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Acumatica vs. Netsuite: Which Cloud ERP is Best?

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Jalene Ippolito May 11th, 2021

Finding a new ERP solution is an important choice for growing businesses – but it can also be overwhelming. There are so many options to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? This is a great place to start. We’ll look at two of the leading cloud ERP solutions for small to mid-size companies. Like anything, there are pros, cons and things to consider. We’ll take you through all of it to help you decide which solution is best for your business – Acumatica or NetSuite.

What is Acumatica?

Founded in 2003, Acumatica has quickly grown a customer base of around 5,200. They offer an affordable ERP solution that’s built for the cloud, but can be deployed on-premise where required. The modular design lends itself well to functional groupings based on industry needs, with editions for a variety of industries, including distribution, manufacturing, professional services and construction.

What is NetSuite?

NetSuite is the pioneer cloud ERP solution for growing businesses. First launched in 1998, the company was acquired by Oracle in 2016. This acquisition made Oracle the biggest software services provider in the world and gave NetSuite additional resources to become an even stronger player in the mid-market ERP space. Fast forward to today – NetSuite has over 24,000 customers across 100 countries, ranging in size from start-up to enterprise. In recent years, they’ve been consistently ranked as a market leader by various sources.

So, how do the two stack up against one another? Let’s find out.

Deployment options & licensing

Acumatica is built as a public cloud solution, but can also be deployed on-premise or in a private cloud environment. This offers added flexibility and can be a definite plus if you have industry regulations that require an on-premise solution for security purposes. Keep in mind that an on-premise ERP deployment has the added cost of buying and maintaining hardware, plus the IT resources to manage it all. The deployment model you choose will also impact whether you have subscription or perpetual licensing. This adds a level of complexity for Acumatica, as they have to support and maintain three versions of the same product.

NetSuite, on the other hand, is a full public cloud solution. There’s an added strength that comes with this – it was always intended to be a cloud solution, which focuses all past and future development efforts. As a customer, you don’t have to worry about the IT overhead – backups, security protocols, server maintenance and the like are all handled for you. And you’re always on the latest version, giving you access to new features and bug fixes without the hassle of a complex upgrade.

Implementation based on industry best practices

With Acumatica, each implementation is approached like a blank sheet of paper. While you get a ‘custom’ implementation based on your needs, you’re more vulnerable to poor implementation practices if you choose a less experienced partner. The costs of a time and materials implementation can be higher, with scope creep being a common problem.

NetSuite has addressed this challenge with their SuiteSuccess implementation model. It all starts with your industry and builds out from there with a bundle of ERP modules needed to meet your industry needs. The implementation itself is based on industry best practices to give you optimized processes, workflows, reports and dashboards. The result is a more predictable implementation cost and faster time to value. And you still have the flexibility to add other functionality or tailor processes based on your needs – you get the best of both worlds.

Ability to scale your ERP as you grow

At first glance, Acumatica has an attractive sticker price. But when you dig deeper, that may not be the case.

First, the price isn’t quite as appealing when you consider that you’re not getting deep functionality across the solution (keep reading for more on that).

Second, Acumatica uses a transactional pricing model, charging based on your transaction volume, with no per-user fee. But what does that cost look like as you grow? The reality is that as you add more users, your transaction volume is increasing anyway, so your cost still increases, just in a different way. Fast-growing companies can be caught off-guard by significant price hikes as their transaction volumes increase. At the end of the day, the cost can be a bit unpredictable as you grow.

NetSuite truly is built to scale. The modular design allows you to build up your solution brick-by-brick, implementing functionality as you need it. We’ll admit the pricing can be complicated, as it considers both the modules you buy and your user count, but the value is second-to-none. With 24,000 customers and counting, the investment in NetSuite is worth it.

Depth of functionality

User experience is arguably one of Acumatica’s greatest strengths – it’s an easy-to-use solution that works great on browsers and mobile devices. And while they have an impressive list of features, dig deep to understand exactly what you’re getting. For example, while they offer both Manufacturing and Distribution Editions, the capabilities for inventory management and MRP is highly simplistic. You’ll likely need other add-on products to fill those gaps and reach what is considered standard functionality in other ERP solutions.

Acumatica also uses batch processing, which reduces the accuracy and visibility in KPIs, reports and dashboards – essentially, you’re looking at a point-in-time view, not real-time. And if you need to perform intercompany transactions, you’ll be performing manual consolidation unless you implement an intercompany accounting middleware engine. Don’t settle for a surface-level understanding of the features – ask lots of questions to understand how deep the functionality really is.

As a more mature product, NetSuite meets (and in many cases exceeds) minimum functional requirements for most businesses. For example, intercompany and financial management are known strengths for NetSuite. They also have their own Warehouse Management System (WMS), built on the NetSuite platform, rather than relying on third-party integrations as Acumatica does. Put simply – as a relative newcomer, Acumatica can’t compete on functionality.

Closing thoughts…

The right ERP solution will always be dependent on your requirements. But we’re big believers in the NetSuite solution – and the industry experts agree. In Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises, NetSuite was named a Leader. Acumatica was dropped as a Magic Quadrant vendor.

As your Canadian NetSuite implementation partner, we’re here to guide you through the process – right from evaluation, through implementation and beyond. Let's connect to get started.

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May 11th 2021
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