What is our primary use case?
The solution is an ERP. I work for multiple clients, and all of those clients are in different sectors. I do see most businesses take it on and use it as a full business management suite of software. It covers every aspect from human resources through to any operational purchasing, buying, contract, and project management and full finance and reporting suites.
For the most part, in all of my experiences with IFS, when a company embarks on using an ERP of this significance, it tends to be the main tool the business then aligns itself with and uses to run.
What is most valuable?
The software itself is extremely strong and IFS is one of the best I've worked with in terms of listening to a user base and modifying and adapting the software under different releases to improve. There tends not to be a massive weakness in the product itself, as weaknesses historically could be quickly resolved in the next patch or the next release.
It's also highly customizable by the clients themselves. If you use software and you find a weakness, you have the ability with the right technical skills to be able to modify that software in a bespoke way to fit your own company needs, so it tends to not really have any weaknesses on that side.
From a user perspective, the fact that it has fully open APIs and it is very customizable is, or at least was, quite unique to IFS from an ERP software industry which is usually more locked down. Historically you bought the software, and if you wanted to make a change to that software, you maybe needed another field or another page or a function, you would request that to be developed by the software developer itself. You would pay them for it, they would release it, and it would take many, many months. Then, you may also pay them to maintain that since it's outside of the core build. With IFS, going back to around Application 9, if I don't like what a field's called, I can change its name or I can add new fields, new pages, and new functions myself, within reason.
Most businesses will have elements that are unique to them. ERP generally in the past was one size should fit all. For some companies, especially companies that really believe in their own uniqueness, that can sometimes be a problem. IFS addresses that wonderfully by saying, "Well actually, if you don't like that column being there, you have the ability to just right mouse and remove it. And if you want to add a new one, you can do this."
That's a massive feature for usability. In terms of the most recent cloud-based software IFS has again been quite forward-thinking in modernizing the way that ERP works. They moved more towards almost like a phone model, in that every few months, it'll have new software updates and deployments with optional new features.
What IFS has done with IFS Cloud is shake up the industry again a little bit by saying, "Well, we're not going to build any more versions of it. Instead, you buy IFS cloud, that's your core platform, and we will release bi-annual updates that you can opt into."
I'm a big fan of the fact that they lead. It's nice to see software with a modern mentality coming out to actually say, "We think we should do things differently."
What needs improvement?
IFS is a very large and complex software, and implementation of IFS can be challenging and may lead to a difficult lengthy project. It can take between 12 and 24 months in some cases to deploy. I have found that not all clients are fully aware of how big the task is that they're undertaking when they make a decision to move to software like this.
Companies need to be more aware of the complexity of an ERP implementation project and while I fully recommend moving to IFS, it is not easy and does require business change when adopting an ERP solution.
New features are a difficult ask - I work across multiple industries and everyone would probably choose a different feature. Maybe BIM in Construction or Customs link-ups for importers/exporters.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using the solution for approximately 25 years.
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What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I'd rate stability a nine out of ten.
IFS itself is extremely strong and stable. But like most modern software of any size, it can depend on your own internal strengths and networks. Something else that can and should be analyzed at the start of a project.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The solution is highly scalable. I'd rate it a ten out of ten in terms of the ability to expand.
I'm working with three different companies that are using the solution. The user base would be around 1,400 on average performing more than 100 transactions per user per day but this is a tiny fraction of the system's capabilities.
How are customer service and support?
I have contacted technical support in the past.
The solutions to the problems, when they come, are, as you would expect, 100% accurate and correct. However, there can be a time delay in terms of you logging a case rather than talking to them directly.
You give the case priority. They will then review it and may reprioritize it. Therefore, I may have to wait a lot longer for a fix than I would like to but there is strong documentation, online help, and a good user community so a large number of issues can be resolved internally without the need for support contact. If it were a critical issue, IFS would respond instantly too so there is comfort in knowing that.
How would you rate customer service and support?
How was the initial setup?
Deploying the system, installing the servers, and getting everything set up like that - as long as you've got technical resources around you, you can do that stuff pretty easily.
It's a difficult thing to score really - I'll give it an eight out of ten as, if you have the right resources, deployment is simple but deploying and stabilizing the software is just a small step in actually being able to run a business on it.
The reality of an ERP implementation is that you're coming in to essentially take over a whole business, and the most complicated part of that is aligning software with business processes. People that have never used the software before have processes that are not necessarily aligned out of the box. There are potentially changes in terminology and changes to processes so synchronizing between the software and the company that's now chosen to use it, can be difficult.
The deployment time will obviously depend on the business. Usually, things like the size of the user base come into play. Mostly the biggest factor is the appetite for it outside of the boardroom. On average, deployment to being fully live is probably 12 to 14 months but it will be different for every company.
What was our ROI?
There is an ROI. However, it's a long-term investment. You're unlikely to see a large return on investment within probably the first two years as your business aligns with the software.
There will be other quick wins though, some financial, but larger ROI will come further down the line.
There can be a significant outlay at the beginning, not just in the software itself and the user licenses but also in terms of things like the potential consultancy to help you run a project and get it in. After two to three years you'll begin to note an ROI though.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Pricing is relatively negotiable with companies like IFS. There is a fixed idea of what a license price would be however, if you have a significant amount of users, you might be able to negotiate it down. I would approximate the general cost to be somewhere around 1,000 to 1,200 pounds per user annually.
I'd rate the solution a seven out of ten in terms of affordability. I think the price is fair and reasonable based on what you get.
There can also be additional fees too - there may be charges for maintenance, security, and support. None of these charges are hidden though and would all be very clear at the point of making a decision as to whether to use IFS or not.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
When choosing software like this, you always evaluate other similar software before committing. As an example, I have one client that ran a full tender process across five or six different ERP providers, IFS being one of them. That included SAP and a few other big names in the industry, including Microsoft, JD Edwards, Infor, and NetSuite.
They chose IFS due to scalability, user experience, and how it aligned with their business. While the other software were perfectly strong at what they did individually, IFS outscored them all in all areas of that tender.
The reason for changing to new software was that age-old problem of having multiple systems not really talking to each other and needing that one view of everything, that one version of the truth.
Another client I have worked with basically ran their business on Microsoft Excel, other than finance software and they just wanted to modernize. They were working in an industry where a few other companies in the industry were also using IFS, and their natural networks made IFS a topic of conversation and eventually, a choice.
What other advice do I have?
I'm fully independent of IFS.
While I've been a user of IFS for 25 years, for the last four or five years, I've worked in a consultancy role, not for them, but independently helping companies use it. I tend to use multiple versions of the software, often at the same time. At the moment, I use version Application 9, and Application 10, and I also use IFS Cloud, the most recent version.
I'd rate the solution eight out of ten.
I believe in its strengths. However, I'm also aware that there's always room for improvement with everything in life. Generally, IFS is very, very strong, multi-industry and it will genuinely do what a good ERP is meant to do. IFS also offer a good service in terms of support and there is a strong network of partners and independent companies of IFS experts available for advice and support.
The main advice would be to ensure you are fully aware of what you are embarking on with any ERP project, including IFS.
Realistically, if a client is confident and set on implementing IFS, it's important they understand it's not a three-month project. It's could be up to two years, depending on the company. That means cost, challenges but nothing good comes easy.
The software itself I'm very, very confident in. It's robust. It's very secure, it's very customizable, and it's very user-friendly.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.