ERP Insights >> Magazine  >> March - 2021 issue

QAD: Creating The Best Full-Featured Manufacturing ERP Solutions To Address Customers Needs

Author : Jan Biezepol, Managing Director, South Asia
Monday, March 15, 2021

Jan Biezepol, Managing Director, South Asia

Tell us about the inception story of QAD. What motivated you towards the establishment of the firm?
In 1979, QAD was founded by Pamela Lopker, who was later joined by her husband Karl Lopker, as a small startup solution to address a large gap in complete, integrated business software for manufacturing companies. It's been over four decades; we still focus solely on manufacturing.

We began with a few local customers, supporting them from our headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. But as our customers took their brands to the next level- international-we adapted quickly to keep up. Today, we support customers in over 100 countries around the world. Our products have gone global, too, and we have spent years innovating and growing our offering as our customers expand their businesses overseas.

You'll often hear us say that at the heart of QAD is a strong and loyal customer community. We believe that to create the best full-featured manufacturing ERP solutions for our customers we need to work together. We pride ourselves on our customer engagement and our commitment to continually evolve as the manufacturing industry changes.

How do you evaluate the current market landscape of Manufacturing Solutions across the globe? What are the market-challenges when it comes to ERP adoption across mainstream industries?
Global manufacturers face ever-increasing disruption caused by many factors that include the COVID-19 pandemic, technology-driven innovation, changing consumer preferences and new and revised government regulations. To succeed in the face of this unprecedented change, manufacturers must be able to quickly adapt by rethinking their business models and processes. QAD calls companies that can do this rapidly, Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprises.

QAD Adaptive ERP and the QAD Adaptive Applications portfolio of solutions help Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprises become more agile, intelligent and innovative.

QAD solutions help Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprises drive innovation in the face of change by addressing five critical capabilities:
- Effective Enterprise Management enables manufacturers to operate from a trusted set of essential enterprise processes including integrated multicurrency, multi-GAAP and multi-entity financials, best practice purchasing, shared services, real-time data and flexible data analytics.
- Digital Manufacturing allows manufacturers to leverage digital and advanced technologies to better communicate, analyze and use real-time information to meet cost and quality objectives.
- Complete Customer Management delivers an outstanding customer experience that builds the company's brand and helps acquire, sell to and retain customers with less effort and expense.
- Integrated Supplier Management improves supplier collaboration and supply chain visibility allowing for faster response to changes in supply and demand.
- Connected Supply Chain helps manufacturers effectively collaborate with supply chain partners and address the challenges associated with managing complex and ever-changing global supply chains.

"QAD INC. Is a leading provider of adaptive, Cloudbased enterprise software and services for global manufacturing companies"

Elaborate on your flagship solutions. Also, what motivated you to come up with these products? How are these products filling the gaps in the industry?
Our suite of solutions, called QAD Adaptive Applications, is designed specifically for automotive suppliers, life sciences, consumer products, food and beverage, high technology and industrial products manufacturers. We offer a full set of core manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain planning (SCP) capabilities. Our architecture, called the QAD Enterprise Platform, allows manufacturers to rapidly upgrade existing functionality; and extend or create new applications that are dependable, secure and scalable, providing manufacturers with the flexibility they need to innovate and rapidly adapt to change.

QAD Adaptive ERP is built with industry best practices for global manufacturers based on QAD's deep industry-specific expertise. The result is faster implementations and greater fit out of the box. QAD Adaptive ERP makes it easy to develop and maintain “last-mile” functionality that provides manufacturers with their competitive advantage. Extensions and new apps can be created in a low code/no code environment and, unlike intrusive customizations, do not create rigidity that interferes with upgrades.

The QAD Adaptive Applications portfolio includes a variety of complementary solutions including the QAD Supplier Portal, QAD Field Service Management, QAD EQMS, QAD Precision and QAD DynaSys DSCP. Whether a manufacturer is interested in supplier relationship management, eInvoicing, EDI, trade management, supply chain planning, demand planning, transportation execution, asset management, customer self-service, quality management, data collection/label printing, IoT, cloud integration or analytics, QAD Adaptive Applications offers a proven set of solutions, all fully integrated with QAD Adaptive ERP.

What are the challenges that your clients usually come up with? Also, how is QAD Solutions helping its clients meet its objectives?
Manufacturers face unprecedented disruption, which forces them to constantly evaluate how they do business and the processes by which they run their organizations. Changing customer demands that force companies to make to order at scale or offer their products as a service (Anything as a Service), and the ever-increasing pace of technological disruption demand that companies embrace agility. Manufacturers must also evaluate an ever-changing array of new technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, data lakes and digital twins, and employ business solutions that allow them to leverage them for competitive advantage in support of their businesses' use case.

