Dirty Data and Technical Debt: How to Clean Up NetSuite

As you work in NetSuite and evolve your account over time, you’re going to accumulate some baggage. Typically, this baggage will come in two forms: ‘dirty’ data housed in the system, and obsolete metadata (system customizations), aka technical debt. Though these are two separate issues, they’re closely related — getting rid of technical debt will make your NetSuite account easier to use, which will improve the overall quality of the data within it. 

So with spring on the horizon, we’ve put together this blog post walking you through how to clean up NetSuite — both the data it houses and the metadata that determines how the system is configured. 

Dirty Data 

It’s estimated that incomplete, inaccurate or irrelevant data costs US businesses over $3.1 trillion a year in lost sales and productivity. To use an obvious example: if your AR team doesn’t have accurate customer contact info available in NetSuite, it’s that much harder to follow up on overdue invoices. 

So How Does Data Get ‘Dirty?’

In a busy organization, there is no shortage of ways to end up with dirty data. Human error is, of course, a leading cause; but the reasons for this are typically deeper — poor processes, lack of training and insufficient documentation (such as field descriptions and help fields) can be underlying factors. Data can also become corrupted by manual data migration into or out of NetSuite. 

Getting Dirty Data Clean

We suggest cleansing your data on an ongoing basis by completing smaller, standardized actions regularly — in turn, eliminating a need for a larger clean-up project. You can start this by adopting a few best practices: 

  • Establish standardization rules

Standardized data is clean data. Once you’ve standardized inputs like nominal values and customer names — and trained staff to use those standardizations — searching your data and finding outliers will be that much easier going forward. 

  • Manage duplicates

In any cleanup project, we like to start by looking for ‘low hanging fruit’ — obvious redundancies that can be safely eliminated. Duplicate customer records are common in NetSuite; one easy way to start your data cleanup project is to locate duplicates and merge or deprecate them. 

  • Eliminate silos

Integrating NetSuite with other enterprise systems will make it easier to implement across-the-board data standardization, and reduce the risk of error and redundancies caused by manual data imports. You can learn more about the benefits of integration in this guest post by Strongpoint partner Breadwinner. 

Technical Debt and Metadata

As we hinted above, in NetSuite, dirty data is often a symptom of the larger problem of technical debt. Technical debt refers to unused code and customizations that accumulate over time. In NetSuite, it can include saved searches, fields, roles and permissions, workflows and more — customizations that are no longer relevant to your users, but remain in the system because no one has bothered to delete them. So, why does this matter and what does this have to do with dirty data?

Technical debt makes everything more complicated than it needs to be. And when things are overly complicated, users can’t navigate the system in the way they should. So they take shortcuts, get sloppy — and inevitably, the quality of the data going into your system is affected. 

Here are three easy ways to get rid of technical debt in NetSuite:

Automated Saved Search Clean Up

NetSuite makes it very easy to create a new saved search — much easier than finding an old one. It’s not uncommon for mature accounts to have multiple saved searches that appear similar; run the wrong one and your user may not end up with the information they need.  

Identifying and deprecating unused saved searches is an extra step most teams don’t have time for. Fortunately, Strongpoint comes with an out-of-the-box tool for reviewing old saved searches and accurately identifying what to get rid of in a few simple clicks. 

Here's a blog post walking you through how it works. 

User Role and Permissions Clean Up Reports

In a mature NetSuite account, roles and permissions can get extremely complex and hard to manage. But redundant, duplicate access controls aren’t just technical debt — they’re a potential security risk, too. 

Strongpoint gives you the ability to review access controls in NetSuite and identify redundant, unused, or inactive roles and permissions. Out of the box, Strongpoint comes with a suite of pre-built reports such as ‘Role Assignments with No Login in 6 Months’ that help your team easily identify inactive access controls so they can be safely deleted.

Watch a webinar on role and permission cleanup here.

Customization Cleanup

A third and final type of technical debt in NetSuite is unused fields. If you have, for example, a contact form that’s littered with obsolete fields, not only does it make it harder for an end user to figure out how to complete it, it increases the likelihood that they’ll make a mistake in the process, leading to data hygiene issues down the line. 

The problem is that in NetSuite deleting something like a field can have unintended consequences. Strongpoint gives you several ways to identify where a field is referenced — watch a webinar or read our post walking you through one example here.  

Cleaner NetSuite, Cleaner Data

The key takeaway from this post is that taking care of technical debt will lead to a more streamlined NetSuite — which in turn will improve the quality of the data that goes into your account. 

If you’re in need of additional help with your NetSuite clean up project, get in touch with the Strongpoint team today — and if you run Salesforce as well, take a look at this post to learn how to clean up your Org.