Best Practice when implementing IFS

IFS Applications has become an important player in the market for ERP implementations for mid-sized industrial companies. Central Europe is a hot spot with many implementations. 2BCS has supported many of these during negotiations and implementation. Successful customers of IFS focus on the three Best Practices described in this article.

Introduction

Implementing and using applications is a necessity in today’s business world. The apps enable business processes, create efficiency, reliability, and transparency. Today’s focus is on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and specifically IFS Applications. IFS Applications 10 is one of leaders in the mid-sized industrial ERP market and is often compared to S/4 Hana from SAP, Microsoft Dynamics 365 SCM and LN from Infor. 2BCS AG does many evaluations for mid-sized industrial companies and knows the advantages and disadvantages of the ERP solutions.

Selecting IFS Applications and negotiating a commercial and legally sound contract is the first step where we have expertise and benchmarks. In this blog I will focus on three Best Practices for the next step, the implementation.

Contents

Implementing IFS Applications is not much different then implementing any other global business application. The general challenges come from within and from outside the own organization. Business processes (legacy and target), existing and historical data, employees that should learn new concepts and tools, new technology and external consultants and the existing business that should continue. In an IFS context there some additional challenges such as the two changes in the IFS business model (build-up of eco-system and centralization of decisions) that impact projects, many new functional IFS consultants, few solution and business architects and technology people on a steep learning curve concerning provisioning via cloud.

Best Practice

The following three Best Practices should be adhered to when carrying out an IFS project:
  • Scoping List
    Having a common understanding of the project scope is vital for project success. A Scoping List (also known as a Business Process Master List BPML)) is a list of transactions that will be implemented in the project. This list is often in Excel, is structured according to the processes and can encompass more than 1000 transactions (also known as scenarios). This list, and some non-transactional topics such as BI, should be present before contract signing. This Scoping List will be adjusted during the project. The Scoping List is the foundation for creating the concepts and a protype, the foundation for testing, for roles and permissions, for training and for the management of the developments. Experience has proven that the Scoping List must be actively managed and used as a tool during the IFS implementation.

    Best Practice 1: The Scoping List is the most important tool during the implementation. It must be understood and actively managed from negotiations until the Go-Live.
  • Project Leadership
    IFS Projects have a proven higher fluctuation compared to other implementations. There are many reasons, one surely being the change of the IFS business model from an “implementing software producer” to a “Producer with an eco-system of implementers”. Changes happen everywhere – the question is how to prepare and react accordingly as a customer of IFS. Each IFS project has two project managers, one from IFS and one from the customer. My experience is that successful ERP projects are always led by strong customer project managers (PM). The customer PM must take over responsibility for the project schedule, the deliverables, the resources, and the quality. He or she is probably responsible for the budget anyway. Having Project Leadership makes the customer less dependent on consultant fluctuation and ensures quality and buy-in. Do not follow like a lemming – take over leadership.

    Best Practice 2: Lead your IFS project from a strategic and an operational perspective. Make sure that your project manager is a leader.
  • Basic Data and Data Migration
    All ERP implementations have a data migration component. Experienced and trained IT professionals can migrate data into IFS with ease. Customer data in IFS is differentiated into Basic Data, Master Data and Transactional Data. The mentioned order depicts the sequence and importance of the data. The Master Data refers to Basic Data and so on. The topics around data migration are often postponed until too late in the project. Our experience says firstly that we need a responsible person to manage the data migration process and secondly that the efforts for defining and implementing data (especially Basic Data) should start in the concept phase. IFS offers valuable tools such as the “Basic Data Tracker”.

    Best Practice 3: Do not wait with defining and entering data. Start early, create a concept, and define a person who will lead and coordinate the data migration activities.

Who is 2BCS?

2BCS AG is a Swiss leader in business and IT transformation. We support our client’s digital initiatives by providing thought leadership, independent expertise and hands-on implementation support based on dozens of years of experience. Our clients are national and international industrial and trading companies who demand and expect best practice professional support. 2BCS AG is a spin-off of HSG and is based in St. Gallen and Zurich.

About Author

Dr. Martin Brogli
Dr. Martin Brogli founded 2BCS AG. He has been supporting national and international clients as a process and IT consultant since 1995. After studying information management he did his PhD on the digitalization and management of processes at the University of St. Gallen (HSG). Martin is a well-known expert in application strategies, process optimization, evaluations and setting up and running PMOs.