IFS Cloud: is it worth doing now?

Jon Allen, Change8’s IT programme delivery director led the first IFS Cloud implementation in the UK.  Jon has extensive experience implementing IFS in multi-site and multi-national organisations.

The move to IFS Cloud is a big business change. Whether it’s a technical uplift or a re-implementation programme, going onto IFS Cloud requires investment in people as well as the financial cost of delivery.   

The key factors driving the decision will be your business’ strategic goals and how well these can be supported by your current IFS. There are opportunities, risks and costs to consider whether you decide to begin the move now, wait, or continue your current implementation in parallel with going to Cloud. A good digital partner will always recommend a review to establish the business case and value proposition of software implementation.  

IFS Cloud: is it worth doing now?

The answer is most likely yes and here’s why. The older the version you’re on the greater the cost of maintaining support, and bigger the risks in security and lost business opportunities and benefits. The IFS Cloud platform is stable and the requirement to move to Apps 10 first is largely redundant. If you’re currently implementing Apps 10 and thinking about Cloud you may be able to do both in parallel. We made this easier with a checklist of questions to ask of your business.

Ultimately the answer to the question depends on your business, there’s no substitute for careful review and informed decisions. However, there are some general considerations and critical success factors. 

IFS Cloud is a stable, scalable platform 

IFS Cloud was launched in March 2021. The cloud-enabled ERP product was heralded by IFS as a single technology platform with one common user experience, one data model and one consistent support offering.  

The product was developed to enable companies to better co-ordinate their customers, people and assets. It works across service management, enterprise resource planning and enterprise asset management. 

Jon said: “There were quite a few challenges around the implementation of IFS Cloud for our client and most of the bugs that we found were in the deployment process.  

Now Cloud is a stable platform and IFS continues to improve and increase the functionality. It is a new interface with very different ways of navigating around the system. The upgrade is a big project that will take time, money and resource, but that’s true for any software implementation. My instinct is that if you can, then go to Cloud. But do your review first.” 

What are the benefits of moving to Cloud now?

There is a lot of talk about the ‘evergreen’ nature of Cloud and what this means is IFS is continually improving the product. 

Jon said: “There won’t be a need for further big implementations after you move to Cloud, just regular functional improvements and bug fixes. And because you’ll be taking on those updates regularly, you can take advantage of the benefits ahead of other businesses that upgrade later.” 

Cloud brings together all IFS’s capabilities and functionality on a single API-based platform. You can deploy it from IFS’s cloud or operate pre-packaged IFS Cloud software remotely from your own platform, whether cloud or on-premises.  

Jon said: “The new functionality in Cloud reduces the need for modifications, which is good news for companies that want a vanilla approach. With the out-of-the-box functionality, you’re taking best practice. But you can choose the other functionality you might want to add.  

If you’re coming from an older version of IFS, you may have a modification that is now standard in later versions. So, by having fewer modifications, you can reduce your maintenance costs.” 

What happens if you don’t move now?

There are three levels of IFS support: standard, extended and restricted. For each older version of IFS, the support only lasts for a certain time. For example, standard support ran out for Apps 7.5 in July 2014 and the version is now in restricted support. There are certain things that aren’t covered by restricted support, such as fixes for new security vulnerabilities, although these can potentially be resolved for an extra charge. 

“When you get into extended support, there’s a big increase in the cost of that support,” said Jon. “But if you go out of support, you’re at risk of security issues. You could be more susceptible to hacks, which is a major concern.  

Also, you’ll be using a system that is less configurable, which could limit the system’s effectiveness. So, if you have an older version, it may take considerably more effort to arrange the system the way you want it.” 

The key considerations: technical uplift vs re-implementation

The technical uplift takes between six and nine months. But that depends on things like the complexity of the system and what data needs to be tested. You’ll want to understand if you’re looking at a strict technical upgrade, or whether there’s a need to reduce customisation and modifications.  

A re-implementation takes much longer, around nine to 18 months. There are more activities, such as migration of data, and you may need to export and rebuild some of your reporting and permissions.” 

Critical Success Factors

  • Start with a review to establish the business case, business change management and process engineering. If you’re in the middle of a stalled implementation a review will give you a clear picture of where the challenges are and recommendations for corrective actions. 
  • Get your best people involved and get them ready. Back-fill the high performers so they’re not delayed by BAU. 
  • Manage the change with a strong steering committee who’ll communicate the benefits and address people’s interests and concerns.
  • Understand your data strategy and have a plan for data-cleansing and migration.

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