- Sterlitech manufactures liquid filters for use in research and development across education, government, and private organizations.
- Operating with three separate business systems created processes prone to error and significantly limited order cycle time.
- Sterlitech chose NetSuite over Acumatica as its ERP based on familiarity with the brand, reviews from users, the NetSuite sales team’s authenticity, and its well-honed implementation process.
- The switch has led to 50% faster order entry, 60% time savings for sales coordinators, and happier teams with high staff approval of the switch to ERP — right from the start.
Sterlitech Corporation is the world's largest producer of inorganic membranes and filtration products. It sells small filters and filter devices to various organizations that conduct research, including universities, governments, healthcare organizations, applied research firms, and R&D departments at Fortune 500 companies. Purchase orders might come from owners at smaller businesses, and for larger ones, they might come from leaders overseeing the resourcing of R&D departments.
Sterlitech posts $13 million in annual revenue and has a staff of 50. Seventy-five percent of its business comes from the United States. Canada is its second-largest market, and it also sells in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East, with a bit of business in Africa.
With a single office location in Washington State, Sterlitech(opens in new tab) drop-ships to customers won through both direct sales and a growing network of 25 distribution partners. Additional sales and marketing staff work across the US, as well as in the Philippines and Mexico.
Listen to an overview of Sterlitech's story on the NetSuite Podcast:
Multiple Systems Prove Time-Consuming and Susceptible to Error
Founded in 2001, Sterlitech started out with QuickBooks. About 10 years ago, it added Fishbowl, an inventory management software which integrates with QuickBooks to some degree. Atop that, it used Salesforce.
Back when Sterlitech used those three separate systems, all sales orders and orders from channels like its ecommerce site and Amazon went directly into Salesforce. From there, orders were processed and pushed into Fishbowl. Fishbowl handled fulfillment and shipping, then the financials were transmitted to QuickBooks.
Sterlitech President Mark Spatz saw several problems with moving the business forward with such a workflow:
- Transferring data between systems led to user errors, creating inconsistencies.
- The team faced technical challenges around connections and data format mapping.
- Remote staff had to use a virtual desktop to access QuickBooks and Fishbowl. It was difficult to set up new employees, especially those overseas, and get connections working correctly.
‘Filtering Through’ ERP Vendors
Spatz was aware of NetSuite’s benefits and had been exploring the move to an ERP system for about six years. He got additional exposure to NetSuite through his time running the Independent Laboratory Distributors Association (ILDA), which is part of NetSuite’s Associations and Buying Groups Program and counts NetSuite as a member.
Spatz commissioned an internal research project on ERP solutions. His team presented options from many smaller, local vendors, which didn’t quite rival what Spatz already knew about the larger, global NetSuite. With a prerequisite to move to a cloud-based system, the candidates boiled down to NetSuite vs. Acumatica(opens in new tab).
Of the many differences between the two solutions, the implementation process was by far the biggest, said Kristina Morris, Sterlitech’s head of operations. Sterlitech’s Fishbowl implementation had not gone as smoothly as it could have, so implementation was a major factor in evaluating ERP vendors. Plus, Sterlitech had grown since that Fishbowl implementation and had more items in its catalog – making for more complexity.
After talking with NetSuite, the Sterlitech team felt confident that NetSuite would deliver on its promises to provide:
- Guidance and partnership in every step of the implementation process.
- A dedicated implementation team.
- A clear and achievable implementation schedule.
- Clarity about its deliverables.
- A phased implementation with milestones and deadlines.
- An upfront and realistic assessment about the time investment required in implementation.
Why NetSuite Won the Business
Spatz appreciated the NetSuite sales process, finding it thorough and sensible. He was struck by how, at the end of every meeting, the NetSuite team asked whether he thought the solution was right for Sterlitech and if a next meeting was warranted. Multiple NetSuite team members joined those meetings and calls, whereas with Acumatica, typically just one person joined: a third-party integrator. With implementation a top concern, that gave Spatz pause.
Spatz also talked to a handful of peers who were using NetSuite effectively and productively. He learned of a user group his team could talk with for answers and reassurance throughout implementation. And he was impressed with the number of apps developed for NetSuite(opens in new tab).
Sterlitech Goes Full Suite Ahead
Sterlitech moved beyond its fragmented solutions to NetSuite. It now uses the suite to manage:
- Accounting and financials
- Fixed assets
- Production planning
- Sales order entry
- Customer relationships
- Some marketing functions
Sterlitech especially benefits from NetSuite Connector, which it uses to connect NetSuite with Amazon and Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento). With around 3,500 active SKUs and about 50 orders per day, the team relies on NetSuite Connector(opens in new tab) to provide an accurate view of stock levels when fulfilling Amazon orders. Amazon customer and product information import right into the ERP via NetSuite Connector — a game-changer for the order entry team, as it eliminates a multi-step process of clicking buttons and confirming data. The new workflow has also reduced human error. The consulting firm Sterlitech works with said that the connection is by far the smoothest it has seen between ecommerce platforms and an ERP, according to Spatz.
More Benefits of Switching to NetSuite
- Order processing:
Sterlitech has saved significant time on order processing, said Cesar Luna, channel account manager. While sales order entry previously took 20-30 minutes, it now takes less than 10 — and that includes printing the order to the production floor. Sales coordinators have freed up 60% of their time, allowing them to prioritize other customer-focused activities and pursue innovations. These efficiencies lend Sterlitech a scalability it didn’t have before.
- Employee experience:
The switch to NetSuite was a winning initiative internally, said Morris. Sterlitech polled staff over its first few months of using the system: From the beginning, the overwhelming majority felt positive about the change – no doubt a side effect of leadership properly endorsing the system as part of their ERP implementation plan(opens in new tab). Over the next few months, the number of staff reporting confidence in NetSuite’s performance compared to their previous systems rose even higher. Nearly all reported feeling comfortable working in the system, too.
- Talent sourcing and hiring:
Sterlitech has changed its talent sourcing and hiring now that it’s using NetSuite. Spatz said he’s no longer reluctant to hire candidates out of concern they aren’t familiar with the three systems Sterlitech was using before. While candidates for manufacturing, customer service, or sales roles might have never heard of Fishbowl, far fewer are unfamiliar with NetSuite or programs like it, he added. It’s changed how the company markets open positions. New team members use NetSuite Learning Cloud Support(opens in new tab) for onboarding and initial training, getting up to speed on the system quickly.
Marketing Automation and Integrations to Come
With NetSuite in place and the company enjoying returns on its investment, Sterlitech leadership is exploring what else is possible with NetSuite.
Spatz has worked with Salesforce’s Pardot before, and he’s thinking about how Sterlitech can use NetSuite to manage its direct marketing, including targeting. Then, it will be time to exploit the many options Sterlitech’s newfound scalability presents in order to grow the business.
For his part, Luna is excited about integration possibilities around email and customer chat and call services. These integrations and others like it will allow Sterlitech to expand operations within a single system — so that the efficiencies just keep coming.
Choosing between ERP vendors? Supercharge your ERP selection(opens in new tab) in this on-demand webinar.