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Is it possible to redesign your Chart of Accounts after go live?

Posted by Sara Duong, Consultant on Feb 2, 2022 4:44:13 PM
Sara Duong, Consultant
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In a previous blog we explored Netsuite Purchase Request vs. Purchase Requisition.  In this blog we’ll explore the complexity of chart of accounts redesign. We provide some tips and learnings from a previous chart of accounts redesign project.  

Chart of accounts (“COA”) is the backbone of NetSuite and any financial reporting.  Best practice is to create a COA at the beginning of an implementation that can grow with you. 

There’s a great blog by my fellow consultant on how to create a robust COA titled “Steps to Create the Chart of Accounts in NetSuite”.

If you find that your COA has been mismanaged over the years, or not what you want, then redesigning and reimplementing is a possibility.  A common sign of needing to rework the chart of accounts is when users use the COA as a means to segment, instead of using NetSuite’s native segmentation functionality. 

See Short N Suite video title “Intro to Custom Segments” for more information:


A COA redesign/reimplementation is not easy and can be very time consuming; a recent redesign project took over 250 hours.  You will also sacrifice some history as well as period over period comparison, but there are some best practices and workarounds to help with this.  Regardless, if clean and clear financial reporting is what you need then a total reimplementation is possible!   

Here’s what I’ve learned in a recent redesign project: 

    1. Planning and testing are critical.  Prior to flipping from old COA to new COA, we spent a good month mimicking the flip in sandbox and staging what we can in production. We learned critical lessons during this time. Below are just a few examples.  
          a. Timing for the flip is critical. What seemed to work best is after the close of a fiscal      year end.  
          b. There may be certain limitations such as not being able to inactivate system accounts, but rather having to renumber them.  
          c. Having a master mapping guide was critical for validation. 
          d. Idea of time commitment. Though it was not a full reimplementation, it gave us an idea of how much time will be needed for each step. Also, an idea of how many people will be needed.  For this particular project, there were 3 consultants involved.  
          e. Staging new items and new chart of accounts prior to flip helped shorten the time operations had to be down during the blackout period (see below for explanation of black out period) 
          f. All departments need to be involved.  Initially, only finance and accounting were involved with planning.  We quickly found out how much impact this change will have on purchasing and operations because items were impacted by COA changes.  
          g. 2nd Sandbox. This was a life saver having a 2nd sandbox or a sandbox to refer to.  Part of the plan was to refresh the sandbox prior to the flip so that if there was a problem we could pull from sandbox.  In addition, we referred to sandbox for validation purposes as well. 
    2. Black out period is a must. This is a window of a few days where no GL impacting transactions are allowed in NetSuite, meaning production is halted. During this time, we can flip the COA, create new items, and replace old items in open transactions with the new.  
    3. Critical decision: how to handle items.  If any income or asset account is changed, it will impact item set up.  There are 2 core options to handle this: 
          a. Use existing items and change the GL accounts.  This change will impact historical transactions and will require you to open historical periods.  This would be recommended if the user does not have a lot of closed periods in NetSuite yet. 
          b. Create new items and inactivate old ones. You will lose historical transaction if you are using demand planning.  The other impact is you will need to replace the old item with new on any open transaction.  Ideally, it is best to reduce the number of open transactions prior to the flip.   
    4. Open mind and flexibility for the first few weeks.  
          a. Even with all the testing and staging, there are still surprises during the blackout period and post flip.  Example: this particular client had a Bill.com integration and received some sync errors post flip.  This was worked through and resolved.  
          b. During black out and few weeks post go live, we had daily check ins and a running list of issues where we identified problems quickly and made swift decisions to resolve them. 

COA reimplementation's are rare.  If you are unsure if a COA reimplementation is needed or not, please reach out to us and we can help assess and make a recommendation.  

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Concentrus is a complete NetSuite solutions provider that guides organizations through how to use NetSuite to reach highly focused business goals and objectives. We provide NetSuite implementation, developer, integration, and customization services to ensure that you have a long-term solution that is tailored to fit your systems, people, and processes.


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Tags: NetSuite, Accounting, Segmentation, Financial, COA, General Ledger, Chart of Accounts, GL

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