NetSuite woos QuickBooks users

NetSuite says it has a replacement for all those companies that have outgrown Intuit's popular accounting software.

Roughly two months after severing its ties with Oracle Corp., NetSuite is making small businesses a new offer.

On Wednesday, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company launched NetSuite Small Business, a hosted software suite that combines functionality such as contact and order management, financials and forecasting into a single system similar to the package it previously had branded as the Oracle Small Business Suite.

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In conjunction with the launch, NetSuite is offering a migration program for customers of Intuit Corp.'s popular accounting software product, QuickBooks. Users will be able to migrate 100 megabytes of data to NetSuite at no charge for the next year. Additionally, NetSuite's Small Business edition incorporates features designed to ease the transition from QuickBooks, said NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson.

Internally, NetSuite is calling the migration plan "Project Vampire" because Nelson said the goal is to "suck the data right out of QuickBooks." Nelson estimates that 20,000 customers a year are growing out of QuickBooks' functionality.

Wendy Close, research director with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., likes the marketing strategy. Many small businesses are ready to invest in CRM and ERP. Recent research has shown that the CRM software market in companies with less than 100 employees is expected to grow by 15.4% between 2003 and 2008, and many of those companies will choose hosted applications, Close said.

"There's a big chunk of the market NetSuite can capture over the next five years," Close said. "There's a lot of opportunity there where QuickBooks and ACT don't have a solution."

Salesforce.com currently offers out-of-the-box integration for QuickBooks. Best Software Inc., makers of ACT, will soon have a tool available as well, Close said.

NetSuite has an advantage in that it offers hosted accounting software, as well as e-commerce and CRM functionality, Close said.

NetSuite hopes that its replacement of the Oracle Small Business Suite will work for others like it did for Novak Conversions Inc. in Logan, Utah, a maker of Jeep four-wheel drive specialty parts.

Novak was using QuickBooks for a couple of months before deciding to replace it with NetSuite Small Business Suite. The company has since moved up to NetSuite's advanced accounting module.

Novak's vice president, Eric Forsberg, said the company moved to NetSuite to have a single source for disparate systems, Web availability and e-commerce operations that tie back into the accounting system.

NetSuite Small Business is now available and starts at $99 per month for the first user and $49 per month for each additional user. NetSuite also said that customers can roll out features, such as an offline CRM client or advanced inventory management, in a modular fashion.

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