What is Netsuite and How Does it Work?

In today's fast-paced business environment, efficient management of operations, finances, and customer relationships is paramount. Business management software plays a crucial role in streamlining these processes, ensuring that organisations can operate seamlessly, make informed decisions, and stay competitive. 

By integrating various business functions into a single platform, these software solutions reduce manual tasks, minimise errors, and provide real-time insights.  This software can also significantly reduce IT costs with up to 70% savings compared with the traditional IT costs associated with running bespoke, IT hardware and software.

Among the myriad of business management software available, NetSuite stands out as a premier choice for many charities, with over 2,800 non-profits trusting the charity finance software. 

Recognized for its comprehensive suite of tools and cloud-based approach, NetSuite caters to a wide range of industries, offering solutions that are both scalable and customizable. This guide is an excellent primer and roadmap for implementing NetSuite.

History of NetSuite

Origins and evolution of the software:

NetSuite's journey began in 1998 when it was founded by Evan Goldberg under the original name "NetLedger." The primary goal was to provide businesses with web-based accounting software, a revolutionary idea at the time. 

With the backing and vision of Oracle's co-founder, Larry Ellison, the company quickly expanded its offerings beyond just accounting.

Key milestones during development:

Over the years, NetSuite underwent several transformations, both in terms of its product suite and its branding. Some notable milestones include:

2003: Introduction of the NetSuite ERP, expanding its capabilities beyond accounting. Using an ERP system, such as NetSuite, gives an organisation improved efficiency, enhanced decision making and so much more.

2007: The company officially rebranded from NetLedger to NetSuite, reflecting its broader range of solutions.

2016: Oracle acquired NetSuite, further solidifying its position in the market and benefiting from Oracle's vast resources and expertise.

What is NetSuite?

NetSuite is a comprehensive cloud-based finance software solution designed to manage various business processes in a unified system. It encompasses functions such as financial management, customer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce, and more. 

By integrating these functions, NetSuite provides businesses with a 360-degree view of their operations, enabling them to streamline workflows and enhance efficiency.

Being cloud-based, NetSuite offers several advantages over traditional on-premises systems. Businesses can access the platform from anywhere, anytime, ensuring continuity and flexibility. 

Moreover, the cloud model means reduced IT overhead, automatic updates, and enhanced security.

How NetSuite is Used

At its core, NetSuite is powerful finance software, bringing together on a single platform elements that are often left behind.  For example, approval routings, budgeting and forecasting can all be done in the same single platform. ERP systems integrate various business processes into a single unified platform, facilitating data sharing across departments and improving decision-making. 

With NetSuite, non profit organisations can ensure that departments like finance, sales, subgranting, funder management, approvals and budgeting are not operating in silos but are interconnected, sharing real-time data and insights. Having an expert team of NetSuite consultants allows all these functions to reach their full potential.

Contact us to find out exactly how you can use NetSuite.

Key Features of NetSuite

NetSuite's robustness lies in its comprehensive suite of features, tailored to meet the diverse needs of businesses across various sectors. 

Let's delve into some of the platform's most prominent functionalities:

Financial Management

NetSuite's financial management module is at the heart of its offerings, providing businesses with tools to streamline their financial operations.

Accounting: With a centralised source of financial data, businesses can automate their day-to-day accounting tasks, from ledger and inventory management to accounts payable and receivable.

Financial Planning: NetSuite aids in budgeting, forecasting, and financial modelling, allowing companies to plan effectively for the future.

Revenue Recognition: For businesses with complex revenue streams, NetSuite offers features to recognize revenue according to accounting standards, ensuring compliance and accuracy.

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)

Building and maintaining customer relationships is crucial for any business, and NetSuite's CRM module is designed to facilitate just that.

Sales Force Automation: Automate the entire donation and funder management process, from lead generation to closing funding, ensuring that fundraising teams can focus on building relationships and driving income.

Marketing Automation: Streamline marketing campaigns, track ROI, and segment customer data for targeted outreach.

Customer Support and Service: Manage customer inquiries, track service requests, and ensure timely resolution, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction.


In the digital age, having a strong online presence is indispensable. NetSuite's e-commerce module provides businesses with the tools they need to succeed online.

Web-Based Income and Sales Capabilities: Create and manage online stores, and/or donations integrate with payment gateways, and offer a seamless shopping (for example for courses) experience to customers.

Order Management: Ensure that online orders are processed efficiently, from cart to delivery, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Professional Services Automation (PSA)

For service-based businesses, managing projects and resources effectively is paramount. NetSuite's PSA module offers tools tailored for this sector.

Project Management: Plan, track, and manage projects, ensuring timely delivery and optimal resource utilisation.

Resource Management: Allocate resources effectively, track skill sets, and ensure that the right personnel are assigned to the right tasks.

Time and Expense Tracking: Monitor billable hours, manage expenses, and ensure accurate invoicing.

Supply Chain and Inventory Management

Managing inventory and supply chains can be complex, but NetSuite simplifies this with its comprehensive features.

