Why Going Global (with ERP) Doesn’t Need to be Scary

Barney Beal, Former Content Director

June 18, 2018

Expanding globally is an imperative for any business with serious ambitions for growth. Yet, the corresponding challenges that come with that growth – from managing new currencies, languages and taxation rules to gaining a comprehensive view of operations – can hold many organizations back.

At the recent SuiteWorld18 event in Las Vegas, three NetSuite customers shared their experiences expanding globally and rolling out a global ERP system that helped them manage operations. The panel session included Mark Hearn, Global Program Director of PageGroup, a professional recruitment specialist with 130 offices in 36 countries; Carlos Arce, IT Specialist with Movile, a Brazilian mobile application and online ticketing company with 10 subsidiaries across four countries in Latin America; and Norman Duce, Executive Manager at Australia-based REA Group, a digital property advertising company with worldwide operations, listing more than 4 million properties per month.

All three shared their experience implementing NetSuite OneWorld globally and what a difference a global ERP system(opens in new tab) can make.

“Simply just being able to get to the numbers quickly and know that they’re correct should not be underestimated,” Hearn said. “If we don’t take the time now to do the reset it just becomes harder and harder.”

Here’s some of their key takeaways:

Allocate more time than you think you need for change management 

“We put in estimates on what it would take to train and train and train again,” Duce said. “We could have doubled them.”

The NetSuite way may be better

“Changing internal processes to align with NetSuite looks like the hard road, but it’s actually the easy road,” Hearn said.

The Page Group was determined to adapt its methods to NetSuite rather than vice versa and it paid off in easing the implementation and improving some processes.

…but you may have to sell the process

There’s always a natural exercise to say “we’re different, we’re different,” Hearn added. For the Page Group, each country wanted “a faster horse” and not a new way of doing things.

“We talked less about the system and how we were really doing things [to help the business],” Hearn said.

You can still go agile implementing ERP

“We’re a tech company,” said Duce. “Putting in an ERP system in an agile way does work with some traditional touches. We found a blended approach worked very well.”

Don’t try to be perfect

“Perfection is the enemy of good,” Hearn said. “If you insist on perfection you’ll never deliver anything. One of my challenges was to get really good people to just do things well.”

Cloud ERP(opens in new tab) has helped to reveal some of the change activities, he added.

“When it took years to do the technology, everyone thought it was the technology,” Hearn said. “But when you can roll it out quickly you see the gaps.”

If You’ve Got a Big Project, Go Big

Page Group is deploying one instance of NetSuite OneWorld across 36 countries.

“If I do one a year, I’m going to get fired,” Hearn said. “Big companies have limited patience. It’s like ripping off the band aid.”

So, the Page Group is rolling out NetSuite in chunks.

“It’s easier to roll out multiple companies at the same time, rather than run legacy system,” Hearn said. “For us, five Asia sites will go live on the same day.”

Consider the impact on other systems

“Think about the whole end-to-end journey and the downstream systems,” Duce said. “It was beneficial to think about what we were doing with CRM to account for quote-to-cash.”

Test the government APIs (a lot)

Not all government tax integrations are the same, particularly in Brazil. Across city, state and federal tax rules, each entity can apply a different tax for services, that can mean about 3 million possibilities in taxation, according to Arce.

Move fast in unstable geographies

“In Brazil and Latin America there’s been some economic and political instability,” Arce said. “If you have an exchange rate for local work forces, you need to take that into account. It can vary 5 percent in one day. Last year’s plan is now totally different. If you take too much time your budget will only disappear.”

See the NetSuite OneWorld Data Sheet for more on global ERP(opens in new tab).

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.