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embark From audit to ERP pro how to become a NetSuite consultant_v2-05

The typical auditor's career path doesn't leave much to the imagination. Even so, there's something to be said for the structured development paths, diverse client base, and world-class learning opportunities public accounting firms afford. All good things.

Yet, there's been a growing rumble across public accounting over the last few years, with more and more accountants gravitating towards technology-focused positions. As a result, roles like NetSuite ERP implementation specialist and strategic advisor are seeing an undeniable – and well-justified – surge in attention.

So, on that note, let’s take a closer look at the transition from Big 4 auditor to NetSuite consultant to see exactly what it entails.

NetSuite: The Game-Changing ERP

NetSuite, the cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and topic du jour, embodies the technology and consulting niche capturing so many imaginations across auditing and accounting these days. At its heart, the NetSuite solution is a powerful software suite that acts as a central command center, where departments, functions, and capabilities like finance, CRM, sales, inventory, ecommerce, and more converge into a single, shared platform.

Thanks to this unified approach, companies can eliminate clunky data silos and streamline crucial processes, giving their decision-makers the type of relevant, accurate, timely information that was the stuff of daydreams just a few years ago.

Such abilities, of course, make a NetSuite consultant a real difference-maker for companies, helping them address their business needs through a new holistic lens that drives efficiency, generates business intelligence, and keeps stakeholders smiling.

Long story short – for an accountant or auditor who understands those business needs as well as NetSuite's powerful platform, the sky's the limit on the career path front.

Reasons to Switch from Audit to NetSuite Consultant

But enough of the high-level stuff. Let's get into the nitty-gritty and take a closer look at the impact NetSuite expertise can have on your career trajectory. Needless to say, if you're an accountant or auditor considering such a change, NetSuite consulting offers several compelling advantages:

  • Gaining a Strategic Edge: ERP systems are rapidly becoming the backbone of modern businesses, with NetSuite products one of a handful of ERPs leading the way. Thus, mastering all things NetSuite will position you as a valuable asset, providing in-demand skills to companies eager to maximize technology investments. This expertise offers more than just job security – it makes you an influential partner in a client's decision-making process.
  • Breaking Free From Audit Limitations: Although obviously crucial, audit work can feel repetitive and offers limited options for truly transformative problem-solving. NetSuite consulting provides opportunities to see your work's immediate, positive impact on a client's daily operations and long-term growth.
  • Standing Out in a Crowded Field: The accounting field is extensive and competitive. Developing NetSuite expertise allows you to carve out a distinct niche, boosting your appeal to potential employers. You'll transition from one of many accountants to a sought-after specialist.
  • Fulfillment in Problem-Solving: As a NetSuite consultant, you'll work on real-world business challenges, optimizing processes, driving efficiency, and helping clients leverage data more strategically. That usually means improved workflows, cost savings, and a competitive edge for your clients – all incredibly rewarding to a consultant.
  • Tech-Savvy Future of Accounting: Understanding how technology intersects with accounting principles sets you up for continuous success. Proficiency in platforms like NetSuite ensures you're prepared for the field's evolving business requirements and keeps you ahead of the curve.
  • Unlimited Growth Potential: Technology consulting boasts dynamic career paths. From implementation to customization and optimization, data analytics, and even custom development, there's always room to branch out and expand your expertise. Plus, you'll continuously gain exposure to various industries, learning about business challenges you’d probably never encounter in a traditional audit role.

The bottom line – transitioning to NetSuite consultant isn't about fleeing audit. Instead, people make the move because they crave the type of creative problem-solving, client impact, specialization, and growth opportunities that NetSuite consulting affords.

What Does a NetSuite Consultant Do?

Switching to the more day-to-day aspects of the role, NetSuite consultants aren't mere software specialists or installers. Far from it. They're business strategists, technology educators, and problem solvers all rolled into one.

Influencing Business Strategy

NetSuite consultants empower businesses to make better decisions. The platform provides real-time data and customizable reports, offering vital insights into sales trends, financial health, and oh-so-much more. Consultants assist clients in interpreting this data and making critical strategic choices.

Client Educators

A significant part of the job is ensuring clients feel confident using NetSuite to its full potential. Consultants can provide training courses, sample tests, webinars, study guides, tutorials, and ongoing support, helping users become super users themselves.

Problem-Solvers Extraordinaire

Every business faces unique hurdles. Dedicated NetSuite partners and consultants excel at creative problem-solving, leveraging their deep platform knowledge to find clever workarounds and innovative solutions to streamline operations. On any given day, you might be tackling:

  • ERP Implementation: Guiding companies through the entire NetSuite migration and adoption process – understanding needs, configuring the system, and ensuring a smooth rollout.
  • Customization: Adjusting NetSuite's features to perfectly align with a client's unique operations and workflow requirements.
  • Optimization: Helping established NetSuite end users get the absolute most from the platform, identifying ways to boost efficiency and streamline processes.
  • Strategic Advisory: Acting as a trusted advisor, recommending technology solutions that align with a business's strategic goals and drive digital transformation.
  • Client Consulting: Building relationships, actively listening to understand a client's pain points and desired outcomes.
  • System Analysis: Diving deep into business operations, mapping processes, and identifying where NetSuite can provide solutions.
  • ERP Solution Design: Translating complex business needs into practical NetSuite configurations and developing tailor-made strategies.

Further, NetSuite's flexibility benefits businesses of all sizes and across different industries.

