;
let archiveFolder = 56852;
let xactimateTestArchiveTargetFolder = 2510;

let zipFileObj = file.load(archiveFolder);
let bin = zipFileObj.getContents();

var ZipInstance = new JSZip(bin , {base64: true});
for (let fullPathFileName in ZipInstance.files){
    if (fullPathFileName.indexOf('.' !== -1)){
        let fileName = fullPathFileName.split('/').pop();
        let fileExt = fileName.substring(fileName.lastIndexOf('.') + 1).toUpperCase();
        let netsuiteExt = extensionMapping[fileExt];
        log.debug({title:`File to ${ netsuiteExt ? 'Create' : 'Ignore' }`, details:`FileName: ${fullPathFileName}, fileType:${fileExt}, NetSuiteType: ${netsuiteExt}`});
        if (netsuiteExt){
            let data =ZipInstance.file(fullPathFileName).asBinary();
            if (plainTextTypes.includes(netsuiteExt) === false){
                data = JSZip.base64.encode(data);
            }

            let zippedFile = file.create({
                name:fileName,
                folder:xactimateTestArchiveTargetFolder,
                contents:data,
                fileType:netsuiteExt
            });
            zippedFile.save();
        }

    }

}

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