IFMS frequently asked questions

1 What is the IFMS Project?

The IFMS Project is a project within our Finance Reform Programme to introduce a modern finance and procurement system for the health sector. This project will equip us with modern technology, standard finance and procurement processes, and a new operating model based on shared services. This is known as the IFMS Project, which stands for integrated financial management system.

2 Why is the IFMS Project needed?

Our finance systems are simply not fit for purpose. We must replace our multiple, fragmented, non-standard legacy financial systems with a modern single national financial management and procurement system.

The system will create many benefits for the health sector. We’ll cut down the time we spend processing financial transactions, will report more clearly and in more detail on our finances and will be able to make more informed decisions about spending.

The objective of IFMS is to provide the systems and technology that will allow a rebalancing of effort in corporate management between transactional processing; compliance and control; and decision support. This will allow the organisation to focus on financial management, governance and improved decision making as laid out in the Financial Management Framework for the health sector.

3 Will there be disruption for patients to health and social care services?

No, we’ll work in partnership with organisations before, during and after they move to the new system to make sure there is no disruption to patient care.

4 How will the new system affect suppliers?

From mid-2020 we began supporting our suppliers to move to an online purchasing system called IFMS SAP Ariba. While some suppliers are ready to use it immediately, for others it will understandably take longer.

For suppliers, this involves agreeing a catalogue with us listing their items and prices, taking part in online meetings and testing everything works smoothly. Once they’re on the system, suppliers receive approved purchase orders by email, fulfil the order, submit an online invoice to us, then receive payment. This saves everyone time.

5 How will the new system affect staff?

Under the new system, new processes, data and new ways of working will mean changes to some roles. A shared services function will take on some work that some local finance and procurement staff are doing now. For those affected, there will be opportunities to develop, retrain and move into a new type of role. As each organisation prepares, there will be support to make sense of exactly how things will change for each person.

We’ll train users who will be involved in purchasing, receipting, budgeting and financial reporting to use the new system. This will be an opportunity to use modern technology and develop new skills. Unlike current systems, it will not just be finance and procurement staff who are using the new system. While approximately 6,000 people use the systems we have now, we’ll support many more staff, more than 30,000, to use the new system. These staff will use a simple app on their computer, phone or other mobile device to quickly and easily order goods or services.

6 How will the HSE introduce the new system?

We’re designing, building and testing the new system, working in collaboration with organisations to make sure the system will work smoothly. We’ll then introduce the new system with some organisations, in four groups. Building on what we learn all the time, we’ll gradually introduce the new system with further groups of organisations. We will gather feedback and make improvements to the process at each phase of the project. 

7 Which health and social care services will use the new system?

We’re working in partnership with organisations to bring the new system to the entire health sector:

  • all services provided by the HSE, known as statutory services
  • voluntary organisations that are exclusively or almost exclusively funded by the HSE, known as Section 38 organisations
  • voluntary organisations that receive funding from the HSE, known as Section 39 organisations
  • Tusla, Child and Family Agency

8 When will the HSE move to the new system?

We’ll develop and gradually introduce the new system across the health sector between now and 2028. Given the scale of the project, introducing it in stages will give us the best chance to make sure the move is smooth for every organisation and its staff.

In 2021, we’re designing, building and testing the new system, working in collaboration with statutory HSE and voluntary organisations to make sure that it is designed in line with contemporary best practice processes, leverages best in class technology and will meet the requirements of the entire health sector.

In 2022 and 2023, we’ll introduce the new system with an initial group of statutory HSE and voluntary organisations. The services in Phase 1 include HSE East, Tusla, a Section 38 acute hospital, a Section 38 community organisation, HSE West, a Section 39 organisation and HSE South. As we progress through deployments, we'll be gathering feedback to make improvements to the process of making the move.

Building on what we learn all the time, Phase 2 will involve gradually introducing the new system with further groups of statutory HSE and voluntary organisations.

This timeline is subject to change (updated January 2021).

9 What support will there be to adapt to the changes?

We have a change management team in place to communicate with, train and support individuals and organisations who are directly or indirectly affected. If you’d like to get in touch, you can contact us at change.ifms@hse.ie.