IFS Joins the Corporate Social Responsibility Fray

While day 1 of the IFS World Conference 2012 in Gothenburg, Sweden was mostly about mobility, day 2 expanded into some other interesting themes and topics. IFS has long positioned itself as a single-instance global enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution alternative to SAP and Oracle. The realm of corporate social responsibility (CSR) presents notable challenges for organizations due to the intricacy of global and local laws and regulations and the difficulty in navigating them. In his keynote presentation (which he mostly repeated in his subsequent presentation to the press/analysts), IFS CTO Dan Matthews pointedly stated that CSR is difficult to manage at a global level. Research by IFS and analysts has identified more than 140 CSR laws and regulations, 65 percent of which are mandatory. Add local flavors to that, and the level of complexity skyrockets.

To that end, IFS announced the launch of four new CSR solutions that are applicable in a wide range of industries, covering environmental needs, workplace safety, global trade management (GTM), and quality compliance aspects of CSR. IFS seems to understand well the importance of CSR, both in terms of legal compliance and leveraging enhanced business insight to boost profitability. While some political parties and the general mood of the public in the US might currently be inclined to belittle CSR and green (sustainability) initiatives as mere tree-hugging, CSR is a wide-ranging concept that has the potential to impact IFS customers’ businesses.

In addition to saving the planet and creating the perception of being a responsible corporate citizen (with both its tangible and intangible benefits), smart companies view CSR as an opportunity to improve their business processes and competitiveness. After all, some regulations will never be repealed. And what if, say, a US company that doesn't have strict local regulations still wants to compete in regions with more affinity for environmental protection and regulations? By closely monitoring the market and working with its customers, IFS has developed fully integrated solutions that can help customers turn the challenges of (often voluntary) non-financial reporting into a business improvement opportunity.

The new IFS CSR solutions, which have been developed in close collaboration with industry-leading customers, are as follows:

  • Eco-footprint Management 2.0—Building on Version 1.0, which covers activities ranging from raw material sourcing to product design to logistics and emissions tracking and follow up, Version 2.0 contains a number of improvements in terms of standards compliance within the manufacturing sector.

  • Occupational Health & Safety—IFS Health & Safety provides companies with a solution for protecting the safety, health, and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The solution offers and integrated platform for safety policy management, risk assessment, incident management, and key performance indicators (KPIs) reporting. This should help IFS customers to comply with legislation as well as health, safety, and environmental industry standards.

  • Export Control—IFS Export Control is a comprehensive solution to support companies handling products subject to export restrictions, e.g., military equipment or hi-tech electronics to rogue countries. The solution, also developed with industry-leading customers, identifies any restrictions pertaining to the product in question (e.g., the use of so-called conflict minerals), prevents sales/purchase, or, if a valid export license exists, uses the correct export license. The solution also prevents/allows sales to denied parties defined by customer, supplier, end-user, etc.

  • Quality Assurance—IFS QA solution provides system support for quality standards compliance planning, fully integrated audit management, fully integrated non-conformance reporting, and corrective and preventive actions (CAPA). Combined, these quality features should help organizations assure and document compliance with voluntary as well as legally bound standards and policies. The solution is also equipped with a graphical analysis tool.

In conclusion, IFS joins the elite club of ERP vendors that can help their customers with global CSR and GTM needs (e.g., SAP, Oracle, Infor, and QAD). Some of its quality- and sustainability-related capabilities are often available in the product lifecycle management (PLM)/computer-aided design (CAD) packages offered by large vendors. It will be interesting to watch whether IFS customers will opt for these capabilities from their ERP or their PLM provider. It is also interesting that these features are delivered on-premise as part of the core IFS Applications suite. In contrast, SAP offers SAP Carbon Impact OnDemand (former Clear Standards) as a cloud service.  

TEC blog post (Oct 2011): IFS: Of Vertical Focus, and Customers’ Agility and Choice??
TEC overview: IFS Applications
comments powered by Disqus