When choosing an integration partner for NetSuite, there are a lot of things to consider. From their technical qualifications, to how well their team will mesh with yours, you’ll want to be sure you’ve found a company that you can build a long-term, mutually beneficial business partnership with. So, let’s look at what an integration Partner is, and dive into a few of the most important things for a company to consider when considering a NetSuite Integration Partner.
What is an integration partner?
An Integration Partner generally performs one or both of the following functions:
1. They work with the creators of a software to build integrations between that software and other platforms in order to expand the scope of the application as it is sold to customers.
2. They offer a collection of these integrations that they have built, along with custom integration services to companies who need help with connecting the software/systems that they are using internally.
If your business already uses NetSuite, you probably have a NetSuite Alliance Partner who manages your NetSuite implementation process and initial integrations. In many cases, your NetSuite Partner will be able to act as your primary integration partner, however, they will likely refer you to another company to assist in particular cases. If you’re not working with a NetSuite Partner who is providing you with ongoing support, you should start there.
A good NetSuite Partner will be able to offer services from initial implementation to ongoing support and customization, including integration services. They’ll know when more help is needed and be able to give recommendations on what companies you should talk to if you need an additional or different Integration Partner.
Now, if you’ve already been given a list of companies that provide the integration services you’re looking for, how do you know which one is the right fit for your business?
Double check for conflicts in scope
There are many different players in the NetSuite space, from Oracle NetSuite themselves, to various types of Certified NetSuite Partners, to 3rd party app developers, and freelance consultants…the list goes on and on, and there is overlap in the products and services offered. In general, the NetSuite space is a friendly and collaborative environment. However, before you go seeking out an Integration Partner, make sure you’re not already working with someone who offers the integration service you are looking for.
If there is overlap in the potential scope of work for two separate parties you work with, just make sure that expectations and roles within your project are clear, and you’ll be just fine!
Additionally, if you work with a NetSuite Partner who is implementing or customizing your NetSuite instance, they usually have integration partners that they already know and enjoy working with. So, it’s good to ask your NetSuite Partner for recommendations of potential Implementation Partners before you get too deep into your own research.
Ask what technologies they frequently work with
This is a big one. If NetSuite isn’t on that list of technologies they work with frequently, scratch them off your list of potential Partners. NetSuite is a very powerful and flexible system. It can be tailored to meet very specific business needs, but that also means it looks different in every business where it is implemented and can be very complex. Looking to implement an ecommerce solution with NetSuite? Your integration partner needs to have proven experience integrating your eCommerce platform with NetSuite ERP and any other needed platforms.
If you are looking to use SuiteCommerce or SCA (NetSuite’s eCommerce solutions), you need to work with an Oracle NetSuite Commerce Partner for the initial implementation and customizations before seeking out an additional integration partner.
Again, if you have been working with a NetSuite Partner who is familiar with your company’s NetSuite instance, they can likely point you towards a company they’ve worked with in the past who is experienced in working with the NetSuite customizations you’re looking for.
Look for industry-specific NetSuite experience
The technology space is enormous, and the application of integrations within that space is almost just as large. A partner will generally have significant experience in certain industries but lack experience in others. A clothing retailer and a software company may both use NetSuite, and they may both be seeking an integration partner for NetSuite.
However, the processes in those two industries vary greatly, and they will require completely different integrations. Even on the SuiteCommerce side of things, the needs of each of these companies are going to be very different. Remember that your integration partner should be able to recommend strategic steps for your business, and that will require industry-specific NetSuite experience.
Check number of available solutions
This is important to keep in mind whether you are looking for a partner to build an integration for your software, or are just looking for a partner who can provide a collection of prebuilt solutions. The number and variety of solutions an integration partner has available can either be an indicator of how much development experience their team has, or at least indicates that they have a good network of integration developers that they can tap into as they work to help your business find and build the right integrations.
For example, Pipe17 has a long list of connectors that are easy to install and update. These connectors span every area of business including ecommerce, ERP (including NetSuite), fulfillment, marketplaces, order and inventory management systems, point of sale, warehouse management systems, 3PLs and carriers, and other solutions that can help B2B and B2C companies alike. Having so many different solutions in so many different areas of business positions them well to meet a variety of integration needs for many different kinds of businesses.
Research their reputation
Investigate the reputation of this company in the industry. What are they known for, and how does that align with your business’ values and goals? Check to see what their competitors, customers, and other partners are saying about them. Are they highly rated by industry experts? What does their company culture look like, and will their team mesh well with yours on projects?
Keep it mutually beneficial
A partnership is much more than simply paying another company for a service. A partnership should be a longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship between businesses. It’s less of a trade, and more a joint effort towards a goal. Usually, this comes down to being able to tap into each other’s networks, and to refer customers to each other.
So, if your customer base looks totally different from the customer base of the company you’re looking to partner with, you either need to consider another partner, or think outside the box about how else you could collaborate long-term with this company.
More than anything, you just need to make sure that your integration partner will value and promote your business goals, and you in turn must value and promote theirs. If one company is pushing their own interests ahead of what’s best for their partner, things can get ugly quick.
Other questions to ask
We’ve covered some of the biggest things to watch out for, but there’s still more to consider before choosing an Integration Partner for NetSuite. Be sure to ask any potential Integration Partner the following questions as you work to determine if they are the right fit for your company:
- How long does the process take?
- Do you provide data migration or data cleaning services during the integration?
- How easily will your solution scale when we grow and add new systems?
- What type of ongoing support do you provide?
- What do you think we are overlooking?