For the first time, cloud-based ERP pioneer NetSuite is introducing a certification for consultants, responding to what partners say was a call for differentiation in the market.
NetSuite’s describes its ERP Consultant Certification program as the first of its kind in the cloud ERP industry, and that the program was designed at the request, and with the help, of its partner base. Dean Sprankling, vice president of worldwide education services at NetSuite, said the certification was designed to be easily attainable for those who’ve put in the time implementing the company’s products.
“People with about two years of experience – five to ten implementations – have what it takes to get the certification,” Sprankling said. “From our perspective, we wanted our customers to be able to validate the competency of the consultants out there in the marketplace. Saying you have five years of NetSuite experience doesn’t mean anything. Now there’s a bar people have to achieve.”
The certification will help partners to establish their value over those who’ve dabbled in NetSuite, said Martin McNicoll, CEO of Montreal-based ERP Guru, a large NetSuite partner that has already more than half a dozen of its own people through the certification while it was in beta. The company’s goal, he said, is to have everyone in the organization certified as quickly as possible.
By having a vendor-controlled certification, McNicoll said he expects to be able to differentiate against partners who may know some aspects of implementing NetSuite, but may not be able to manage a fully successful implementation on their own.
“NetSuite is simple, but it’s not easy. As the platform has become more popular, we’ve seen a lot of people who’ve done a small part of an implementation start promoting themselves as NetSuite consultants. That can mean a really hit or miss experience for customers,” McNicoll said. “We were among the first to push for this certification. We want this to be upfront in that partners have to get certified. It recognizes our value and all the good stuff that we’ve done with our customers.”
The program does not have formal training requirements – as Sprankling puts it, it’s been designed with the help of partners so that those who have experience in implementing NetSuite already know what they need to know to pass the exams. To earn the certification, a consultant has to pass two tests, one that covers the breadth of the NetSuite platform, and one that focuses in depth around the core ERP functionality. The exams carry a price tag of $250 each, meaning the cost to a partner is $500 for each resource certified.
“Compared to SAP and others, it’s nothing,” McNicoll said, recalling back to his days selling other ERP platforms.
The company has about 100 partners certified through the beta version of the program, and another hundred of its own consultants through the certification. Eventually, Sprankling said, it should be a must-have for partners of all sizes.
“It was a real collaboration with our partners to formalize this. It was driven by our partners in large extent, down to the questions on the exam,” he said.
By next year, the company plans to expand its certifications, introducing also a certification for developers building off the NetSuite platform, as well as a more customer-facing certification for NetSuite administrators.