IFS implementation in iconic Yorkshire food and drink business

Fluid joined forces with Bettys & Taylors Group, implementing a large-scale technological transformation programme with ERP implementation.

A Great Yorkshire Family Business

Bettys & Taylors Group is home to three iconic brands, Yorkshire Tea, Bettys Café Tea Rooms, and Taylors of Harrogate. The first Bettys opened in 1919 and more than 100 years later the Group remains an independent family business. Today the company employs 1500 people and is committed to being a great place to work and making a positive difference in the world. The Group is a certified CarbonNeutral® company and their tea and coffee range is also certified as CarbonNeutral®. 

Out with the old – the switch to IFS

Bettys & Taylors Group embarked on a large-scale technological transformation programme with ERP implementation. The company had been working on a platform that was twenty years old, and over time, had expanded to include multiple systems, manual workarounds and widespread reliance on spreadsheets to manipulate data.

“We did an assessment that showed any one user working on their daily activities was across three to four systems. The most we had for one user was seven systems, just to do their day to day job.”

Johanne McKee, Systems Programme Manager in Group IT

The company selected IFS as the right system to meet requirements across the two distinct businesses: Bettys Café Tea Rooms and online shop, and Taylors of Harrogate. While the two have different products and processes, they both uphold the highest standards of quality, customer service and operational excellence. They remain committed to being a responsible business that cares about and shares its success with stakeholders.

The Group had anticipated the IFS implementation would require customisations, known as CRIMs (Customisations, Reports, Integrations and Migrations) to adapt the system to their bespoke ways of working. It quickly became apparent to Johanne that the business had gaps in resources required for the implementation programme. They needed the support of an experienced partner – one who could supply a mix of capabilities on a fractional, or part time basis, as well as full time.

“We looked at some of the more established IFS players and they felt quite hard line. When we had the same conversations with Fluid there was much more flexibility around what we needed during the implementation, as opposed to signing up to a three-year partnership.

From our first conversations with Fluid, we felt we had a good fit. They understood our requirements and our collaborative culture and approach. There wasn’t that sense of us and them.”

Johanne McKee, Systems Programme Manager in Group IT

In it together – Fluid joins forces with Bettys & Taylors Group

Fluid came onboard in November 2019, initially to support the IFS implementation of HR and payroll modules for more than 1300 users across Bettys & Taylors. The Group teams had already held a series of workshops to write and prioritise the specifications or specs for CRIMs. Fluid Technical Director Will met with Johanne to shape deployment, balancing the potential risk and impact of customisations with the overall benefits to the business. There was a gap in resource around data so Fluid stepped in to manage migration from the legacy system into IFS. Fluid augmented the team at Bettys & Taylors with a mix of technical capabilities, some fractional, some part or full time, flexing resource up and down in response to the needs of the programme.

“It’s a true partnership. For me it’s about the level of trust and engagement, listening to each other’s thoughts, ideas and experience. When we were talking about the volume of CRIMS to develop and where the pinch points were, rather than Fluid telling us what we needed to do, we had really useful discussions about our options. They gave us experienced guidance that we felt was extremely valuable.”

Johanne McKee, Systems Programme Manager in Group IT

It’s good practice to keep software customisations to a minimum, too many can take customers far away from the IFS platform and introduce unsupported issues into system updates and upgrades. However, good customisations create efficiencies by streamlining and automating processes. For Taylors this included a bespoke tea-blending customisation, registering and tracking stock from more than 30,000 warehouse bays, customer compliances and receipt of stock transfers between sites.

Fluid brought their expertise in IFS customisations, adding custom code in PL/SQL packages in a development environment, utilising version control and consistently deploying code to test environments. Each CRIM is peer reviewed, tested and user acceptance tested before it’s released into production.

Throughout the implementation Bettys & Taylors Group and Fluid have been learning together and further developing their knowledge and skills. Fluid has been mentoring the Bettys & Taylors team, building confidence and capability that will run for the full product lifecycle. In return, the Group has allowed opportunities for the Fluid team to grow within their roles, continuing to improve their practices.

“I love working with Fluid. We work things out together and we respect each other. Bettys & Taylors is a values-led family business and my experience with Fluid has shown that we share a lot of the same principles- investing in our people and our passion for the work we do.”

Johanne McKee, Systems Programme Manager in Group IT

The partnership continues

The HR and payroll modules are now live and Bettys & Taylors and Fluid's partnership on the transformation programme is moving into the next phase. Modules on finance, procurement and manufacturing in Taylors are set to go live and work continues on the integration between IFS and Bettys online shop application.

The programme will continue until the IFS implementation is complete throughout Bettys & Taylors Group.

Fluid Technical Director Will Newham said: “We were able to add value straightaway and within seven weeks worked with the Bettys & Taylors project team to get IFS HR and Payroll up and running in parallel with the legacy system. Our partnership has gone from strength to strength. We’ve introduced tools which have also been adopted into their BAU, and the project has given our team opportunities to learn and grow alongside each other.”

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