IFS Cloud was launched in March 2021. Fast forward more than 18 months, and you might be considering: is now the right time to move to Cloud or should I wait?
But it’s not an easy decision to make. Upgrading to IFS’s cloud-enabled ERP product is a significant change for your business, whether you choose a re-implementation or a technical uplift. It needs investment in people, time and money, whatever the size of the project.
To help you weigh up your options, we talked to our Programme Delivery Director, Jon Allen, who has extensive experience leading IFS implementations in international businesses across multiple industries. And Jon led our Change8 team who delivered the UK’s first IFS Cloud implementation.
Is now the right time to upgrade to IFS Cloud?
The answer is most likely yes if your business is on Apps 7.5, 8 or 9, and no if you’re on Apps 10. The cost of support increases for older versions and there's a bigger risk to security. Plus, you may miss out on business opportunities and benefits.
The IFS Cloud platform is more stable now and the requirement to move to Apps 10 first is largely redundant. And if your business is already on Apps 10, you may feel ready to reassess in six to 12 months.
But 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 you can think about.
IFS Cloud is a stable, scalable platform
IFS Cloud was launched in March 2021. It was heralded by IFS as a single technology platform with one common user experience, one data model and one consistent support offering.
The global software provider developed the product to enable companies to better co-ordinate their customers, people and assets. Cloud works across service management, enterprise resource planning and enterprise asset management.
When Change8 delivered IFS Cloud for a leading UK manufacturing business, there were several challenges around the implementation.
“Most of the bugs were found during the deployment process,” says Jon. “We began working on the project in autumn 2021 and the client went live in June 2022.
“There are still some functionality issues with Cloud but that’s the same with any software product that is quite new. It’s more stable now.
“Cloud is a new interface with very different ways of navigating around the system. So, it’s a project that will need time, money and effort, and will take people away from business as usual.”
What are the benefits of moving to Cloud now?
There’s a lot of talk about the ‘evergreen’ nature of Cloud, which means IFS is continually improving the product.
Jon says: “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.
“The new functionality in Cloud reduces the need for modifications, which is good news for companies that want a vanilla approach,” says Jon. “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 upgrade 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,” says 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.”
Technical uplift or re-implementation: which is right for you?
A technical uplift typically 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.
Jon says: “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.”
What does it take to make the project work?
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 will communicate the benefits and address people’s interests and concerns.
Understand your data strategy and have a plan for data-cleansing and migration.
What else do you need to consider?
The key factors driving your decision will be the strategic goals of your business and how well these can be supported by your current IFS.
There are opportunities, risks and costs to think about whether you wait to upgrade to IFS Cloud or move now.