Ensuring an enterprise is running the latest version of software can mean the difference between market leadership and playing catch-up. A new guide from IFS, titled ‘how to achieve value from an enterprise-wide technology change’, primes management consultants and transformation managers driving high value, low risk business transformations with C-suite stakeholders. In this topic preview, Martin Brunback, GCS Global Portfolio Director for IFS, looks at why evergreen software matters and unpacks the implications of different approaches to tailoring enterprise applications.
This may at first sound like a technical detail, but every board should care about what version of software their company can – or cannot run. They should care a LOT. Why? Because when software is up to date, the organization has full access to the latest innovation functionality and best practices and can ensure optimal performance, quality and security.
Yet the ability to maintain this so called ‘evergreen’ state can be compromised when a business needs to improve or modify the standard functionality to meet specific business needs. Fortunately, in the case of IFS Cloud, Tailoring allows many enhancements to be made without impacting the ability to access standard updates.
Tailoring IFS Cloud: the three scenarios
The first Tailoring approach is by applying Configurations. Process owners can use a friendly user interface and tools to refine functionality without the need for any coding skills. Because all changes are at a configuration level, the core code in the IFS Cloud platform is left unchanged, allowing standard updates to continue seamlessly. As using configurations is a non-invasive approach, it should always be the first choice if the enhancements can be achieved.
The second Tailoring route, extend on the outside, refers to the use of IFS Cloud open RESTFul APIs to integrate with, or build extensions to, the solution completely on the outside of IFS Cloud. Again, this approach leaves the IFS core unchanged, allowing evergreen updates as normal.
The third and last resort Tailoring option, extend on the inside (also referred to as modification or customization), sees changes made to the standard internal core code when a business-critical change isn’t possible using configuration or extend on the outside –for instance having to address a unique local regulatory, legal or fiscal requirement. This invasive approach, however, could have long-term implications for your ability to apply standard updates and cost of maintenance.
The decision to customize must not be taken lightly. It should be carefully considered to ensure the business need warrants the compromises that may ensue. An update may require your customized code to be merged in order to comply – a time-consuming and potentially costly exercise required for the lifetime of the solution. When making decisions about tailoring customizations you need to consider, not only the initial development cost, but the total cost of ownership over the lifecycle.
Sense-check with a clear strategy
Having a clear Tailoring strategy to assess and plan any customizations will help ensure the need is justified and that the changes will deliver real long-term value to the business. Ensuring DevSecOps standards and IFS Guidelines and Best Practices are being followed will minimize a customization’s impact on the core IFS Cloud application.
Adopting a non-invasive tailoring approach ensures the organization can benefit from new IFS Cloud functionality introduced in bi-annual Release Updates and important bug fixes accumulated in monthly Service Updates.
For more practical guidance when advising the board, download the guide now.
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