This week, this Editor attended and spoke at QAD Explore 2016, the annual customer conference for ERP technology provider QAD. Candidly, this was my first experience attending this conference and I was impressed from a number of perspectives. This posting is one of subsequent commentaries that will explore such impressions and insights.

From an ERP technology support perspective, QAD is primarily serving tier one and other mid-market manufacturers and services providers as well as divisions or lines-of-business needs of major global manufacturers. Regarding the latter, one positive impression were the names and affiliations of certain corporate attendees present and interactive at this conference, corporate names often associated with a very large global German based ERP provider.

Since 2012, QAD has been investing a hefty R&D budget directed at a major revamp of the firm’s ERP applications and technology deployment strategy. The effort is termed “Connected Enterprise” and it includes emphasis on enabling what this technology provider terms a more effective organization with more connected business processes. The emphasis is on providing more standardized solutions, a more flexible platform, suite-wide analytics with product enhancements supporting program/project management, manufacturing automation and customer engagement needs. Anther major emphasis is directed in enhancing the user experience and in providing both Cloud ERP and Cloud EDI deployment options. During the conference, executives announced that 30 percent of QAD’s existing customers are now utilizing the Cloud platform.

Regarding Cloud, since March of last year, the ERP technology provider has embarked on what it terms as its “Channel Islands” development strategy, a series of twice annual releases further enhancing Cloud ERP. The effort began with the Santa Cruz Release in March of 2015. Other releases are “Channel Island” planned for 2017 and “Santa Rosa”, planned for 2018. Each release, the result of joint-development efforts with existing customers among different industry sectors, addresses added Cloud based functionality needs.

What impressed this analyst was the flexibility of options that QAD is providing its customers. Instead of a forced march approach compelling customers to move to the Cloud, QAD has fostered options to both maintain existing behind-the-firewall applications and supplementally deploy Cloud based applications within an overall cohesive systems architecture framework. Cloud modules are provided in process areas termed Customer, Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Finance. Overall, QAD’s emphasis is in helping its customers overcome any major disruptions related to advanced technology deployment via a strategy of continuous, manageable extensions and/or release upgrades.  That is quite refreshing from an ERP provider.

A final impression relates to two prior acquisitions that QAD made related to supply chain support needs which are now incorporated both as add-ons to QAD’s ERP support capabilities and as separate operating divisions.

In June of 2012, QAD acquired European based supply chain planning technology provider DynaSys S.A., a specialized planning vendor catering to specific mid-market industry players within France and Europe. Since that time, the supply chain planning capabilities of DynaSys have been incorporated in what is termed Demand and Supply Chain Planning (DynaSys Cloud DSCP) within QAD.  As noted, also as an operating division of QAD with an independent branding, DynaSys provides supply chain planning support for non-QAD customers, including those with other ERP backbone systems. This has fostered experience that supports the demand and supply chain planning needs of broader industry verticals and integration experience with other ERP and legacy systems.

Another operating division is Precision, a Cloud based transportation management and international trade compliance technology provider that operates in a similar manner. QAD and non-QAD customers can adopt Precision’s trade management support capabilities.

I had the opportunity to conduct introductory briefings with executives from both of these operating divisions, and candidly, was very impressed with technology and support efforts undertaken by both. So much so that I will be conducting more in-depth briefings upon which highlights and insights will be shared in a later Supply Chain Matters posting.

In a subsequent postings related to QAD Explore, we will share more impressions and insights related to QAD customers and their needs, as well as discuss the session that this author served as a guest panelist. Our panel session addressed the ongoing challenges and root causes of skill and training gaps related to today’s manufacturing and supply chain industry environments.

Stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari

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