At its SuiteWorld 2014 conference, NetSuite also announced the new services resource planning (SRP) solution, with the idea to bring together the enterprise resource planning (ERP) and professional services automation (PSA) capabilities to enable both project (time/services) and product-based businesses to run their bid-to-bill business life cycles. As the demarcation lines are becoming increasingly blurred between product and service companies, the intent here is to enable both kinds of businesses to modernize and transform operations the way manufacturing resource planning (MRP) did for manufacturing businesses in the 1990s.
In these businesses, traditional sales force automation (SFA) processes as part of the customer relationship management (CRM) realm do not work, as depicted in figure 1. PSA software addresses challenges of siloed info and inefficient resource management and allocation—but without the financial component, organizations cannot track profitability through their back-office financials.
Figure 1. CRM Not for Product & Services Companies
With NetSuite SRP, project- and product-based businesses have one cloud system to monitor the financial health of their organizations while also gaining real-time visibility into operational metrics (see figure 2). For those companies, NetSuite SRP supplies capabilities such as revenue recognition for diverse revenue streams, and unified billing across multi-model service and product delivery. New Project Management functionality includes project templates, task dependencies, and Gantt charts with baseline and critical path highlights. The new SRP release enables multi-model billing for service delivery across the services value chain, from fixed fee, milestone, to time-and-materials arrangements.
The availability of NetSuite SRP for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets gives “road-warrior” services professionals the ability to manage their time and expenses (T&E), as well as more flexibility to easily access and manage critical business information from their device of choice from any location in the world. The embedded social activities within the SRP suite help improve collaboration.
Figure 2. Next-generation SRP
NetSuite SRP is designed to meet the needs of a variety of vertical industries with project-based businesses such as advertising, marketing services, information technology (IT) services, and consulting. It also targets product-based businesses such as software companies with embedded services teams that deliver implementation and consulting services, or resellers of hardware supported by service offerings.
For software companies, NetSuite's SRP delivers project budgeting to manage and analyze project finances with advanced project accounting software, from bid preparation through T&E tracking to client billing and internal charge-back. There is also functionality to manage key drivers of a services business—revenue, billable utilization, profitability, and days sales outstanding (DSO)—while streamlining revenue recognition across subscription businesses, to schedule, calculate, and present accurate financial statements.
Advertising and marketing services companies facing a transformation in the industry with the shift to digital and fee- and performance-based revenue can take advantage of NetSuite SRP for complete job routing from procurement to client to legal approval. They can streamline project management, resource optimization, pitch-to-invoice, and other critical advertising and marketing business processes by optimizing quotes and staffing, increasing staff utilization, and enabling agility.
IT services and consulting companies must improve resource utilization and project profitability through assigning talent efficiently, developing more accurate quotes, and identifying areas for margin improvement. In addition, with the added power of the SuiteCloud Development platform, NetSuite SRP customers can customize the application for industry- or business-specific workflows and optimization, and those customizations carry forward automatically with every NetSuite upgrade. Figure 3 shows a more detailed list of major enhancements.
Figure 3. NetSuite SRP Feature Summary
Global services organizations have traditionally lacked the integrated business management tools necessary to truly manage corporate performance and avoid compliance risks and poor customer experience on a global basis. Spreadsheets and homegrown legacy systems offer an opaque view into subsidiaries and divisions, making it difficult to pinpoint unprofitable projects. Finding the right resource with availability to work on a project can be like finding a needle in a haystack, while gauging demand and backlog across geographies is also a guess at best.
The new NetSuite SRP suite addresses global businesses' needs by giving them real-time visibility, integrated financials, resource optimization, and services management from corporate to subsidiaries, down to the individual project level across geographies, currencies, and tax jurisdictions. NetSuite's well-known global capabilities (multi-currency management, built-in support for international tax, compliance, and sophisticated revenue recognition management) allow large management consulting firms to manage and monitor a global workforce, assigning resources across geographies and subsidiaries while maintaining one accounting system.
NetSuite still has a separate PSA product on a different cloud platform and with a vast install base, OpenAir, which it acquired several years ago (read article). That product, which competes with Deltek, FinancialForce PSA, Autotask, Tenrox, etc., will continue to be sold and maintained separately, and is aimed at pure service businesses. NetSuite SRP, which includes cherry-picked Open Air functionality, rewritten on the SuiteCloud and SuiteScript technologies (see figure 4), will be aimed for mix service-product business, as depicted above.
Figure 4. NetSuite SRP Project Dashboard