Another problem faced by manufacturers is that many traditional ERPs were not designed for change and do not support "last mile" functionality unique to a given manufacturer. To overcome this limitation, traditional ERP relies on customization which requires considerable time and cost to implement and maintain. As vendors release new ERP versions, customizations make upgrading incredibly difficult; each customization needs to be tested in the new release and many will break and require redevelopment. The combination of poor initial fit and long-term inflexibility inevitably leads to the need for a new ERP. We call this the death cycle of ERP and unfortunately some manufacturers keep repeating the death cycle of ERP by investing over and over again in inflexible ERP solutions. This results in higher IT costs, but more importantly, higher business costs and an inability to respond to change and opportunities.

"QAD adaptive ERP solutions help customers in the automotive, life sciences, consumer products, food and beverage, high tech and industrial manufacturing industries rapidly adapt to change and innovate for competitive advantage"

QAD Adaptive ERP is flexible after implementation to support process changes that keep those processes aligned with a company's evolving business strategy. Our entire Adaptive Applications portfolio is designed to help companies become more agile, and in the end, become Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprises.

What makes QAD different from its competitors in the industry? What is the USP of your product? Also, what are the unique benefits that the company assures its clients?
An agile and effective ERP solution can greatly improve business outcomes for supply chain, production, customer management, finance and other objectives. In QAD's case, we differentiate from our competition by providing software solutions in these areas in ways that are purposely and specifically built for manufacturers. Specific differentiators include:
- QAD allows customers to drive implementations in short time frames using the Easy On Boarding implementation methodology. This is based on industry best practices and is proven with successful customer examples. For multi-site customers this means a core model that balances local requirements with global consistency. All delivering benefits - fast!
- QAD is designed specifically for manufacturers and architected to provide the adaptability and flexibility required in an environment of accelerating change. QAD Adaptive ERP allows customers to flex and drive the change needed to adapt without the typical repercussions of heavy customization and lack of future agility.
- QAD is based on industry best practices for selected verticals and segments. Multi-regional and mixed mode manufacturers can be catered for within the one solution helping drive greater efficiency and digital transformation. Overall the QAD approach and solution are designed to ensure the customer drives effectiveness.

Tell us about QAD's Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise Maturity Model. How does it help in identifying the shortcomings of the organizations and enables them into Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprises?
QAD has worked with thousands of manufacturers around the world over the years and we've identified four basic stages of maturity in regards to being prepared for and managing business disruption. Together, these stages compose what we call the Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise Maturity Model. The Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise Maturity Model Diagnostic, is a complimentary new tool designed to help manufacturing companies gauge their ability to recognize and adapt to disruption. Using this diagnostic tool, which is available at qad.com, companies can gain insight into how they can increase their ability to thrive during times of unprecedented change.

The Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise Maturity Model Diagnostic helps companies identify their business's strengths and potential weaknesses in the context of business disruption. It places companies in one of four stages along what QAD calls the Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise Maturity Model. Each stage, Disjointed Enterprise, Functional Enterprise, Effective Enterprise and Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise describes certain characteristics related to a company's ability to cope with disruption.

The results of the Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise Maturity Model Diagnostic can help manufacturing companies answer the following questions:
- What does my company need to do to prepare for and manage disruption?
- How does my company compare to an ideal Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise?
- What does my company need to do to become an Adaptive Manufacturing Enterprise?

How do you harbor innovation among your employees? Please throw some light on the organizational culture and employee program of QAD.
QAD harbors innovation as a core part of our culture. It starts with our operating principles of Clarity, Unity and Agility.
- Clarity - A shared purpose and vision.
- Unity - Our values drive how we operate, work with each other and customers. These values include Drive for Results, Commit to the Team, Extreme Ownership, Do the Right Thing and Challenge the Status Quo.
- Agility - Agility is the final part of the framework ensuring we have a dynamic learning culture, role mobility, rapid iteration and experimentation.

In India, The HR Team has focused on three areas to foster connectivity, engagement, and collaboration which we feel are instrumental for harboring innovation. These three specific areas include enhanced onboarding, crossfunctional virtual engagement and recognition. We went from having 232 employees working in Mumbai's physical office space to nearly all of them working remotely as the pandemic reached India. This was a huge change for many of our employees ranging from interns to senior level managers who were accustomed to working in close proximity to their colleagues in a vibrant, collaborative, social and highly connected bricks and mortar office.

- Virtual Onboarding: The HR Team in India took extra efforts to design a two-day orientation program versus standard one-day orientation.

