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  • Writer's pictureLarecha Wynn

Building Teams for CFO Led Transformations

Updated: Jan 28

A simplified approach to curating your Netsuite implementation team

On average, organizations implement a new ERP system every 5-10 years. Typically, it takes about five years for an organization to fully settle into a new ERP system. Around the seven-year mark, they often start looking for ways to optimize the system to better meet their business needs. Each optimization attempt demands significant time, energy, and resources.

Today’s leaders require immediate ROI and can’t afford to wait 5 years for post implementation stability. This begins with putting together a team capable of ensuring 120 months of consistent, operational alignment.

For Netsuite to be a long-term, reliable hub for decision-making, collaboration, and a creative platform for visionary executives and managers, careful attention is needed from the start.

This blog will offer a practical approach for assessing your project team. As a non-technical leader with limited time and resources, you'll learn how to build your team and identify and fill any gaps.


Table of Contents

How can a non-technical leader assemble the right team?


How can a non-technical leader assemble the right team?

If you're stuck in the pre-implementation or mid-implementation phase, wondering whether your team can effectively drive the project forward, this blog is for you.

Is the traditional RACI sufficient?

The RACI model is a popular framework used to define project team roles and responsibilities. It addresses four groups of team members including:

  • Responsible: The individuals actively executing tasks and making pivotal decisions.

  • Accountable: This person is the ultimate overseer, ensuring task completion, quality, and adherence to project goals.

  • Consulted: Specialists who supply necessary insights, thereby guiding the accountable and responsible individuals.

  • Informed: This includes certain stakeholders who must be informed about the project's progress and outcomes.

Without a traditional Project Management Office (PMO), the conventional structure of RACI may lose its relevance. We need a more direct, agile and adaptable approach for business led project environments. It's essential to align with the project's vision and objectives, not just fulfill assigned roles.

The 'What, Why, Who' approach goes beyond the RACI framework to address the specific requirements of each project role. It ensures that every role and team member contributes directly to the project's broader goals. This method improves clarity, efficiency, and, ultimately, the success of finance transformation projects.

Your 7 Key Roles - The What, Why, Who method

For finance leaders overseeing Netsuite projects, it's essential to align key players effectively to handle the project's complexities. The 'What Why Who' method goes beyond the RACI to provide a more straightforward and streamlined approach.

This approach is especially advantageous for non-technical leaders aiming to lead successful transformations, as it eliminates the need to quickly become a project manager, Netsuite Administrator, or implementation consultant.

Building around your implementation consulting partner

A complete implementation team is more than your implementation consulting partner. The following are the essential team members and their justifications.

We cover the first 2 sections by asking "what do we need and why is this important?"

This is the "what" and the "why":

  1. SaaS Sales and Management: Vital to any Netsuite contract, the sales representative and account manager serve as primary contacts. They offer insights on editions, modules, and support to ensure the best-fit solution, using their experience with other clients to provide valuable references and resources.

  2. Vision and Oversight: The individual with the vision for utilizing Netsuite is crucial. This vision should be the project's North Star, guiding every decision to ensure alignment with the company's goals. This includes ultimate outcomes, timelines, and budget.

  3. Solution Design: A solution design is the first physical representation of the solution to your problem. It takes your unique and specific requirements and turns it into a system capable of solving your problems.

  4. Design Execution: Specialists implement the approved design, integrating Netsuite's features, forms, workflows, and scripts to realize the vision and bring it to life.

  5. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): SMEs play a crucial role in detailing processes. Their in-depth knowledge of cross-functional processes is essential for successful solution design, and implementation.

  6. Netsuite Expert Advisor: This advisor performs varied roles, including demonstration, education, advocacy, and validation of the implementation. They use extensive Netsuite knowledge to bridge the gap between technology and business, facilitating optimal end user acceptance, adoption, and overall satisfaction.

  7. Project Manager: The internal project manager coordinates various aspects of the project, ensuring seamless integration of both internal and external parties.

Depending on the scale and complexity of the project, it may also include third party solutions, data analysts, integrators and more.

A clear understanding of "what" and "why" clarifies each team member's role, guiding their contributions towards the project's success. Because we understand why each role is important, we are better prepared to fill the role with someone who is capable of delivering the necessary value.

This method clearly defines each participant's role and directs their contributions towards the project's success.

Building your Netsuite implementation team

The next step involves identifying the available resources, i.e., "who." This step will allow you to identify necessary resources and potential resource gaps.

  1. SaaS Sales and Management: The Netsuite sales representative and account manager roles are foundational. They align your organization with the appropriate Netsuite solutions, bringing insights about various editions, modules, and support services. This role may be filled by Netsuite or a Netsuite Alliance Partner.

  2. Vision and Oversight: CFOs spearhead the most impactful Netsuite projects. This strategic choice stems from the CFO's comprehensive perspective on the company's financials. An intimate knowledge of inflows and outflows, budget management, and compliance adherence is critical. CFOs have typically served as mere stakeholders who may have been consulted or informed per the traditional RACI. However, when the CFO is involved from the start as a visionary and oversight leader, the project is more likely to be on time, on budget, and deliver mission critical outcomes.

