Exploring Channel Islands
The need to Explore is a strong human characteristic. Off the coast of Santa Barbara sit four islands which are visible from QAD’s headquarters office; On the Channel Island of Santa Rosa, scientists have confirmed that 13,000 years ago human explorers crossed over to the New World from Asia and settled the earliest widespread culture in North America.
Today, building on this same characteristic of exploration, QAD has set out to reinvent the way people use their products; not just a superficial “glossing up” of an existing platform, but a major and “deep” exploration into what users not only want –but need –from their experiences with the applications.
Historically, ERP systems have been designed and built strictly for function. The relationship between function and the user experience has been lacking, and navigating through these systems often requires memorization of function keys and bulky “Reference Sheets.” In a world where most device interfaces are Swipe, Tap, and Click, traditional ERP interfaces left a lot to be desired. QAD has set out to reinvent the ERP User Experience, to revolutionize the way people interact with their ERP products. The result is not a superficial patch of an existing platform but an in-depth examination of what users require from their applications to support an effective enterprise.
EXPLORING CHANNEL ISLANDS
Pamela Lopker, Chairman of the Board and President of QAD, and her group introduced their Channel Islands initiative in May 2015. Titled the “Next BIG Thing,” The Project Channel Islands user experience (UX) initiative represents the four islands off of the coast of Santa Barbara which are visible from QAD’s headquarters; but what the initiative is really all about is a four phased development and implementation to provide interfaces associated with basic functionalities that are attractive, usable, and that can help improve insight from the user perspective while aiding in efficient, simplified operations. Rather than “putting lipstick on a pig,” this initiative is architecturally-based and focused on the development and implementation of forward-looking trends in the user experience.
To support the rollout of the UX projects, QAD has redeveloped their architecture using modern API approaches to enable the UX to flex for specifics roles, users and customers, and to be far easier to evolve and adapt going forward. Additionally there are enhancements and additions, such as roles and goals, for improving customer interactions and enable the utility of reporting on relevant resulting data sets.
One of the key findings of QAD multiple years of research on user experience for Project Channel Islands is that users are most productive using their preferred user experience. Some who have been using the NETUI or even green screen versions are incredibly productive and cannot readily adjust to a more attractive, modern HTML5 user experience. Therefore, QAD offers the option for users to switch back and forth to their preferred UX, as well as to easily modify the HTML5 experience. The idea is to give customers and users the freedom to choose the most productive experience.
An effective enterprise system that is intuitive and simple, yet powerful enough to yield the data most impactful on the operations from the UX perspective and not the developer perspective, is what was both contemplated and being offered –not as the solution, but enabling the UX to create their own solutions for virtually all basic functions of any specific enterprise engaged in manufacturing –from automotive to medical device to support activities in warehousing and distribution.
The business process improvements include features that ensure that information is accurate, yet not repetitively intrusive or overburdening on verification steps. Users can verify their work with or without the electronic signature feature. The customer profile feature is such that patterns of use and behavior are discernable quickly, and the system can adjust the profile to fit their immediate needs. In addition, the use of “next click” processing makes sense for enhancing the system response to change.
INTEGRATION WITH THE CLOUD
Combining the UX with the QAD Cloud and analytics, the product can enable that discovery of applied new technology without being overwhelmed with a complete quantitative scale up, but rather an enhancement of the more qualitative aspect of inventory, production, manufacturing and distribution control. Those changes can be accessed across all platforms through the embedded analytics, rendering multiple choices without any overburdening by technology, to allow easy integration with emerging technologies. The modern API approach also makes it far easier to add new UIs as they become popular, and even offers “No UI” which is useful for IoT and robotic use cases.
The inclusion of BPM (Business Process Management) features distinct workflows both previously established through best practices, but can also accommodate specific bespoke and individualized processes that are unique to the customer experience. Those best practices are incorporated as an integral part of the system, including regulatory considerations (e.g., FDA regulations for medical devices, pharmaceuticals) and other established standards and trends.
The Human need for exploration and improvement can serve as the vehicle by which the previous generation can improve on the next iteration. In the case of QAD, this transformation is user oriented, cloud enabled and offers analytics that are performance enhanced across multiple platforms.
With the Project Channel Island experience, QAD customers have the opportunity discover the Channel Islands – and in the tradition of the first humans’ to inhabit this continent, be the next explorer.
We look forward to seeing how far the QAD’s Experience has evolved in the forthcoming Explore 2016 at Chicago this May.
The opinions and analysis expressed in this research reflect the judgment of Axendia at the time of publication and are subject to change without notice. Information contained in this document is current as of publication date. Information cited is not warranted by Axendia but has been obtained through a valid research methodology. This document is not intended to endorse any company or product and should not be attributed as such.