Holly has worked in the IFS industry for more than 15 years, including roles in consultancy services, sales and management, and as a managing director.
If you’re about to start an IFS ERP project and are wondering what it takes to implement or upgrade your software successfully, the first step is to get a strong project team.
Get the right expertise in, at the right time, and you’ll have a solid foundation to take you from the early stages of project planning to go-live.
Our Founder and Managing Director, Holly Rascagneres, guides you through what you need to consider and the pitfalls to avoid when building your best team for an IFS project that delivers the results you want.
Why it matters to get the right IFS ERP project team
An IFS implementation or upgrade is no easy process. Without the right planning – and expertise – you risk the project not delivering the benefits you need, going off course, or worse, failing.
Most businesses don’t have the luxury of having IFS skills in-house ready to tap into. And even if you have superusers, your implementation or upgrade needs a team of specialists skilled at IFS delivery.
Your staff must be involved in the project because they’ll be the ones using the product. They need to have a say in the process and understand the new ways of working.
But you’ll also need to go outside your organisation to build a strong project team that includes independent IFS consultants with the right skills and experience.
Each team member will need a clearly defined role and responsibilities. But that alone is no guarantee of success. The key is for everyone to work together and support each other towards the end goal: an ERP project that will benefit your business, your team, and your customers.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ for an IFS project team
The structure and size of your project team will depend on several things, like:
- The size of your business: A multinational organisation with thousands of users is likely to need a bigger project team than a small operation with fewer than 50 users.
- Your internal capabilities: Do any of your staff already have IFS applications experience? And if so, would they be available to work on the project? Can you take them away from their usual roles to work on the implementation or upgrade?
- The IFS modules you need: Different functional consultants have expertise in specific modules. You may need more than one functional consultant depending on how many modules you’re adopting.
- Your budget: Do you have the resources to ensure the project is completed successfully?
- The complexity of your operations: An organisation with complicated processes and multiple locations is likely to need a larger team with more extensive expertise.
What should your IFS project team look like?
To give you an idea, here’s an example of a team structure for a typical medium-sized IFS project (it includes a mix of independent contractors and internal roles):
- IFS Project Manager: Sits between the software vendor and the business. They manage the budget and the programme and build a project team with the right IFS expertise. The project manager is usually the first specialist you bring in. You need them for the initial planning, including deciding on the go-live date and route to launch.
- IFS Solution Architect: Starts alongside the project manager and is their right-hand person. They advise the project manager on how to configure the software for your business. (Whether you need a solution architect or not will depend on various factors like the size of your organisation.)
- IFS Functional Consultant: The type of functional consultants you’ll need depends on the IFS modules you’re adopting. For example, you’ll need a finance consultant for the finance module, a manufacturing consultant for the manufacturing module, etc.
- IFS Technical Consultant: You’ll always need a technical consultant for an IFS project. They’re skilled in the installation, configuration and customisation of the application, and they understand related tools like Crystal Reports.
- IFS Reporting Consultant: Reporting plays a big part in any implementation, especially because one of the reasons you chose IFS was probably to get robust business reporting. You can either get a ‘hybrid’ contractor who deals with IFS reporting as part of their technical consulting or bring in a reporting specialist.
- Key Business Users: They come from within your business and their brief is to represent the needs of your different internal teams on the implementation.
- Superusers: They also come from your business and will help their departments adopt the product after go-live.
Other roles you might need to include in your project team:
- IFS Business Analyst: Bridges the gap between your business and IT. They look at your company’s processes and identify what needs improving.
- IFS Data Migration Consultant: Plans, implements and manages the movement of data between your IT systems, software or applications.
- IFS Developer: Designs, develops and improves your IFS application. They also work with the project team to carry out testing.
But, before you ask, ‘unicorns’ don’t exist
You can get IFS consultants who are skilled in more than one area, like technical contractors who also deal with reporting. But there’s no such thing as a ‘unicorn’ contractor who can deal with an entire IFS project on their own.
The reason these unicorns don’t exist is because IFS is so complex and broad. From a modular perspective, they can only really have expertise in one or maybe two modules. (However, some may have expertise in a couple more modules, but that’s usually because they’ve worked in-house at IFS, and even then, they’re unlikely to have expertise across all areas.)
And while your project manager will understand the hierarchy and the modules, they won’t be able to implement them. They don’t have the depth of knowledge that the functional and technical experts have.
(But if you do find a unicorn consultant, please let us know!)
Why you need to get your IFS project team right – and not cut corners
Your IFS project needs the right budget and team to give it the best chance of being completed with all your requirements.
Upgrades and implementations have a higher chance of project drag or failure when a business cuts corners. For example, trying to do things internally instead of bringing the right skills in.
And instead of saving money, these mistakes can cost the company more in the long run if the project goes wrong or parts of the process need to be repeated or fixed.
There’s a big difference between an IFS end user and an IFS consultant
Just because an IFS end user understands the application, it doesn’t mean they have the same level of expertise as an IFS consultant. The two are massively different.
A good IFS contractor will come into your business and work under pressure to complete the project. They can manage both upwards as well as downwards and will have lots of experience of the application. They get put on the rack all the time.
Plan ahead to avoid skills gaps and delays
You’ll need different types of expertise at different stages in the project lifecycle. And while it may be tempting to delay bringing those consultants in (maybe because of costs), you could miss out on securing the best people.
Functional consultants often have limited availability because they’re in high demand. They don’t tend to wait around, so it’s a good idea to snap them up when they’re available.
Otherwise, you could have a problem if there’s a particular module that’s a key part of your project but you don’t have the right person to work on it. And that consultant might be busy on other contracts for a few months, which means a long delay for your project.
It’s important to book IFS contractors at the right time, or you may find yourself trying to fill those skills gaps with the wrong people.
A good agency will work proactively with your business to find out where you are in the project lifecycle and where your skills gaps might be. It’s not just about putting a body on a seat. It’s about helping to make sure you don’t miss out on the best resources in the market.
What else makes a strong ERP implementation team?
IFS consultants can’t do their work without input from your business. It’s a partnership between the contractors and your company.
So, you need a strong internal team to work alongside the consultants on the project, to get that knowledge transfer and successful delivery.
If you don’t have people from within your own team involved, you can’t expect them to understand the product. You don’t want a massive void when the contractors leave.
Outsourcing doesn’t just mean bringing people in to deliver your application. It’s also a chance for your team to tap into the knowledge these specialists have built up through their work on ERP projects.
It’s part of a functional consultant’s brief to run training workshops to show your team how to use the system and get the most out of it. There’s always an element of knowledge transfer back into your business when you use an external specialist.
Help with building your team
For a chat about building your strongest IFS ERP project team, meet with our Business Development Manager, Oscar Spence, below.