  3. Solution Design: Entrusted to an experienced implementation partner, this phase encompasses project planning, solution development, customizations, configurations, data migration, comprehensive testing, and training. The team's industry-specific experience is crucial, enabling them to foresee and address potential challenges proactively.

  4. Design Execution: The implementation partner’s responsibility extends to executing the designed solution. Years of organization, industry, implementation, and individual experience inform their methodologies and strategies for effective execution.

  5. Subject Matter Experts: Controllers, FP&A professionals, customer service, fulfillment, and sales are integral to the project's success. Their in-depth company knowledge is essential for leading thorough requirements gathering and solution validation.

  6. Netsuite Expert: A dedicated Netsuite expert will come with finance systems experience. Finance systems experience combines finance and accounting knowledge with systems development principles. Above all, this role must be filled by someone with Netsuite knowledge and experience that allows them to assess and validate all solutions. This role is best filled by an experienced Netsuite Administrator.

  7. Project Management: Certain organizations rely on their IT team to provide project management support. Although the role of IT varies, they are often successful in project management and post-implementation assistance. They can be instrumental in providing user provisioning and API support. However, it would be best to determine their involvement based on their skill set.

What, Why, Who In Action

The "What, Why, Who" approach fills roles with individuals who have the right expertise and experience. This method prevents common issues like overloading unqualified staff and misaligning roles. These common pitfalls often lead to project failure and employee burnout before ever reaching the finish line.

Here is an example of the "What, Why, Who" method in action:





Prompt: Why does the project need a visionary? 

We need to document and communicate our ultimate goal for this implementation project. We need a North Star to mirror our growth, scale, and operational efficiency goals.

Prompt: Who is most available and most capable of filling this role?

The CFO is ultimately responsible for communicating growth, scale, and operational efficiency.


The CFO is also responsible for accounting, finance, compliance, and departmental budgets.

Accounts Payable SME


Prompt: Why does the project need an AP SME?

We’re looking to automate 75% of all AP processes and implement vendor scorecards to support the procurement team.

Prompt: Who is most available and most capable of filling this role?

The AP manager manages all vendors, purchase orders, vendor payments by payment type and 3-way matching. The AP manager may have limited capacity.

Avoiding project pitfalls through team alignment

The above approach answers the question of what, why, and who but it also addresses potential capacity challenges.

Carefully evaluating each team member's capacity and capabilities is crucial. This approach is the foundation of a successful Netsuite implementation. Take the following considerations to avoid common pitfalls:

  • Controllers, for instance, might take on Netsuite roles in addition to their regular duties. Their lack of technical skills, Netsuite knowledge, and time often results misaligned solutions, missed deadlines, frustration, and burnout.

  • Similarly, customer service and fulfillment leads, when tasked as project leads, face challenges. Their lack of necessary skills and experience for high-stakes projects typically leads to unmet project goals.

  • Assess each individual and teams capabilities prior to assigning them to the implementation. Properly assigning roles based on strengths is vital for any project's success, especially for complex Netsuite implementations.

  • Carefully consider your IT team's role, as the extent of their involvement can vary greatly. Rather than assuming IT must participate, assess where their skills best fit within the project. Often, IT will lead finance transformation initiatives. The What, Why, Who approach encourages rethinking this. By focusing on selecting the most suitable individuals for each aspect of the project, the project is well skilled. While IT may excel in project management and post-implementation support, they might not be ideal for Netsuite-focused roles without relevant experience.

Early alignment requires assessing each team’s strengths and limitations. Ensuring that everyone, including IT, is effectively contributing based on their capabilities is essential. This strategic alignment is key to a successful implementation and avoiding the pitfalls of misaligned roles and responsibilities.

Strategically Building Your Team for Long-Term Netsuite Success

The journey to a successful Netsuite implementation demands careful consideration of each team member's unique strengths and limitations. It's imperative for non-technical leaders to recognize the importance of aligning the right individuals with the right roles.

This alignment goes beyond simply filling positions. It's about leveraging each person's specific expertise and experience to create a cohesive and capable team.

The "What, Why, Who" method serves as a guide to ensure that your team is  skilled and positioned to tackle the project's demands. By rethinking traditional approaches like the RACI model and assessing the specific contributions of each team member, including IT, leaders can drive their organizations towards ten plus years of Netsuite alignment.

This blog has laid out a clear path for you, the non-technical leader, to build and refine your team. It addresses common gaps and ensures that every member is a fit for their designated role.

With this approach, your Netsuite implementation will not only succeed but also set a standard for future finance transformations.

At Yellow Bag we help CFOs drive finance transformation with our Implementation Excellence services. From vendor selection to Netsuite administration and full implementation management, we are here to serve you.

If you're looking to expedite implementation success, book a call. We would love to discuss your Netsuite implementation.

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