Recently, Thomas Barczak, CIO of InSource Solutions, was teaching his 14-year-old daughter how to use Microsoft Office. For someone who had been using the software for 30 years, what he thought would be very straightforward wasn’t.
“I realized from an implementation standpoint I was missing it,” Barczak told a roomful of attendees at the recent SuiteWorld 2017 conference. “It’s an evolution, not a Big Bang event.” Trying to force all his experiential Office knowledge onto her was just creating resistance and frustration.
The same can be said for working with NetSuite itself, Barczak suggested. That’s why his organization treats the twice annual NetSuite upgrades as an opportunity to learn and become more efficient.
“When we looked at NetSuite, we realized the one database is phenomenal, with a forward and backward view of clients,” Barczak said. “From the beginning we were focused on improving the operational efficiency of the business.”
And InSource has seen significant improvements in efficiency, including a 20 percent increase in operational efficiency and 35 percent improvement in deferred revenue management. Working with manufacturers, Barczak understandably has a laser focus on process efficiency and he shared that passion with the attendees in the room. He noted many process improvement projects fail to have the desired effect, citing the Wall Street Journal (Where Process Improvement Projects Go Wrong) and the Harvard Business Review (Why Good Projects Fail Anyway).
“The one we see the most is in the thousands of projects we see on plant floor. You see a temporary spike in performance and everyone celebrates,” he said. “Then the project team leaves and it starts to rapidly decay without continued reinforcement.”
To ensure that InSource’s use of NetSuite continues to be successful, Barczak and line of business team leads go back and validate all of their major processes, and many of the minor ones, with each NetSuite upgrade. To help drive success, InSource identifies a NetSuite champion in each department who is not the department head.
“They act as a liaison between business and IT,” Barczak said. “When we show up as IT, people do things differently. It’s good to have someone on the ground for water cooler talk about [fear, uncertainty and doubt].”
The goal, Barczak said, is “to get off the roller coaster of disappointment” where things improve, are neglected and fall back either to an old way of doing things or a less efficient one.
“The upgrade cycle provides a cadence to do incremental upgrades in performance in your organization,” he said. “When you look at a project or NetSuite, most people get through the initial plan and prepare stage and then the design and deploy stage. Where we fail is operate and adopt and improve and sustain stage.”
For example, while there are scenarios that call for the use of spreadsheets, the reason an organization has an enterprise application like NetSuite is to do away with manual, siloed data. Examine every spreadsheet-based process, he suggested. Similarly, InSource has created Saved Searches around standard operating procedures for regularly occurring requirements. They then name those searches SOP6, SOP7, etc. which mirror SOP documents that are housed in its knowledge repository for easy access.
“SOP6 happens about 15 times a month,” Barczak said. “That used to be a help desk ticket, which took a few hours. Now it happens automagically.”
As NetSuite rolls out more and more functionality with every upgrade, there can at times be a sense of anxiety about the upcoming release, Barczak said. To mitigate that, InSource does user acceptance testing for all processes. For example, all 62 accounting processes get tested in about an hour and a half.
“If we find they made an in-flight adjustment to their process that hasn’t been accounted for, we tag that and come back and revisit it,” Barczak said. “It looks like you’re trying to avoid risk with the upgrade but what you’re doing is creating a cadence with the upgrade cycle to communicate with your user community.”
Just a few weeks ago, Barczak and InSource’s NetSuite administrator noticed that users were looking for the same three pieces of information on every contract they process. InSource does 1,400 contracts a year.
“The NetSuite Admin, was kicking me saying, ‘We can fix that.’ All we had to do was source some information creatively,” Barczak said. “Every click is several seconds. Every page load can take a while. Add it up 4,200 times and you’re saving a lot of time.”