by   |    |  Estimated reading time: 5 minutes  |  in Customer, ERP Enterprise Resource Planning, IFS Cloud   |  tagged , , , ,

Another few years and another IFS upgrade! A while back I posted my upgrade story on the IFS Blog and I wanted to follow up on that.

One good decision my company made many years ago was that we would upgrade our ERP on a regular schedule to prevent the system getting “stale”. A big driver was that by upgrading regularly, you don’t have to do the massive uplifts that occur when you are three versions behind.  IFS Cloud makes staying Evergreen a lot easier, and I’ll discuss that later.

ERP systems upgrades are not fun. They are a lot of work, and planning, testing and preparation are crucial elements to a successful upgrade.  If you are upgrading from IFS 10 to Cloud I strongly recommend you start by moving your users to the web client.  We did it department by department following a set pattern.

Preparation is key

The staff of each department was given permissions in the web client then we sent them to an excellent training video as well as a PowerPoint presentation on how to navigate and the PDF web user guide.  We asked them to self-train for a week and we then scheduled four two-hour Q&A sessions to answer all their questions.  We allocated three weeks for each department with a one week overlap while a department self-trained. This was successful and by the time we had an actual cloud environment to test, most of our users were comfortable with the web client.

Because of the major changes in the API and database structure with the cloud upgrade it’s important to get your 3rd party suppliers on board early. In a few cases they had to completely redesign their apps and it took quite a bit of work and time.

The IFS Academy has been redone and is a wonderful source of training, particularly on the technical side.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how much information I was able to get from the IFS Community Forums.  Your upgrade will go smoother if you utilize these resources.

We received amazing assistance from the North American upgrade team. Experienced, knowledgeable, and super helpful, our upgrade would not have gone anywhere near as well without them.

Making the switch

We shut down at 6pm on “Thanksgiving Eve” and it took accounting about an hour to get their baseline numbers.  I changed tactics for this upgrade. Previously I had used a gaming rig with m.2 drives for the data import.  This time I put together a RAID10 array of HP 1.92 TB SAS-12GBPS drives.  The server had a potent hard drive RAID controller and the whole thing ended up fast.  A 1.2TB Oracle data pump import took about seven hours.

It took most of Thanksgiving Day to finish the upgrade, including upgrading from Cloud 22R2 to 23R1.  Accounting got in around 9:30PM and everything tied out. My team came in on Friday and took care of the multitude of details, tested everything and we were good to go!

Go live week we had an increase in service tickets, but it was expected.  We modified our help desk processes a bit for this project. During the training phase we allowed people to send group emails. This helped speed up the process and other people were able to see issues and solutions that could help them.  Two weeks before the upgrade we went back to our normal process.  We configured our IFS assyst help desk with IFS upgrade categories to help with managing issues after the upgrade.

Since the implementation of the Build Place, the upgrades are more technical. Even if you previously performed major IFS upgrades on your own, I recommend you make sure you have the help you need to be able to configure the upgrade.  Training in the new security, particularly projections, is crucial.

Smooth sailing into Thanksgiving, and beyond

I’m very excited about the “evergreen” experience with IFS Cloud. First off, that means this is the last major holiday I have to lose to ERP upgrades!  As part of this upgrade, we went from the 22r2 version that we had started with and done most of our testing on, to 23R1.  That took about two hours so certainly doable during a regular weekend shutdown.

One of my “upgrade rules” is we don’t improve anything during the upgrade. We try to stick to baseline as much as possible to make troubleshooting problems easier.

If anyone is concerned that I missed Thanksgiving Dinner, good news. My wife is a teacher and she discovered some of her students from foreign lands had never had a real Thanksgiving meal! That simply was not going to work so she brought in an entire spread before the holiday, and we had a lot of leftovers. That’s the best part of Thanksgiving anyway.

I have to thank my amazing staff! Everyone worked long hours and gave up their holiday to accomplish this goal! Thanks to my fellow CDF, Cheerpack and Quadpak employees for the hours they spent testing, especially the accounting staff working on Thanksgiving Day to verify the upgrade.

We are very excited to explore the new functionality in IFS Cloud! AI-driven planning and scheduling optimization is going to help increase efficiency.  We have added a new module for costing and are hoping to tie that into the improved supplier evaluation and request for quotation to help drive down material costs. With huge new functionality in each part of the solution it will certainly take us a while to explore but that’s the fun part!

Before that however, I think we’ll take a breakthrough the Holiday season. We have earned it.

By Alex Ivkovic, Chief Information Officer, CDF Corporation

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