Deadline works very well handling ifd generation and then running the mantra job automatically and you can get 4 licenses for free (I believe). Also, not quite sure how they would pressure an IT department?
I understand if you could just hit go and run it in a houdini that would be easier but there are (speed and memory) benefits to rendering IFDs much like there are using .ass files in Arnold. It honesty isn't a complicated thing to do once you get going and allows you to use unlimited mantra licenses for rendering at no extra cost and can work out quite economical as you scale up to a renderfarm.
BratThompson has a point here though. I don't mind using IFD files, I love them, they give us great deal of flexibility, but to take full advantage of them, you need a lot of scripting - building entire pipeline around them. They are completely redundant practically wise for novice users. SESI used to have hbatch license suitable for running only rendering, also big companies having site license of hbatch don't bother with IFD files afaik.
Last but not least, managing IFD files puts a lot of pressure for IT department, which, again, makes use of Houdini/Mantra rather harder than easier.