NetSuite OpenAir vs SuiteProjects: Comparing NetSuite PSA Systems

NetSuite PSA Comparison: OpenAir vs SuiteProjects 

Debating between which NetSuite PSA is best? We wrote this article to help you decide. 

We're comparing NetSuite's two professional services automation (PSA) solutions: SuiteProjects and OpenAir. 

Here's how they compare, how they differ, and how to choose the right one for your business. 

What is NetSuite Professional Services Automation (PSA)? 

Professional Services Automation solutions, or PSA, help companies optimize resources for project-based tasks. This includes everything from planning out time and budget constraints for new projects to managing resources while working on a project. 

PSA is most useful for service-based businesses that work based on billable hours. This includes companies such as marketing agencies, advertising agencies, law firms, IT consultants, or any other type of business with project-based work. 

Both PSA solutions discussed in this guide will help your business: 

  • Improve profit margins on projects
  • Increase profitability 
  • Better utilize resources 
  • Gain real-time visibility into projects
  • Reduce non-billable hours 
  • Ensure clients are billed accurately and on time 

However, there are a few major differences between SuiteProjects and OpenAir that could be the deciding factor for your company – here's how they compare. 

What is NetSuite OpenAir?

NetSuite OpenAir is a cloud-based PSA software. It offers real-time visibility, 24/7 access from any device, as well as support and advanced automation for every aspect of a service delivery organization. Plus, it lets users easily manage resources on an international level

With over 1,500 customers around the world, NetSuite touts OpenAir as "the most complete solution in the market."

Pros of NetSuite OpenAir 

Near-Limitless Configuration 

OpenAir has virtually infinite customization options, so it can be tailored to your business specifications. The best part about this, though, is that it doesn't require expensive custom coding – all of the customization options are natively available right in the software. 

It's a Powerful Global Solution

OpenAir provides real-time data for companies with: 

  • Global service pools
  • Multi-currency needs
  • Multi-subsidiaries
  • Multi-taxation requirements 
  • Multi-language 

This is one of the aspects of NetSuite OpenAir that differentiates it from SuiteProjects. OpenAir is a truly global solution with the ability to support complicated international requirements right out of the box. This allows users to easily bill invoices for the time they spent working on a project with the proper currency, time zone, and tax requirements. 

Seamless Integration with External Enterprise Systems 

Integrating NetSuite OpenAir with any existing back-office or front-office systems is a smooth process. 

NetSuite OpenAir isn’t meant to be its own PSA software. This means your business will have other programs that need to talk to OpenAir to realize the full capabilities of this PSA software. 

Integrating OpenAir with all of your existing systems helps automate tedious manual processes, improves revenue, and contributes to accurate reporting and decision making. 

OpenAir is great with:: 

  • Front-office integrations utilize prebuilt connections with CRM and SFA systems. This allows data to flow freely between sales and OpenAir. 
  • Back-office system integrations take advantage of pre-built integrations from accounting and ERP systems. This unites data between OpenAir and company financials, inventory, billing, project management, and more. 

Unique PSA Functionalities 

OpenAir has a few unique features that aren't easy to find with other PSA solutions, including: 

  • Advanced expensive management - OpenAir made it easy for employees to submit expenses. They can use the app or web browser on any mobile device, and can even photograph receipts to add as expenses. 
  • Offline access for timesheet management - OpenAir is accessible from anywhere, even if you don't have internet access. You can set up comprehensive timesheets from any location, even if you're traveling and don't have internet access. This ensures no time is unaccounted for. 
  • Modeling "what if" scenarios - OpenAir excels at modeling projects. Whether it's an ongoing project or you're looking to measure the profitability of a new client, you can gain insights that help you optimize price, billing rates, staffing, and profitability. 

Cons of NetSuite OpenAir 

Not the Best Solution for Small Companies 

OpenAir is best for large organizations or companies with complex projects. 

Previous users have mentioned that it's not the best solution for small companies for two reasons: the first reason is the higher cost of the software. Smaller companies, or businesses that are just getting started, probably don't have a large budget for software. While the whole goal of a PSA system is to help your company make more money, there is an initial investment cost. 

The second reason is that, in a small company, it's common for different employees' duties to overlap. For example, someone might jump in to help another team even if it isn't their primary duty. This can cause issues with resource allocation and billing, as it's all tied to specific roles and capabilities.

There is a Learning Curve

As with any new software, NetSuite OpenAir has a bit of a learning curve to it. If you have some technically-savvy staff, they might be able to figure out how to navigate it. Otherwise, you'll likely need to seek out training services either from NetSuite or a licensed NetSuite Solutions Provider. 

While it will take some getting used to, users say that once you understand how to navigate the software, it's easy and functional! 

What is NetSuite SuiteProjects?

NetSuite SuiteProjects is the PSA solution natively built within NetSuite. This means it's the default PSA software you'll have if you choose to add it to your NetSuite solution. 

