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SAP Business One vs NetSuite: Real Insights for CXOs in 2024

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ERP Selection & Management SAP Business One

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By shawn
image of conceptual representation of decision-making framework for ERP selection

If you wanted to launch a space rocket, copying NASA’s playbook might sound entirely logical; they’ve launched more of them than anyone else. But that approach might also be entirely wrong. Deploying an ERP system — like SAP Business One or NetSuite — is a lot like that.

While nowhere near as complicated as sending a rocket to space, ERP implementation is also highly context dependent.

Consider the example of SpaceX.

Their goal was to reduce the cost of space travel. Initially, they looked to existing methods and technologies. This led to several failures that nearly bankrupted the company.

It wasn’t until they pivoted to a completely different approach (in this case, reusable launch vehicles) that they finally obtained the desired outcomes.

The point is: the allure of copying a successful model that worked for someone else is tempting. But for effective ERP implementation, as with rocket launches, the challenges and priorities specific to each business mean that a one-size-fits-all answer rarely exists.

What worked for NASA didn’t work for SpaceX, and an ERP that works for another organization — even if they’re in the exact same business as yours — may not necessarily work for you.

This means, when comparing SAP B1 and NetSuite, determining the right ERP needs frameworks, not feature lists.

This Clients First guide gives you everything you need to figure out what matters and what doesn’t for your business, and how to evaluate this as a decision-maker.

Under the Hood: SAP Business One vs. NetSuite

Strip away the marketing, and most mature ERP systems today have similar capabilities.

The question isn’t so much whether an ERP system can do X or Y things that you want it to do, but how easily it lets you achieve those things, in the context of your existing systems, workflows, and teams.

So, here are the substantive differences between SAP Business One and NetSuite that actually matter.

FeatureSAP Business OneNetSuite
DeploymentFlexible: On-premise, private cloud, or public cloud options.Exclusively cloud-based (Software-as-a-Service).
Business GrowthFocused on small to mid-sized businesses.Typically used by businesses at the larger end of the mid-market segment.
Integration and CustomizationHigh degree of flexibility, including add-ons, and deeper code-level customization.Customization available, but typically within a more limited framework using NetSuite’s SuiteCloud tools.
Other ConsiderationsStrong industry-specific solutions. Extensive partner network for implementation support.May require specialized technical skills for managing customizations and integrations.
PricingLicensing through partners. Can be tailored with options like perpetual or subscription licenses.Subscription-based. Can be complex, with potential for less transparent, long-term costs.

Deployment Models and What They Mean for Your Business

Cloud deployment allows for lower upfront costs and faster implementation — at least, in theory. 

There have been growing reports of companies leaving the cloud, and cost is one of the main reasons. Six out of 10 businesses find that their cloud costs are higher than anticipated.

On the other hand, while on-premise deployment grants greater control, it also demands IT investment.

Here’s how SAP Business One and NetSuite stack up when it comes to deployment.

Deployment Type>On-premiseCloud-based
Scenarios in which it makes senseStrict regulatory compliance, heavy customization, existing IT infrastructureRapid Implementation, scalability needs, limited IT resources
SAP Business One✅ 
NetSuite

On-Premise Scenarios

If you’re in an industry with stringent data sovereignty requirements, such as government or defense sectors, storing data in-house might be mandatory.

Alternatively, if you have highly specialized, unique workflows needing deep integration, you might require the control granted by on-premise deployment. We see this often with businesses reliant on legacy systems, like many industrial manufacturers and infrastructure operators.

And lastly, if your business already has in-house IT infrastructure and teams, leveraging that might be a no-brainer.

In all of these scenarios, SAP Business One’s on-premise and hybrid options offer a degree of control that NetSuite struggles to match.

Cloud-Based Scenarios

If your business is experiencing rapid growth or unpredictable demand fluctuations, the elasticity that cloud solutions provide becomes a business imperative.

The same is true of distributed workforces and remote teams.

Or perhaps you need the relatively faster implementation timelines, or lower IT overheads that come with cloud-based systems.

In this case, SAP Business One and NetSuite will likely both check all the boxes on the deployment front. This shifts the decisive factors elsewhere.

Business Growth: SAP Business One vs Netsuite

Matching your ERP system’s capabilities to current and projected growth is an art.

Overinvesting in features for potential future needs can be expensive and add unmanageable complexity too soon. Conversely, a system that cannot evolve with your business growth will stifle growth and be disruptive in the long run.

When choosing between SAP Business One and Netsuite, use this simplified framework:

Framework for Matching Your Growth Needs to the Right ERP

1. Determine growth drivers: Is growth driven by new product lines, increased market share, or geographic expansion? Each of these growth patterns affects the types of capabilities the ERP needs.

2. Map growth drivers to feature sets. For instance:

  • Growth from increased market share: Focus on CRM robustness, marketing integrations, and capacity for high sales volume.
  • Growth from new product lines: Focus on flexible inventory management, robust production planning features, and the ability to handle new BOMs (Bill of Materials).
  • Growth through geographic expansion: Consider multi-currency and multi-language capabilities and the potential need for integrations with international logistics and supply chain management.

Typically, larger businesses tend to have more redundancy in their teams and processes, which allows them to use more rigid, standardized processes. Smaller teams tend to require more flexibility and, therefore, more customized workflows.