  • Manufacturing: Optimize inventory management, production planning, and supply chains. 
  • Healthcare: Manage patient data, streamline billing, and improve operations.
  • Retail: Manage omnichannel sales, inventory tracking, and customer data for seamless operations.
  • Growth Equity Portcos: Support rapid scalability, gain data insights, and streamline financial reporting.
  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service): Manage subscription models, recurring billing, usage metrics, and support financial compliance crucial for SaaS businesses.

And that's just a drop in the proverbial bucket. Ultimately, NetSuite consultants wear many hats, from business analysts to technical instructors, solution architects, and trusted advisors. It's a dynamic and collaborative role that's usually an excellent fit for people wanting to roll up their sleeves and really help organizations reach their potential.

Challenges in Becoming a NetSuite Consultant

Of course, no career change is all rainbows and unicorns. Despite the many benefits we've already discussed, you’re likely to face a few challenges as well. 

  • Learning Curve and Pressure: You won't crawl out of bed one morning and suddenly become a NetSuite expert. Mastering the platform – and the consulting mindset itself – takes time and dedicated effort. Thus, be prepared for an initial period of intensive learning, which can sometimes feel overwhelming.
  • Problem Identification to Solution Design: Auditors are skilled at identifying discrepancies, risks, and areas for improvement. While analytical skills are still essential, NetSuite consultants specialize in proactive solution design. This switch from a "finding problems" mindset to developing and implementing solutions is a critical adjustment.
  • Holistic Understanding of Business Processes: NetSuite implementations impact far more than just accounting. Consultants must develop a firm grasp of broader business operations like sales, inventory management, and even CRM functionality. Big 4 auditors typically have more specialized knowledge, often making this broader business process view a new challenge.
  • Adaptation to a New Career Identity: Technology consulting has different rhythms and demands than traditional accounting or auditing. Those switching will need to adjust to agile project work, direct client communication, and potentially less predictable hours depending on the solution provider they work for.
  • Client Relationship Management: Expanding on the previous point, although auditors interact with clients, the consulting relationship is fundamentally different. Consultants take a more collaborative, advisory role. Developing these relationship-building skills, establishing trust, and managing client expectations throughout a project lifecycle are crucial for success in a NetSuite consulting role.

We're not trying to be a bunch of Debbie Downers here, though. Just realistic. Still, those who thrive on problem-solving, find new technologies exciting, and want to make tangible contributions to business success often find NetSuite consulting an incredibly fulfilling – albeit challenging – career path. We just want you to walk into it fully informed on the road ahead.

Best Practices in Making the Career Change

Once you decide to take the NetSuite consulting plunge, keep a handful of strategies in mind to help make the transition as smooth and successful as possible.

  • Education and the NetSuite Certification Program: Invest in structured learning pathways that begin with the fundamentals and eventually lead to NetSuite ERP consultant certification, starting with the foundational SuiteFoundation certification. Prioritizing specialized NetSuite training and certification exams demonstrates advanced expertise and can open doors to niche projects. For instance, someone with SuiteCloud Developer II certification will be well-versed in SuiteAnalytics, SuiteFlow, SuiteTalk, SuiteBundler, SuiteBuilder, and SuiteScript, all highly-valued, essential skills in either implementing or optimizing the NetSuite solution.
  • Finding a Mentor or Cohort: Mentors with years of experience in NetSuite consulting can provide valuable guidance, technical troubleshooting, and insights into the day-to-day realities of the job. Additionally, cohort-based learning environments offer built-in support networks and accelerated knowledge acquisition.
  • Building a Technological Mindset: Besides getting NetSuite certified, simply embracing a passion for technology will go a long way in advancing your new career. Cultivate curiosity about improving business processes and efficiency with software solutions. Stay updated on emerging trends within the ERP space to position yourself for long-term success, including critical areas like AI, machine learning, automation, and the like.
  • Networking: Proactively network within the NetSuite community and wider tech circles. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and connect with NetSuite professionals. Such connections can lead to future job opportunities, mentorships, or simply inspiration and a better understanding of the field's landscape, exposing you to cutting-edge trends and potential areas of specialization.
  • Practical Experience: Seek opportunities for hands-on NetSuite exposure, even before landing a full-time consulting role. This could involve internships, projects with your current employer, or even pro-bono work for small businesses eager to explore NetSuite.
  • Leveraging Past Experiences: Don’t forget – an auditing background is a real asset. The hard and soft skills in an auditor's toolbox – project management, process analysis, attention to detail, and client communication, amongst many, many others – can transfer beautifully into an ERP consultant role. During your job search, emphasize how these qualities, combined with your newfound NetSuite knowledge, would benefit clients.

  • Cultural Fit and Integration into the Tech Space: Research the values and work style of potential employers within the NetSuite consulting world. Find a firm that matches your pace, collaboration preferences, and desired work-life balance.

Embark: The Next Step in Your Career Path

So, where do you go from here? Well, our best practices are a good start. Ask around, look at people who have already forged the audit-to-tech consultant path, and pick their brains. Just because you're traversing new career territory doesn't mean you're at it alone.

Most importantly, develop a sense of direction. Focus on that ideal future state, the one where you get out of bed every morning with a spring in your step. A grin on your face. An appreciation for what you get to do each day. For many – and possibly you – that means helping companies leverage NetSuite into a decisive competitive advantage.

So, if for whatever reason, a Big 4 audit practice isn't scratching that career itch anymore, find a place that will allow you to explore your curiosities and find your niche. Not coincidentally, Embark just happens to be one of those places, where we genuinely, enthusiastically, whole-heartedly encourage our people to expand their horizons. And no one's going to look at you sideways for doing so. In fact, we encourage it. So let’s talk and see how a future in NetSuite consulting might fit you.


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