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#41 | NetSuite Data Migration Process

We have completed a lot of NetSuite implementation and consulting projects in the past, and we would like to share some of the things we learned, so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes we made.  In this article we are going to discuss the reasons why companies choose NetSuite, NetSuite data migration overview, and the steps which are the following:

  1. Identify Data to Migrate
  2. Prepare CSV File
  3. Upload Data in NetSuite
  4. Resolve Errors
  5. Validation

I suggest you watch the video. It’s easier to understand if you are a visual/audio learner. The content below is the same as the video. It’s for those who learn by reading.

Why Companies Use NetSuite

Why use NetSuite
Fig. 1 – Why companies use NetSuite

Over the past 6 or 7 years NetSuite has continued to grow in popularity because it reduces manual and spreadsheet-based processes that a lot of companies are using when they outgrow QuickBooks.

In the old days, it was between QuickBooks and the next Tier 1 system like Oracle or SAP.  NetSuite is that next mid-tier system before a company jumps to a bigger platform like Oracle, SAP, or Workday.

Companies also want a SaaS solution or Software-as-a-Service.  They don’t want to setup their own servers, worry about information security, load up the software and do the updates.  They just want it available in the cloud with real-time access across the business.  NetSuite offers these to any company, which is why it is very popular.

NetSuite also offers 24/7 access from any browser, so you can be anywhere in the world and still see what’s in the system.  It also helps with consolidation of multiple entities in different parts of the world.

Data Migration Process

Let’s review the data migration process in NetSuite.  There are 5 steps to this process, from identifying the data to validation.

Data Migration Process Overview
Fig. 2 – ERP Data Migration process Overview

After identifying the data, you have to prepare the CSV file.  You would then upload the file.  After uploading, you have to resolve some issues.  Once you have resolved these issues, you have to validate the whole upload to see if everything was uploaded as you want them to be.  You would then have to repeat the whole process until all the data is uploaded.

Identifying Data for Migration

Identify Data to be Migrated
Fig. 3 – Identifying SOX Data for Migration

The first step in the data migration process is to identify the data to be migrated.  In this step, you should ensure that all the data needed in the system is included in the upload file. We also ensure accuracy and completeness of the data, and we do that by checking if the source data is accurate and complete as well.  For instance, if you are going to upload a list of employees, you should make sure that your data contains their first names, last names, email addresses, social security numbers, and addresses.

Uploading a CSV file is the fastest way to add data to NetSuite.

We should also know what fields are required.  This way, we can make sure that these data are included in the CSV file.  If we lack the required data, it will cause an error in the upload process, which will mean wasted time for us.  The mandatory fields are marked with a red asterisk in NetSuite.

It is also important to understand what type of data you are uploading and how NetSuite works for that section. Some data such as transactions for AP and AR require 2 files.  The first is a header, and the second is a line level file.  We have to understand the type of data we are migrating and the sequence.

Prepare CSV File

prepare CSV file
Fig. 4 – How to prepare CSV file for upload quick tips

The second part in the process is preparing the CSV file.  There are 7 things we need to keep in mind when preparing the file, and we are going to look at them individually.

Point 1: do is test the upload.  To do this, we only need a CSV file with 1 or 2 records. If you create a large file with lots of transactions and you get an error uploading it, you have to delete all of those new entries. On the other hand, if you only have 1 or 2 records, it would be easier to fix.

Point 2: ensure that all data is accurate and complete when adding all columns and rows to the Excel file.

Point 3: delete all blank columns and rows after the last row or column of the data.  Even though the cells may look like they are empty, Excel may treat them as valid cells that just happen to be empty.  During the upload process, if these extra columns and rows are not deleted, NetSuite will also think that these blank cells are part of the data, which would cause an error.

Point 4: if the file is using numbers for data, you have to change the format to Numbers in Excel. If you want to have a number in the file, make sure that you do not format it as Text.  That would cause an error during the upload. NetSuite will only read them as numbers if they are formatted as numbers.

Point 5: ensure using the same field names in the Excel file as in NetSuite whenever possible.  Using the same naming convention allows the system to automatically map your data fields with NetSuite fields, which would save you a lot of work.

Point 6: check what format NetSuite accepts to avoid errors.  An example is a period, which could be March 2016.  You have to format that as “Mar 2016.”  You don’t want to do 3-2016 or 3-16.

Point 7: make sure you save the file in CSV format.  NetSuite only accepts comma separated values in the import tool.

Uploading Data

upload data in NetSuite
Fig. 5 – Uploading Data in NeStuite instructions

Step 3 is the actual upload to NetSuite.  Here, we have 4 tips for you.

Tip 1: select the correct file to ensure that it is accurate.  It seems like a no-brainer, but when you have so many files, you could click the wrong file and, therefore, upload the wrong one.

Tip 2: understand that there are 3 upload options in NetSuite.  You could “Add” new information to the system, “Update” the old information already in NetSuite, or “Add or Update,” which is a combination of the two.  We have been told not to use the third option as there are still bugs on that option.  So, choose either of the first two.

Tip 3: map the correct fields on the CSV file.  This would make the whole process faster as you do not have to manually map the columns to their proper NetSuite fields after uploading.

Tip 4: once you are able to successfully upload a file, you can save the mapping file for future use.

NetSuite Naming Convention

NetSuite naming convention map
Fig. 6 – NetSuite naming convention mapping

This is the naming convention for NetSuite that we just tackled.  Listed on the left side are the column headers in the CSV file.  Listed on the right side are the NetSuite fields.  In the middle is where you map the columns to the right NetSuite fields.  For instance, the column header “Name” is mapped to the NetSuite field “Account: Name,” which is required in this case.

Resolve Issues

resolves issues steps
Fig. 7 – NetSuite resolve issues

There are 3 major things to keep in mind when resolving issues after the upload.

Tip 1: make sure that we find the incorrect data uploaded and delete it.  We do not want any incorrect data in NetSuite as that could cause a lot of problem in the future.

Tip 2: reload the correct data. Once we have deleted the wrong data, we can then input the correct one.

Tip 3: review the NetSuite error log if the upload fails.  This will tell us what went wrong, so that we can correct it.  Below is an example of an error log.

NetSuite error log
Fig. 8 – Review NetSuite error log

Keep in mind that it only shows one error at a time.  So, if your CSV file has more than one error, you have to do this over and over again until you have covered all errors and have fixed them.

Validate the Data

validate data steps
Fig. 9 – Validating the data in migration data process

The final step in the data migration process is validating data.  Here, we ensure that the uploaded data was entered in the correct fields.  There are 2 ways to validate.

Option 1: export the data into Excel and perform a detailed validation by comparing it to the original file

Option 2: look at the data uploaded in NetSuite itself

If any of the data is incorrect, you have to delete the details for the entry and re-do the process to ensure accuracy.

Here is a recap of the data migration process:

  1. Identify Data to Migrate
  2. Prepare CSV File
  3. Upload Data in NetSuite
  4. Resolve Errors
  5. Validation

In future postings, we go into more details and we actually go into NetSuite and see how these steps are actually performed.

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