Expert consulting services to oversee smooth transition to IFS Apps 9 solution.
About Butcher’s Pet Care
Butcher’s Pet Care is the second largest wet can producer of dog food in the UK market. It was set up in 1987 by Graham Baker, whose family were award winning farmers of beef cattle for many years. Butcher’s Pet Care owns the ‘Butcher’s’ ‘Butcher’s Choice’ and ‘Butcher’s Superior’ dog food brands and the ‘Classic’ cat food brand. They employ more than 200 people at their base in Crick, Northamptonshire and have been using IFS since 2005.
Having originally implemented IFS in 2005, leading pet food manufacturer, Butcher’s Pet Care, decided in 2016, that the time was right to begin the process of upgrading their IFS Apps 2004 solution to IFS Apps 9.
With their IFS system firmly established, the focus now was for Butcher’s to benefit from a modern solution that would reduce the level of business risk which arose from working from an outdated platform. “Finding people who were familiar with Apps 2004 was becoming more and more difficult. We were working on an old system, using old servers, running unsupported software, but we couldn’t simply replace one aspect of the system, it had to be done as a complete project.” explained, Jeff Martins, Financial Controller at Butcher’s Pet Care. “We were looking to uplift our existing set-up, warts and all, and run it on the new Apps 9 solution. We were not looking to undertake any re-engineering of existing business processes at this stage, this would be done at a later date. We simply wanted to reduce the risk associated with our old system and keep the business running.”
Why Cooper Software?
The planned IFS Apps 9 upgrade was one of several major IT projects Butcher’s Pet Care were working on simultaneously. On reviewing the project plan supplied by IFS, and the necessary technical administration tasks required to facilitate the upgrade, it was clear to Butcher’s that as this was their first IFS upgrade, to make the project a success, they needed to engage an ERP consultancy who could fill identified gaps in resource and expertise.
Butcher’s Pet Care had previously worked with Cooper Software on a number of IFS related projects. Cooper Software’s warehouse management and data capture solution, ACQUIRE, was in use throughout their warehouse and they had also developed a Goods Receipt and Direct Issuing QlikView application to automate daily, weekly and monthly reporting requirements. Knowing that Cooper Software also had extensive experience in delivering IFS upgrade and implementation projects, Butcher’s were keen to draw from their capability and know-how, trusting them to provide guidance, oversight and when required, consultancy and training.
Cooper Software provided Butcher’s Pet Care with both technical and functional consulting services to help guide and act as an additional resource to undertake some of the technical administration tasks which formed part of the upgrade plan. These tasks included; security, profiles, reporting, custom menus and interfaces. Butcher’s had the experience within their own IT team to undertake some of these tasks themselves, however, reporting was one critical area which was identified as requiring additional support, namely the uplift and understanding of IALs and Crystal / Quick Reports. Cooper Software’s technical consultants supported Butcher’s with this aspect, managing the coding, set-up and configuration.
In addition to the technical administration tasks, Butcher’s Pet Care sought to remove all existing modifications, which stood at over 40. The aim was to create a zero-modification environment to avoid costly installation and maintenance fees and remove limitations on future upgrades. Cooper Software customised, configured and developed replacements to all current modifications, including six that were not available as standard in Apps 9. All but one modification was removed, however without Cooper Software’s expertise, this figure would have been higher. Furthermore, Butcher’s had to uplift their existing critical business applications, including ACQUIRE, which was deeply embedded within their IFS solution. Cooper Software’s consultants advised on the successful uplift of these to Apps 9 with minimum impact on the business.
Cooper Software provided guidance and advice to Butcher’s Pet Care throughout the upgrade process, regularly attending the project team meetings, either remotely or on-site, providing advice on the transfer of objects between iterations and on testing procedures. Butcher’s were responsible for the overall management of the project, however Cooper Software also acted as an additional project management advisor, offering on-going support and providing additional insight to ensure the project was delivered on time and on budget. Cooper Software provided Butcher’s Pet Care with additional resource on the ground during the go-live weekend and continue to provide support to ensure the smooth transition to the upgraded Apps 9 solution.
Commenting on the project, Jeff Martins said: “The technical and functional consultancy support Cooper Software have provided for our IFS Apps 9 upgrade has successfully allowed us to scope and shape the solution, ensuring we have a system which meets the complex needs of our business. Cooper Software have acted as an extension of the Butcher’s team – I knew I could call them at any time and they would take an independent view, listening to issues or concerns and discussing potential solutions.”
He continued “Since going live at the end of April, with phase 1, the process has gone remarkably well. We took ad- vantage of the bank holiday weekend, shutting down the entire factory and then starting back up as each shift came on, beginning with the warehouse team which is the most critical as they are heart and soul of the business. Other than the minor hitches you would expect, everything went smoothly. We are really pleased with the position we are in as we edge towards the end of the first month. The expertise and guidance Cooper Software provided has been a key factor in helping us reach this point and has meant that a lot of the nerves and sleepless nights usually associated with this type of project have been greatly reduced!”
Plan For The Future
With the first phase of the upgrade complete, Butcher’s are now looking towards phase 2 of the project. This will look at process re-engineering, considering what can be changed with the new functionality provided by Apps 9. A number of other projects are also being worked on to maximise Butcher’s investment in the solution. Again, working with Cooper Software, Butcher’s have developed a Quality Assurance Detailing Process to detain products which do not meet quality requirements. This is due to be implemented by the end of July.
Reflecting on the project, Frank Cooper, Managing Director of Cooper Software noted: “As an IFS Partner, we are committed to ensuring that our customers are supported by our expert consultants, all of whom have extensive experience in IFS upgrades and implementations. Apps 9 offers a flexible, open architecture, which will allow Butcher’s Pet Care to get the most out of the solution, meeting the demanding manufacturing needs of their business. We have delivered 15 IFS projects in the last year alone and therefore understand the needs of our clients and how to ensure we deliver a robust solution on time and on budget.”