This is one reason why nimbler, faster teams tend to favor SAP Business One for being the more flexible and customizable platform. NetSuite is more common with businesses at the larger end of the mid-market spectrum.

Integration with Third-Party Applications

A comprehensive comparison of all third-party integrations for both SAP Business One and NetSuite is practically impossible, as both systems have hundreds, if not thousands, of potential integrations across various categories.

Plus, these app ecosystems are constantly expanding.

That said, you can still compare integrations that are crucial for your specific business context.

Get stakeholders across your team, from different business functions, to put together the key software tools that your business uses.

Here’s an example.

CategoryExamplesConsiderations
CRMSalesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, HubSpot, Pipedrive, ZohoEstablish whether your tools involve any custom or legacy applications
EcommerceShopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, SuiteCommerce, AmazonRelevant if your business model relies on online sales
Logistics & ShippingDHL, FedEx, UPS, ShipStationIntegration is critical for efficient supply chain and order management
Marketing AutomationMarketo, Mailchimp, PardotIf you have complex marketing and lead nurturing needs
Financial & AccountingQuickbooks, Xero, Tax compliance softwareCheck if the proposed ERP integrates with your existing accounting tools or country-specific tax software
Industry-SpecificVast number of specialized tools catering to nichesYour industry is the key determining factor here

How to find the information for this table:

  • Industry-Focused Forums: Seek communities and discussions relevant to your niche. Other businesses likely share experiences with valuable third-party integrations.
  • Partner Consultation: Implementation partners specializing in SAP B1 or Netsuite will be intimately familiar with the most common and successful integrations in your domain.
  • Vendor Marketplaces: Both SAP Business One and Netsuite have app stores or marketplaces where you can browse integration categories and popular partners. Explore their partner network and the availability of third-party solutions. This impacts how easily the system can expand alongside your business complexity.

Pricing and Total Cost of Ownership of SAP B1 vs Netsuite

Let’s be real: pricing on ERP software is always complicated.

We’ve often said that the first good ERP solution to offer pricing that doesn’t need a spreadsheet to figure out, will win customers on the strength of that alone.

Fortunately, we’ve done the number crunching for you, and offer a comprehensive quick reckoner to compare Netsuite and SAP Business One.

Generally speaking, SAP Business One has a relatively more straightforward pricing model, based on user licenses with either perpetual ownership or subscriptions.

NetSuite has slightly more convoluted pricing, with a subscription-based model where cost increases based on users and the functionality you need.

And of course, remember that TCO goes beyond the license fees. Implementation, training, ongoing customization, maintenance, and potential upgrades need careful budgeting with both options.

Here’s a table explaining how they compare:

Pricing ComponentNetSuiteSAP Business One
Base Platform FeeCovers basic NetSuite functions; part of the total cost structureIncluded in the total cost structure; forms the foundation for system usage
Optional ModulesAdditional functionality available at extra cost; enhances system capabilitiesVarious modules available for specific needs; can be added for additional fees
Number of UsersDetermines user access and pricing tier; impacts overall system costUser-based pricing model; more users may increase licensing and support costs
Service TiersStandard, Premium, Enterprise, Ultimate with varying features and limitsDifferent tiers with varying features and support levels; tailored to needs
Initial Setup FeesImplementation costs based on project scope and complexity; one-time expenseInitial setup costs vary based on customization and integration requirements
Annual User FeesYearly fees based on user count and selected service tier; recurring expenseUser-based fees for ongoing system access and support; part of operational costs
Contract LengthMinimum one-year commitment with yearly renewals; potential price adjustmentsFlexible contract lengths with options for long-term commitments
Additional FunctionalityVertical editions, customizations available for specific industry needsVarious modules, customizations for specific business requirements
Implementation CostsVariable based on project complexity; can be spread out to manage cash flowImplementation expenses depend on customization, data migration, training needs
Renewal PolicyYearly renewals with possible price increases at the end of each termRenewal terms may include price adjustments based on usage or new feature access

Next Steps

Here’s a quick bird’s-eye view of how the on-premise and cloud deployments of SAP B1 and NetSuite compare.

Decision FactorSAP B1 (On-premise)SAP B1 (Cloud)NetSuite (Cloud only)
Scalability (Short-Term)Requires careful planningEasier, more flexibleEasier, more flexible
Future Expansion (Long-Term)Highest flexibility, wider ecosystemGood flexibility, though some limitsCan hit limits with heavy customization
CustomizationExtensive customizationModerate customizationPrioritizes standardized processes
Legacy IntegrationsWorks well even with complex integrationsThere are some challenges, but improvingRelatively limited integrations
Cost ConsiderationsUpfront investment, potentially higher initial outlayShifts to subscription modelSubscription model, add-on costs can quickly accumulate

But let’s be honest: despite this framework, evolving consensus and clarity within your teams can be challenging. After all, thinking about ERP systems all day is probably not all that you have to do. That’s our wheelhouse. Book a free, 30-minute discovery call with our ERP experts.

We’re happy to help you figure out the right solution for your specific business needs. And of course, no pushy sales pitches — guaranteed.

shawn walter

Account Executive New Jersey