When combined with NetSuite's CRM, HR, and ERP systems, you'll have everything you need to run your business in one place. 

Just like NetSuite OpenAir, SuiteProjects helps companies streamline operations, enhance profitability, optimize resource management, and make better business decisions. 

Pros of NetSuite SuiteProjects

Helps Complete Projects Quicker 

All of the features in SuiteProjects help businesses finish projects faster, freeing up time for even more billable hours. 

A few ways SuiteProjects helps companies finish projects faster than usual include: 

  • Automated invoicing 
  • Flexible billing options that can be based around scheduled dates, project milestones, or completed work rather than a fully completed project 
  • Optimized resource management makes sure employees are utilizing their time as effectively as possible
  • Real-time reporting so you can quickly pivot resource allocation as needed 

All of these features are also available with NetSuite OpenAir. 

Advanced Reporting Capabilities 

If you're a service-based business, the features of a PSA software are all but required for daily operations. NetSuite SuiteProjects contains real-time, on-demand data that help you monitor and optimize project performance. 

For example, you can quickly spot projects at risk of budget overages, assign new resources, and resolve any other issues that you might not have noticed before. 

Accessible Anytime, Anywhere 

NetSuite SuiteProjects works on all mobile devices, so you can always check in on ongoing projects whether you're in the office or on the go. As long as you have internet access, you'll be able to use SuiteProjects. 

This makes it easy to keep track of any billable work being done remotely or at client sites. 

Cons of NetSuite SuiteProjects

Add Ons Needed to Match Capabilities of NetSuite OpenAir 

While SuiteProjects has a ton of great PSA features for service-based businesses, it requires quite a few add ons to be on par with OpenAir. 

For example: 

  • You'll need to purchase NetSuite Advanced Revenue Management to automate complex revenue calculations and allocations, or to support multiple-revenue scenarios
  • Purchasing NetSuite OneWorld is necessary if your business works with multiple subsidiaries, has locations in multiple countries, or needs to bill based on different currencies and taxation rates 

Doesn't Integrate with External Systems 

SuiteProjects is native to NetSuite. It's not capable of integrating with other external systems a business might be using. It assumes you'll be using NetSuite for all business processes, including SuitePeople, NetSuite FInancials, CRM, and ERP. 

SuiteProjects vs OpenAir: How They Compare 

Don't get us wrong – SuiteProjects and OpenAir have their similarities when it comes to basic functionalities. 

They both: 

  • Offer powerful, cloud-based PSA software 
  • Optimize resources to help deliver projects on time and within budget 
  • Maximize profitability with each project 
  • Allocate resources to complete projects as quickly as possible 
  • Provide real-time, valuable insights into business metrics 
  • Expedite billing cycles 
  • Reduce invoice errors 

SuiteProjects vs OpenAir: How They Differ 

While they share many commonalities, there are some major differences between SuiteProjects and OpenAir. 

OpenAir is More Customizable 

NetSuite promises virtually endless customization options with NetSuite OpenAir, which doesn't even involve a complicated codebase. 

On the other hand, SuiteProjects is natively built within NetSuite, so there isn't as much room for customization there. That doesn't mean it's impossible to customize SuiteProjects, but it wasn't necessarily built to be a hyper-custom solution like OpenAir was. 

OpenAir Has a Lot More Functionality Built In 

OpenAir is built with the abilities to manage international, multi-language, multi-currency, and multi-subsidiary companies. If you used SuiteProjects, you would have to purchase NetSuite OneWorld to obtain those functionalities. 

Also, OpenAir is capable of complex accounting automation, while SuiteProjects requires NetSuite Advanced Revenue Management for these same features. 

Even though OpenAir might have a higher price tag than SuiteProjects, if you need those additional capabilities and have to keep purchasing additional NetSuite bundles, the costs are going to start adding up. 

OpenAir Integrates with External Systems 

OpenAir was built to be a cloud PSA solution for businesses whether they use NetSuite for other business functions or not. In comparison, SuiteProjects is native to NetSuite and is seen as one part of NetSuite's larger business software that also encompasses ERP, CRM, and HR services. 

OpenAir doesn't have to integrate solely with NetSuite – it can connect to both front and back-office systems with ease. 

The Bottom Line on NetSuite's PSA Systems 

If your business doesn't need all of the bells and whistles of fancy PSA software, NetSuite SuiteProjects should work well for you. However, if you have complex business needs, are looking for advanced automation and financials, or don't want to use NetSuite for every aspect of your business, OpenAir might be the better choice. 

Need Help Finding the Best PSA Solution?

Of course, there's no way we can generalize which NetSuite PSA is best for your business without actually knowing your business and what it needs. 

Contact us today to set up a free consultation with our cloud software experts. We can walk you through all of the options and discuss how they could best benefit your exact business needs.

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