Career Spotlight: In-depth Look At The Functional Implementation Consultant Career Path

15 February 2024 | Tariro Mutonhori | Talent Acquisition Specialist
Career Spotlight: In-depth Look At The Functional Implementation Consultant Career Path

NetSuite is a cloud-based business management software that helps organisations manage their financials, operations, and customer relationships. It offers features such as accounting, CRM, inventory management, e-commerce, and more, all in one platform. Most businesses have pivoted to cloud-based solutions because of the flexibility, scalability, and continuous innovation the solutions bring to businesses. As a result of this, several opportunities exist for professionals with different backgrounds in the ERP industry and allow for plenty of ongoing learning and development opportunities. 

In this article, we will be focusing on one of these career paths at BlueBridge One – the NetSuite Functional Consultant profession. With the help of our valuable Functional Consultant, Andile Xaba, we will be touching on some of the key components of this role and answering many of the frequently asked questions. 


The Background of a Functional Implementation Consultant:

Andile, a holder of a bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems majoring in Business Analysis, joined us as an Associate Functional Consultant and impressively progressed to Functional Implementation Consultant within a year of being employed at BlueBridge One. He attributes his interest in ERP to the exposure he got while studying some of the modules as he was pursuing his undergraduate degree.

An avid learner, Andile has risen through the ranks through both determination and a desire to learn more about not just the industry but also about how best he can be a valuable asset to both BlueBridge One and our clients. Here is a snippet of how my conversation with him went. 


Qn: Andile, in layman’s terms, please may you describe what a Functional NetSuite Implementation Consultant does and what qualifications one needs to have to become one. 

Andile: The way I see it, stripping the NetSuite part, a Functional NetSuite Consultant is more or less a Business Analyst. I get to spend most of my time gathering requirements from clients, and requirement specifications. I am also responsible for doing solutions designing and configuring the solutions. Additionally, the role involves a lot of solution testing and eventually offering support and problem-solving assistance to the clients. 

As a Functional Consultant at BlueBridge One, I am involved in the end-to-end lifecycle of the project and engage with various stakeholders from different industries. The role comes with its unique complexities and challenges, but that is what makes the job fun for me.

Each client you work with is unique so it is important to get into each project with a fresh mindset that is separate from the one you had with previous projects- this allows you an opportunity to understand a client’s problem and recommend solutions with a fresh mind. It’s also always helpful to take with you any good lessons learnt from previous projects to help improve the experience for our clients. 


Qn: How did you get here? What made you decide to pursue a career in this field, particularly Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

Andile: I have a degree in Business Information Systems and the main focus was on Business Analysis so I always knew that I would be a Business Analyst. I got exposure to ERP systems through modules that I studied during my undergraduate programme. The modules, however, highlighted “on-premise” ERP solutions, not necessarily ones that are on the cloud. As a result of my academic background and exposure to those specific ERPs, I then embarked on my first career role specialising in Oracle EBS and then eventually JD Edwards. It was then that I established that I would always become an ERP Implementation Consultant but not necessarily a NetSuite one. 

My interest in NetSuite came later on when I wanted to move to cloud solutions. 


QN: That’s interesting to learn. How then did you pivot from on-premise to cloud solutions- particularly NetSuite ERP?

Andile: I had to research what was going on in the cloud solutions market and what do you know, I found an article about Oracle NetSuite and the next step was to find out how I would transition. I eventually joined BlueBridge One as an Associate Functional Consultant. Starting as an Associate helps because you are not left to your own devices but rather gain exposure to projects while gaining valuable knowledge from the senior consultants. It gives you enough time to learn the product and the way things are done in the business. 

When I started, I had enough learning time for a couple of months which helped me figure out projects and get my head around it. While I was allocated a few tasks in the beginning, I had mentors to help me with them as well as different project requirements. Over time, the task allocation increased and I eventually got exposed to the different facets of the projects.


QN: Nice! Would you mind sharing a few tips on how you managed to develop yourself to the role of Functional Implementation Consultant from an Associate?

Andile: Well, I would pin that down to my desire to always keep learning and improving. With me, you don’t have to tell me that I only need to learn “A, B and C”, I am curious enough to go the extra mile and read up to the end of the alphabet. 

In addition to my curious mindset, everything else that was also provided i.e. Training, resources provided –  learning portals such as Suite Answers and the My Learn portal helped. The exposure to this training material helped me to engage with other knowledgeable professionals as a way of tapping into their minds and gaining even more knowledge. 

That way, I already had foundational knowledge of most of the job functions and that made it easier for me to get some new tasks allocated to me. All I needed to do was catch up with the flow of work but I had already mastered the fundamentals of what needed to be done. 


QN: How do you approach client interactions and ensure effective communication throughout the implementation process?

Andile: In my view, communication goes beyond just having a conversation. It is more about active listening to what is being said and what is not being said. A lot of valuable information can be lost through the noise and it is possible to miss out on the key information that could help figure out the true problem and not necessarily the symptom.

Furthermore, maintaining a cadence of regular client meetings is instrumental in steering the project in the right direction. These ongoing discussions provide a platform for real-time feedback, fostering a collaborative environment and ensuring that the project aligns seamlessly with the client’s evolving needs and expectations.

Most importantly, doing thorough research on a company before the initial engagement is a foundational step that not only helps establish a rapport but also communicates a genuine interest in the client’s business. This proactive approach ensures a more meaningful and informed interaction. At BlueBridge One, we believe that our interactions with our clients are not just transactional, this is a business relationship.


QN: What certifications or training resources have you found to be useful as far as staying up to date with NetSuite ERP knowledge that you would recommend to someone looking to pursue a similar career?

Andile: There is a lot of information available on the internet but I have found the Mylearn portal from NetSuite and SuiteAnswers helpful. NetSuite Certifications, Foundation, and ERP are very important certifications that one should consider pursuing as well. I’m currently working on my ERP certificate. To stay informed about what is happening in the industry, I would recommend webinars, IT news, NetSuite articles & networking.


QN: What strategies do you use to troubleshoot and resolve issues during the implementation process, and how can candidates prepare to handle such challenges?

Andile: As mentioned earlier, it’s important as a consultant to find out what the actual problem is and not focus on the symptom. SuiteAnswers is a very resourceful guide. It’s like Google – but for NetSuite. Additionally, I would also recommend leaning into the knowledge that is shared amongst team members during round table discussions and regular team meetings. It is also an added advantage that we have approachable managers that we can leverage their wealth of knowledge accumulated over the years.


QN: In your own words, please share insights into BlueBridge One’s company culture and how you feel it contributes to the success of its Implementation Consultants.

Andile: I feel that this is achieved through knowledge sharing and leveraging each other’s strengths. Additionally, there is room for career growth- the company has put in place robust support structures to help one achieve their goals by means of mentors, buddies, and resources including an intranet service and project work that’s aligned with your ambitions.


QN: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Netsuite implementation or looking to join BlueBridge One as an Implementation Consultant?

Andile: Leverage your previous experiences, be it industry experience, or other on-premise ERP or cloud solutions. I’m living proof that it works.


Andile has showcased impeccable workmanship and continues to grow at Bluebridge One as a consultant. The sky’s the limit for anyone curious enough to want to grow at BlueBridge One.