Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director, NetSuite

For many, ERP upgrades involve long, stressful, working weekends.

At Fisher-Unitech, a long-held tradition has been to mark the ERP system upgrade by visiting the local saloon to celebrate the new version.

That’s because the Troy, Mich.-based reseller of product lifecycle management software runs NetSuite for its ERP, a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution where all patches and upgrades are handled by NetSuite. And the tradition is a long-held one because this year Fisher-Unitech will mark 10 years as a NetSuite customer.

The notion of running ERP in the cloud may seem a relatively recent idea, but the fact that companies like Fisher-Unitech have been running NetSuite for 10 years are proof that it’s anything but.

Greg Fisher, the co-founder of Fisher-Unitech, realized early on the benefits of a cloud-based system. At the time the company selected NetSuite to run its financials, it was a dispersed organization with several offices spread across the United States. After some initial success with a web-based customer support tool, Fisher and team were convinced of the potential for SaaS and brought in NetSuite to replace a jumble of spreadsheets, Peachtree, and GoldMine systems.

And while these were the early days of SaaS ERP, Fisher-Unitech had no reservations about jumping in quickly and wholeheartedly.

“We had a hacker mentality,” Fisher said. “Not a bad thing, meaning just try it. Instead of a long deployment plan, a lot of consulting, we skinnied it up and just went for it. It worked really well for us.”

Where it once took the company days to compile its end of quarter financials, NetSuite brought that down to hours. In fact, the company runs nearly every process in its operations on NetSuite – ecommerce, commissions, payroll management, tech support, marketing automation, project tracking and billing, timesheets/expenses, accounting, and sales force automation. It’s extended its cloud faith to Google Apps and VoIP. The last server left the building over two years ago!

As NetSuite has grown, now counting 20,000 companies and subsidiaries, so too has Fisher-Unitech. When the company launched NetSuite it had 20 employees and is now up to 130. Indeed, NetSuite’s scalability has helped the company manage its growth. Fisher-Unitech has made six different acquisitions over the past 10 years and been able to get new offices up and running efficiently on NetSuite.

“We’ve gone to five or six different markets or time zones and acquired different valued add resellers (VARS). All we have to do is add a new location,” Fisher said. “There’s no deployment. Sure, there’s training to get people to use the system but we would never be able to grow the way we have without using the SaaS model. I can’t imagine any other way.”

NetSuite dashboards give the company visibility into key performance indicators across the business, letting Fisher see how each division is doing against quota.

“Generally speaking, we have buy in from everybody in the company,” Fisher said. “Everyone knows NetSuite is our system. We prefer one system for all; can’t imagine managing multiple providers...the finger pointing would be out of control.”