- Cross Functional Virtual Engagement: To enhance engagement and cross-team collaboration, the HR team has been executing cross-functional virtual sessions. They have conducted 9 sessions to date.

- Recognition: This year, we have been conducting virtual awards ceremonies where managers introduce and share the employee's innovative approach as they are announcing the award nominees and winners.

QAD was recognized as one of India's "Dream Companies to work for" at World HRD Congress 2020. Also, QAD India Senior Manager, HR Operations Rupali Mahadik was named one of the 'Top HR Minds' in the Indian information technology industry.

Is there any innovation or up-gradation currently happening in your industry that might be reflected in the way you provide your solutions and services?
One of the biggest trends in enterprise software is the move to the cloud. QAD was one of the first ERP companies to move to the cloud and our transformation into a cloud company continues. We launched our first cloud solution, QAD Supplier Portal, in 2003, and gave our customers the option to deploy ERP in the cloud in 2007. In 2013, in order to be able to offer cloud solutions purpose-built for manufacturers, QAD launched the multi-year Channel Islands Initiative, which resulted in QAD's Adaptive UX and the QAD Enterprise Platform, on which the current QAD Adaptive Applications portfolio is built.

QAD's cloud architecture encompasses infrastructure provisioning and application deployment, management, monitoring and security; providing a world-class development operations practice built around Information Technology Infrastructure Library ("ITIL") standards.

QAD's cloud infrastructure operates on a cloud management platform enabling QAD to deploy customer systems to one of a number of global cloud infrastructure providers as part of the QAD cloud offering.

Our cloud delivery centers are certified under the ISO 9001:2008 standard for quality management, the ISO 20000:2011 standard for service management ("SMS"), the ISO 27001:2013 standard for information security management ("ISMS"), the FDA 21 CFR Part 11 requirements for electronic records and signatures, and the SSAE 16 (SOC I-Type II) requirements for reporting and compliance controls.

Through QAD Easy On Boarding implementation practices, QAD is able to get customers live with QAD Adaptive ERP in months, not the year or years that some larger, more complex ERP solutions require.

How has QADs' growth been since its inception? Mention a few milestones achieved by the firm.
QAD began with a few local customers, supporting them from our headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. But as our customers expanded globally, we adapted quickly to keep up. Today we support customers in over 100 countries around the world. Our solutions have gone global, too, and we have spent years innovating and growing our offering as our customers expand their businesses.

In your opinion what are the major factors that have contributed to QAD's successful journey in this sector?
Since its inception in 1979, QAD has concentrated on six vertical markets in manufacturing: automotive, hightech, industrial, consumer products, food & beverage and life sciences. In each vertical market, QAD works collaboratively with leading global manufacturers and takes an active role with industry and standards bodies to embrace emerging best practices and innovative solutions to help customers stay current with industry developments and ensure regulatory compliance.

QAD has built a solid customer base of global Fortune 1000 and mid-market manufacturers who are excellent prospects for QAD's enterprise applications. With a proven track record of more than 30 years of industry leadership, QAD is ideally qualified to meet the business and technology requirements of global manufacturing companies worldwide. We develop our products with constant and direct input from leading global manufacturers within the industries we serve. This industry focus is a key differentiator for QAD, enabling our customers to implement QAD applications rapidly, realize a rapid return on investment, and achieve a low total cost of ownership compared with other vendors targeting the industries we serve.

What are the future plans of QAD? What developments can we expect from the firm in the years to come?
As a public company, we cannot talk about future plans. We will continue to help manufacturers in our six vertical industries recognize, react to and leverage disruption for business advantage.

Here are a few of our landmarks:
- 1997 - QAD stock began trading as of its initial public offering August 6
- 2003 - QAD launches first cloud product - QAD Supplier Portal
- 2005 - QAD announces QAD Global Enterprise Edition (GXE) designed to meet the needs of global manufacturers
- 2006 - QAD acquires global trade and transportation provider, Precision Software Limited
- 2007 - QAD's core product suite renamed from MFG/PRO to QAD Enterprise Applications
- 2007 - QAD acquires demand and supply chain planning software provider, DynaSys S.A.
- 2007 - QAD launches QAD Cloud ERP
- 2012 - QAD acquires quality management system provider, CEBOS
- 2015 - QAD launches the Channel Islands Project, a major, multi-phase cloud-focused initiative
- 2015 - QAD completes secondary stock offering consisting of 3 million shares of QAD Class A common stock.
- 2018 - QAD acquires the assets of PT Iris and launches Indian office in Mumbai
- 2020 - As of Jan. 31, 2020, QAD had approximately 1,920 full-time employees worldwide.