As an industry director for process manufacturing at IFS, I enjoy being in the middle of everything that is happening in this vital market space.
And we get to discuss and address all of the changes and trends affecting the process manufacturing industry at the IFS Process Manufacturing Industry Advisory Council meetings, which include some of our most important customers.
We have a number of these industry councils. Each holds an associated annual event that unites key customers and IFS decision makers from both corporate and regional level together to discuss topics of common interest. The meetings focus on industry trends, how IFS Applications can be used to support a particular process or requirement, R&D updates, and the development roadmap for the year ahead.
IFS’ footprint in process manufacturing is primarily with producers of formulated packaged goods. We offer two annual meetings in this area: one focused on the food and beverage industry and another for our customers in the chemical industry. Both councils have been up running for about ten years, and we are happy to see a growing interest in these meetings. Most important is of course that our customers recognize the value, but it also provides IFS with a means of getting closer to customers, understanding the challenges and requirements that are emerging within their industries.
So why have our industry councils turned out to be such a success? Well, I can think of a few reasons.
- First, your choice of enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor is a long term decision. If you can influence the vendor to invest development capacity in issues that really matter to your business, you will benefit tremendously. IFS is and will remain the most agile ERP vendor in the marketplace. IFS Applications is single product, built on a single technology using agile development methodologies. That gives us the flexibility to align the product with market requirements and short time to market. In this context, the advisory council meetings play a major role in formulating and prioritizing specific requirements of the market in general and our customers in particular.
- Secondly, advisory councils provide a valuable opportunity to talk to other companies facing the same challenges as you are. By setting an agenda which focuses on the most pertinent industry issues, attendees can debate with industry peers, often finding surprisingly simple solutions to issues that may have seemed overly complex at first.
- Finally, these meetings are the touchstone for ongoing collaborative relationships with your peers. After initial meetings at an industry council, we’ve seen customers collaborating long after the fact to improve the ways in which they use IFS Applications. This is how best practice becomes reality.
If you see your investment in IFS Applications as a long-term strategy, are willing to share some of your insights and influence the future direction of the product, then the IFS Advisory Councils are for you. There is perhaps no better way to ensure that IFS Applications will continue to be developed to meet your specific needs.
You don’t have to be an expert in IFS Applications to benefit from the councils — that’s our job. Instead, we hope you can help us improve our understanding of the specific challenges in your business, so that we can continue to provide the best levels of service and innovative solutions to our customers.
Even as I write this, we are gearing up for our next food and beverage meeting, which will be hosted by IFS customer Boyd’s Coffee in Portland, Oregon.
We have a good mix of companies attending — some that have been working with IFS for many years as well as new customers. They will learn from each other and we will learn from them. That is exactly the way we like to work with our customers.