SuiteWorld 2018: Oracle NetSuite and cloud bridge between PLM and ERP

SuiteWorld 2018: Oracle NetSuite and cloud bridge between PLM and ERP

I’m coming to SuiteWorld 2018 – an annual gathering of NetSuite ERP users, partners and developers. According to the website, NetSuite is #1 Cloud ERP conference. As much as I believe, the future of manufacturing companies is to become connected in the way they can optimize and organize their processes. ERP is one of they key elements in the chain of connections between going from design to manufacturing and support. In a traditional PLM-ERP environment, an integration is painful and complex. I addressed PLM and ERP integration tango many time earlier on blog. So, I’m looking forward to learn how different is cloud ERP environment, to see how Oracle is supporting NetSuite business, which was acquired for $9.3B  just two years ago and how other PLM developers are connecting to NetSuite.

My special interest about NetSuite is related to specific market NetSuite is playing – Small and Medium Enterprises. According to IDC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Midmarket ERP Applications 2017 Vendor Assessment. NetSuite is one of the largest players in this segment.

Here is market definition for midmarket ERP solutions provided by IDC and positioning picture.

This MarketScape evaluation focuses on SaaS and cloud-enabled midmarket ERP solutions. Refer to Table 2 for IDC’s definition of “midmarket.” ERP is a packaged integrated suite of technology business applications with common data and process models that digitally support the administrative, financial, and operational business processes across different industries. These processes manage resources including some or all of the following: people, finances, capital, materials, suppliers, manufacturing, supply chains, customers, products, projects, contracts, orders, and facilities. ERP suites and the associated applications are utilized to run the business and typically start with finance and include procurement and inventory/asset management and may also include HCM, order management, manufacturing, distribution, services, engineering, PLM, and supply chain. The software can be specific to an industry or designed to be more broadly applied to a group of industries. 

I found an interesting slide shows NetSuite solution for emerging manufacturing companies. Many of these companies are customers of CAD vendors. It is interesting to learn if these companies are also using PLM application or they are struggling with not so obvious decision to escape from well known engineering and manufacturing Excel hell.

Does NetSuite develop and provide services similar to PLM vendor? This is first question I want to get answered. PLM is right there on the diagram above in the section “Innovate”. According to the following press release from 2016, NetSuite provides solutions for manufacturing world including PLM.

“Changing customer expectations and global market forces now require manufacturers to be more nimble and innovative than ever before,” said Jim McGeever, President and COO of NetSuite. “Unfortunately, many manufacturers are still struggling with systems designed for another era that can’t adapt to their needs today. With a unified, flexible and cloud-based system, NetSuite is delivering the collaborative tools to optimize operations today and adjust to the needs of tomorrow.”

With NetSuite, manufacturers gain access to a modern cloud solution that can transform their business, bringing them to the forefront of modern manufacturing and helping to position them for the industrial Internet-of-Things (IoT). The enhancements announced today deliver key benefits across product lifecycle management (PLM), supply chain execution, order fulfillment and partner integration.

This is my favorite passage about NetSuite and comprehensive PLM:

As product companies outsource manufacturing and shipping, they need tools and technologies that will enable them to monitor the products’ lifecycle and make sure the supply chain is prepared for changes in demand and requirements. Because NetSuite is a full suite, it provides capabilities to manage all product functionalities including:

(1) Advanced Bill of Materials (BOM) functionality allowing a single BOM to be used for multiple manufactured items and manufacturing locations—reducing maintenance and data inconsistencies;  (2) Integrated repeatable, workflow-driven process for new product introduction, one of the most challenging phases of a product lifecycle; (3) Easy coordination and collaboration within the enterprise and connected supply chain.
Faster speed to market; (4) A more deeply connected supply chain with partners sharing data, enabling greater innovation.

It is hard to say where is a border between NetSuite own PLM capabilities and partners solutions. The same press release mentioned Arena Solutions and Autodesk as two PLM partners.

Speaking of which, both Arena Solutions and Autodesk are providing connectors and can interplay together with NetSuite. The following picture outlines Arena bi-directional data exchange. Pretty standard picture and functionality for an average PLM-ERP integration.

Autodesk picture is simpler and provides less data about what information can be transferred. I captured from Autodesk -NetSuite solution website. You can learn more about Autodesk NetSuite partnership by navigating to this link, which includes video with back that time Autodesk CEO Carl Bass.

What is my conclusion? I look forward to learn more about NetSuite, manufacturing solutions and PLM-ERP cloud bridge. NetSuite is active in the industry where PLM vendors didn’t get much success. Cloud is an opportunity to change the PLM game for medium size companies. However, as it happened before in other places, ERP can overwhelm fully blown PLM suites by offering solution that is partial but providing sufficient level of functionality to these companies.  The bridge serves an absolutely important. It must pump the lifeblood of manufacturing – Bill of Materials and connects other elements of product development process such as parts and ECOs. Just my thoughts. And please, stay tuned for more updates…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


Share This Post