Product Data Management: Centralize product information, track product life cycles, and ensure data accuracy across the board.

Inventory Tracking: Monitor stock levels in real-time, predict demand, and optimise inventory turnover.

Supplier Management: Build and maintain relationships with suppliers, manage purchase orders, and ensure timely procurement.

In the charity and social enterprise context, we have assisted ‘buy one donate one’ models to operate more effectively.

Business Intelligence and Reporting

Data-driven decision-making is crucial in today's business landscape, and NetSuite's business intelligence module facilitates this.

Real-Time Dashboard: Access a visual representation of key organisational metrics, ensuring that decision-makers have the information they need at their fingertips.

Analytics: Dive deep into business data, uncover insights, and make informed decisions.

Reporting Tools: Generate detailed reports on various business aspects, from sales performance to financial health, aiding in strategic planning.

Benefits of Using NetSuite

In an era where businesses are constantly seeking ways to optimise their operations and stay ahead of the competition, software solutions like NetSuite play a pivotal role. Here's a closer look at the myriad benefits that NetSuite brings to the table:

Real-time Visibility and Access to Data

In today's dynamic charity and social enterprise environment, having access to real-time data can be the difference between seizing an opportunity and missing it.

Centralised Data Hub: NetSuite consolidates data from various departments, providing a unified view of business operations. Whether it's income figures, donor reporting, or financial metrics, everything is available at your fingertips.

Instant Insights: With real-time dashboards and analytics, businesses can monitor their performance on-the-go, making adjustments as needed to stay on track.

Streamlined Business Processes and Reduced IT Costs

Efficiency is the name of the game, and NetSuite is designed to enhance it at every turn.

Automated Workflows: From order processing to financial reconciliation, NetSuite automates a plethora of tasks, reducing manual interventions and the associated errors.

Cost Savings: By adopting a cloud-based SaaS model, businesses can eliminate expenses related to on-premises hardware, software maintenance, and regular updates. The result is a significant reduction in IT overhead.

Enhanced Decision-Making Capabilities

Information is power, and NetSuite ensures businesses have plenty of it.

Comprehensive Reporting: Generate detailed reports on various aspects of your business, be it sales trends, customer behaviour, or financial health. These reports provide a granular view, aiding in strategic planning.

Predictive Analytics: NetSuite's advanced analytics tools can help businesses forecast trends, anticipate challenges, and identify opportunities, ensuring they're always a step ahead.

Scalability and Flexibility for Growing Businesses

Growth is a goal for most businesses, and NetSuite ensures that your software environment won't be a bottleneck.

Modular Design: Start with what you need and add more functionalities as your business grows. Whether you're expanding your product line, entering new markets, or increasing your workforce, NetSuite can adapt.

Global Reach: For businesses with a global footprint or aspirations, NetSuite offers features like multi-currency, multi-language, and tax compliance tools, ensuring seamless international operations.

Potential Limitations and Challenges

While NetSuite offers a plethora of benefits, it's essential for businesses to be aware of potential challenges and limitations that might arise during its adoption and use.

Costs Associated with Implementation and Customization

Initial Investment: Implementing a comprehensive system like NetSuite can come with significant upfront costs, especially for businesses that require extensive customization or integration with existing systems.

Ongoing Costs: While cloud-based solutions often lead to savings in the long run, there might be recurring costs associated with licensing, additional modules, or advanced features.

Training and Change Management Considerations

Learning Curve: Like any sophisticated software, NetSuite has a learning curve. Employees might need time to familiarise themselves with its functionalities and features.

Change Management: Transitioning from legacy systems or processes to NetSuite requires careful change management to ensure smooth adoption and minimal disruption.

Possible Limitations for Very Niche or Specific Industry Needs

Specialised Requirements: While NetSuite is versatile and caters to a wide range of industries, there can be very niche or specific industry needs that it doesn't address out-of-the-box. Customization can bridge some of these gaps, and the good thing about NetSuite is that these customisations can easily be shared with other organisations.

This is the fundamental reason why Cloud Doing Good specialises in working with not just charities and social enterprises, but certain types of charities and social enterprises, for example INGOs and membership organisations.  So that we can share with our clients the power of shared core hardware and software, with specific, pre-built customisations.

Press here to find out more about why we use NetSuite.


In the ever-evolving landscape of charities and social enterprises, having the right tools at your disposal is paramount. NetSuite, with its comprehensive suite of features and cloud-based architecture, has positioned itself as a leading solution for businesses aiming to streamline operations, gain real-time insights, and drive growth.

However, like any significant business decision, it's essential to weigh the benefits against potential challenges. While NetSuite offers transformative advantages, considerations related to costs, training, and niche requirements should be factored into the decision-making process.

For businesses navigating the complex waters of the digital age, evaluating software needs is crucial. And as you chart your course, NetSuite stands as a beacon, promising efficiency, scalability, and agility. 

It's an invitation to businesses worldwide: to assess, to ponder, and potentially, to embrace a future powered by one of the industry's premier solutions.

Get in touch to find out more.

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