Sofia Sjöström, Head of Digital Finance at Karo Pharma, has led several ERP implementations in her career. Following Karo’s recent move to IFS Applications 10, Sofia shares her experience of transformation using the IFS Success service framework…
In my experience, there are two ways software vendors will engage with customers. Some apply minimal effort, resulting in a proposal that typically summarizes ‘Here’s what you’ll get’. Or they invest time and thought, collaborating to generate a robust business case: “We’ve looked at your business carefully, your strategic goals and areas to improve. This is what we think you need.”
IFS, and its Success service engagement framework, sits firmly in the second category. Some brief context from personal experience will explain.
By late 2019, several acquisitions had resulted in multiple ERP systems across our business, several of which were end-of-life and not supported by the suppliers. Our company is registered for VAT in 20+ countries, yet our legacy systems didn’t support multiple countries and currencies. The business was also being hampered by issues with inventory accounting, resulting in incorrect reporting on cost of goods sold (COGS). Replacing end-of-life systems with a single ERP implementation that would be fit for the company’s global business and growth was a strategic priority.
Fast-forward to 2021, and, despite extremely challenging timescales, we are now on schedule to complete our full implementation with IFS Applications 10, bringing the final phase live by spring 2021. Supporting 25 locations, 22 VAT registrations and 36 legal entities, the solution has already achieved a great reduction in our inventory closing procedure across the monthly work needed for 43 sites. Our modification requirements are minimal, ensuring friction-free updates and upgrades going forwards.
‘What is success for you?’
Engaging with IFS has been a refreshing experience. In our first meeting, we were thrilled to be asked, ‘what is success for you?’. The company has been listening to us carefully, but also guiding us towards best practice. Experienced IFS cross-functional consultants give us an overview beyond our own sector which is extremely valuable.
I admit Karo Pharma is probably not the easiest customer to work with: we’re full-on, operating at high speed, and sometimes must rapidly change our priorities. Despite the pressures, the IFS team has embraced our goals; delivering what we need has remained their consultants’ no. 1 priority. IFS has the commercial experience to open dialogue around different business options, which has prompted valuable debate and more informed decision-making. We’ve always felt that we are one team with our IFS consultants – and not two teams moving in different directions.
What has helped us? Comprehensive preparation has ensured we had a very clear picture of our goals at the outset, both immediate and longer term, which has eliminated any scope creep – a common reason ERP implementations can fail. A clear work breakdown structure helps to ensure customer and partner implementation responsibilities are clearly defined and understood for the rollouts.
I would strongly urge anyone on a similar journey to focus first on what is needed, not what is ‘nice to have’. Don’t aim for total perfection in the first instance – get live quickly with a fit-for-purpose system and iterate any ‘nice to have’ improvements later, over time. Remember, too, that taking the standard IFS solution as much as possible also keeps customizations at a minimum, streamlining updates and maintenance.
Skin in the game
In conclusion, working alongside IFS been an enjoyable, exciting experience – the entire team is committed to working with us to succeed, and we greatly value the support and input that the IFS Success services framework has, and continues to, deliver as we realize business value from our solution.
Learn how you can realize business value with IFS by visiting ifs.com/possibilities.
About the Author
Sofie Sjöström is Head of Digital Finance at Karo Pharma and has been responsible for the implementation of IFS in the global Karo Pharma organization.
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