Job Shop Insights


Gain Visibility Into the Costs and Progress of Your Engineering Projects With NetSuite

Sep 11, 2018
By: Reed Klinkhammer

How much visibility do your project managers have into the costs and resources of new product development projects? Does your CFO have easy access to profit margins, budgets and real-time reporting?

While it’s common for manufacturers to use Microsoft Excel to track expenses, resource allocation and overall project progress, this process can overwhelm employees with unwieldy spreadsheets that always seem to be out of date. If you use Excel, your managers probably spend valuable time tracking down updates, analyzing if they’re best utilizing each employee and adjusting project timelines.

Project management and reporting can be much more efficient — especially by leveraging the capabilities of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool. Today we’re going to dive into one ERP solution — NetSuite — to discuss the financial and project management benefits it offers manufacturers, including improved visibility, decision making and savings.

Deliver Your Projects On Time and On Budget

One of the best features of NetSuite is that it’s built for use by multiple roles across a business. For example, your CEO and CFO can utilize the system to generate financial reports, while your project managers can set up projects and create tasks that individual users can work on.

Because NetSuite is cloud-based, it’s always updated with the latest information. This expands reporting capabilities, improves the accuracy of project details (compared to using multi-versioned Excel spreadsheets) and helps reduce excess time spent managing complex new development projects.

On the most basic level, a flexible project setup allows users to organize projects by a variety of options, such as tasks, milestones, end dates and start to finish. Project templates collect tasks into groups for easier organization and access, ultimately increasing efficiency and allowing employees to focus on product development — not tracking down updates or searching for the information they need to start their daily tasks.

NetSuite Job Insights - Project Dashboard

On the reporting side, NetSuite is very robust and provides customized metrics and reports using real-time data. Its project dashboard automatically displays progress metrics such as work complete versus total work, work allocated and estimated work remaining, and it includes a Gantt Chart of progress for easy visualization. For those interested in the financials, NetSuite puts together a variety of reports, such as actual versus budget, costs calculated from employee labor rates and estimated profitability by project.

NetSuite Gantt chart w Critical Path Highlighted

Generating up-to-date reports that improve the executive team’s decision-making capabilities is a huge benefit of using a cloud-based ERP. NetSuite also easily tracks resources, expenses and time, allowing managers to improve employee utilization and efficiency, as well as enhance visibility into project profitability. Overall, manufacturers can utilize NetSuite’s features to reduce project costs, increase the number of projects delivered on time and on budget, and improve the accuracy of their data.

NetSuite Est Profitability by Project Report

Take Advantage of the Right Resources

From real-time analytics to cleaner, more standardized processes, NetSuite offers a strong argument for utilizing an ERP over manual processes and tools such as Excel. But manufacturers should carefully consider technology investments to help ensure a significant return on investment. Utilizing a third party familiar with both the technology and the manufacturing industry can be crucial to success.

At Wipfli, our first goal is to understand your business. By asking the right questions, we get to the root of your challenges and identify your needs. From there, our NetSuite-certified team members build the ERP system around your organization and its process needs in order to gain the best performance improvement.

Ready to improve your efficiencies and bottom line? Contact Wipfli to learn more about how NetSuite’s project management capabilities can align with your business goals, and to get started with a complementary NetSuite demonstration.


Reed Klinkhammer
Senior Consultant
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