IFS has won another major brand to its customer roster. Fugro, the Dutch multinational and leading geodata specialist, is replacing around 50 ERP solutions, including Microsoft Dynamics Navision 2009, with IFS ERP. With more than 9,000 employees across 61 countries and € 1,386 million in revenue (2020), Fugro is a significant win for IFS. Ironically, while Microsoft is losing a legacy ERP customer, it may mean that it can derive greater revenues from Fugro with IFS leveraging much of its platform. Fugro also intends to integrate the IFS ERP solution with Power BI and Microsoft CRM.
Fugro provides the data, people, equipment, expertise and technology that support the exploration, development, production and transportation of the world’s natural resources. Recent projects include:
- Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to support the BiFrost Cable System across the Pacific
- Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind data measurements
- A contract to survey and deliver a digital twin for Network Rail in Scotland
With a legacy ERP solution in place, it needed to centralise systems in a single cloud-based solution. The IFS solution will deliver a single version of business information. It will help deliver common processes across the group and increase business and financial reporting efficiency and consistency.
Mark Heine, Fugro Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Companies like us, supporting our clients in managing their complex project lifecycles, are often forced to use separate software products to manage different stages of the project, creating multiple disconnects between data, people and time.
“The IFS solution will standardize and harmonize our project-oriented processes in one highly intuitive ERP platform. Having all of our people accessing the same data and working in the same way will be faster and more enjoyable for our teams. We look forward to working with IFS to usher in the next phase of our company’s business transformation journey.”
Enterprise Times asked Fugro why it selected IFS ERP over the Microsoft Finance & Operations, the other shortlisted contender. The response was “Industry relevance and business familiarity”. Perhaps surprisingly, despite the number of offshore projects Fugro operates, the offshore synchronisation capabilities that IFS offers were not one of the differentiators. However, Fugro will consider this option in the future.
Frank Beerlage, Managing Director, IFS Benelux, commented: “Project-based service providers such as Fugro need business technology that can scale and flex as business and circumstances dictate. We have a very successful track record in developing tools for companies in some of the world’s most demanding environments, both offshore and onshore.”
Like any ERP implementation project at a multinational, it is not a simple exercise. Fugro will look to integrate other applications already in use. The open modular approach that IFS Cloud offers will allow Fugro to integrate with other existing applications. This will include TIS Payments, a platform that already manages its outbound payments globally, given the centralised visibility it now looks to deliver in a wider scope.
Other integrations will include CCH Tagetik, which it uses for financial consolidation. Platinum-level IFS partner BearingPoint will assist with the implementation with additional management and technology consultancy from IFS.
Fugro will roll out IFS modules that will support financial management, project and business management, project accounting, and purchasing. Fugro hired a program director at the start of this year. It expects the project to have met the initial needs by the end of 2023, with 40 countries completed by then. Another phase is likely to roll out through 2025, though Fugro did not define what that entailed.
One question Enterprise Times asked Fugro was about the future of its PSA software, Assistance, now Unit4 PSA. The response was: “The future of PSA will be strategized through the lifecycle of the project.”
This is not a clear indication that it will replace the Unit4 PSA. However, Fugro will consider how much value it adds against the IFS project management capabilities. Unit4 PSA is built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and with the new integration capabilities of the Unit4 architecture, a combination of solutions might still be the best way forward.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
Another billion Euro company has selected IFS. In this case, it has chosen to replace mainly Microsoft ERP applications. Can it also replace legacy Oracle and SAP applications and further accelerate its growth? This may be a tougher ask. Multinationals rarely change vendor, but IFS is proving its multinational capabilities. However, IFS is placing itself as a sensible upgrade path to the cloud for companies leveraging older Microsoft solutions.
What plays well for IFS is its close partnership with Microsoft. Its solutions are hosted on Azure and integrated with many Azure features. Companies already invested in the Microsoft platform may see IFS as a realistic option to the Microsoft business application stack.
The hard work is about to begin. IFS and Bearing Point will need to deliver against the timescales that Fugro has set. It will also need to deliver the return on investment the company is expecting. Beerlage noted: “Fugro is a well-respected brand in the project-based service space, and we are excited to be working alongside them to establish new standards of efficiency and value.”
If IFS continues to replace legacy Microsoft and other ERP solutions at ever-larger organisations would this open the door for a future Microsoft acquisition? It seems unlikely that Microsoft will want to further complicate its application offerings. However, it might not be able to ignore the growth of IFS, despite the symbiotic relationship.