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Freelancers vs. Managed Services: Breaking Through Your NetSuite Bottlenecks

Implementing and adopting NetSuite can be a complex and difficult undertaking, and making changes to the system, thereafter, is often tricky to facilitate, too. And yet, in business, changes are inevitable and as they occur, gaps are bound to appear; the longer they go unaddressed, the wider they will become. Every unaddressed gap creates a bottleneck, and breaking through these bottlenecks is essential if your drive is to get the most out of NetSuite every day of the year and realize the hope and optimism instilled in you during pre-sales originally.

Bottlenecks are a drag on productivity, and it is common for clients to attempt spot-fix improvements, keeping the system ‘standard issue’ or instilling a culture of user self-training to overcome them. Unfortunately, however, these approaches do not typically provide full coverage of needs or a sustainable long-term solution. One of the first things that clients realize is that the key to long-term success is focusing on continuous improvement and getting independent practical guidance on how to run the system better. To this end, the driving force of all clients we interact with is to find resources that “understand the business”, “gel with the users”, “build trust with management” and most importantly, “have a solid understanding of the system's capabilities and how it is practically used”. Without these core attributes, growth and improvement will be elusive and bottlenecks will remain. The struggle is, that like all ERP systems, NetSuite needs a mix of skills (functional, technical, tactical, and strategic) to unlock the full value available. Hiring a freelancer or outsourcing to a managed service provider could be your best option. To consider these alternatives, let us look a little deeper at these two (2) agents for change:

  • Freelancer - a skilled individual contributor employed as an independent agent of change

  • Managed Service Provider - a skilled service provider retained as an independent agent of change

The key difference is that the freelancer is an individual contributor, while the managed service provider is an organized team of contributors. It is possible to form a team of freelancers, however, in our experience, this approach never achieves the expectations set as it is a tricky organism to manage mostly because there is no “single neck to ring”.

To fully understand the opportunity cost between these alternatives, it is important to consider their risks:



Managed Service

Solution Awareness

​Potentially complete, but likely with limited structure and methodology for maintenance and change control.

​A complete view, with a proven methodology for maintenance and change control to ensure long-term continuity and growth.

Skills Matrix

​No one person is a jack of all trades with NetSuite, and limitations in knowledge are real. They know what they know, and rely on informal communication channels to fill gaps.

​A team of experts following the same success methodology and enabled in all modules and all markets.

Customer Focus

By definition, they work for many clients and are constrained by their expertise, value, and time.

​Our Success Analyst's focus is on their appointed client, and they are not constrained by knowledge, time, quality, or value, because they engage within a multi-skilled team.


Freelancers often have inconsistent service delivery standards because they are a singular resource with a singular set of skills. Often, there is no proven methodology being followed to ensure quality and continuity in service delivery.

​With a proven methodology for consistent and continuous service delivery, a Managed Service Provider offers a multi-skilled team of experts passionate about client success.

​User Support

Consistent service delivery in user support can be difficult to maintain when channeled through an individual resource stretched across clients and other maintenance and improvement projects.

​User support is a skill set within a Manager Service framework providing a consistent response to triage users, with an ability to escalate issues into expert skills available in the team.

In our opinion, these risks are real and for the freelancer, they stem from a single issue: they are an individual contributor and are thus constrained by their own skills and capabilities. The Managed Service Provider, on the other hand, addresses these risks with a refined approach built on the business success pillar of teamwork.


Closing bottlenecks effectively and getting onto a pathway for long-term success is essential for extracting value from a software subscription service like NetSuite. By retaining an independent managed service provider, clients get a superior solution as only they can cover all needs and mitigate all risks at a competitive cost/value exchange. Etter+Ramli knows how and why value gaps appear, and by working with over 800 users in 36 countries, we have built a deep understanding of what it takes for clients to invert the value gap equation and achieve their firm’s vision using NetSuite. In essence, we know how to help clients realize the hope and optimism instilled in them by sales all these years ago.

Etter+Ramli As Your Extended NetSuite Team

Etter+Ramli is an Independent Managed Success Provider, and being “independent” means we do not take commissions from NetSuite nor have a vested interest in selling a software outcome. We simply bring our knowledge and expertise, along with our focus and passion for success to every client every day. To explore the benefits of retaining Etter+Ramli as your Managed Success Provider, reach out to Todd Kimpton or connect on LinkedIn for a free consultation today.

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