When helping our larger, more complex clients through their ERP evaluation processes, they often feel like SAP or Oracle are the only viable options. However, a multitude of other options exist — they’re just flying under the radar. Today, I’m going to discuss my review of QAD, one of those ERP vendors that, despite having little name recognition, knows how to fight above its class in the ERP world.
Fifteen years ago, QAD was an underdog. The company was new to the market and many industry insiders predicted that the product would only be competitive with tier 2 or tier 3 solutions. However, as time went on, QAD started to land larger manufacturing clients, and over the years, they kept those high-profile accounts. Eventually, they were duking it out with Oracle, SAP, and other top-of-the-line ERP vendors.
QAD’s formula for success was to provide a cloud-based ERP system that targeted a large niche. And they found their ideal client in the manufacturing industry. QAD was built for manufacturing. It works best for companies that manufacture medical devices, automobiles, industrial equipment, and more. By providing a little bit of flexibility on top of a robust, cloud-based platform, QAD didn’t have to be everything to everyone. Instead, they found their audience and created a cult-like following — and their strategy has paid off over the years.
One of QAD’s biggest strengths is cloud maturity. QAD has been in the cloud space for a long time — much longer than SAP. QAD has been fully cloud-supported since 2008. Because SAP, and to a lesser degree Oracle, are playing catch-up with their on-prem applications, QAD was able to get a leg up, as they have already been in the cloud for over a decade. They’re also not juggling support for multiple different products like SAP is with S/4HANA, ECC, and R3. Even Oracle customers are still out there using EBS and in some cases PeopleSoft and Siebel. QAD is able to focus on its single ERP option, and because of this, it is strong and more mature than companies still messing around with legacy products.
The biggest advantage that QAD has over SAP S/4HANA is flexibility. QAD’s platform is easier to configure and customize. If you need to customize your ERP setup, it can be very difficult to implement and maintain that adjustment in S/4HANA.
Now the thing that makes QAD unique is they've built a layer on top of their core software that allows you to customize the software without really changing the source code. This means that the core of the software always stays intact, making it easy to personalize the ERP to fit your needs. It also opens up an ecosystem of developers and people that can create applications, mobile apps, and things that tie back into the core QAD software.
In terms of cost, I find that QAD is generally less expensive than SAP — both on the software side and on the implementation side. Part of that is because the resources required to implement QAD aren't quite as specialized. Additionally, licensing the software itself can be less expensive too, when compared to SAP. So, if cost is a big consideration and you're looking for a more budget-friendly option to SAP, QAD can be a good choice.
As an ERP system, QAD has many strengths, but just like any product out there, it has its weaknesses, too. The first is brand awareness. Many executive boards just don't have faith in the viability or knowledge of QAD when stacked up against SAP or Oracle. QAD doesn’t have the marketing budget. They made the choice to not get their name out there. They don't invest in golf tournaments. And they just don't have as many customers using their products like SAP or Oracle.
Here are a few more reasons why QAD may not be the right fit for you:
Preferring a big-name ERP doesn’t sound like a good reason to choose one vendor over another, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Larger, well-known software companies come with more resources because more people use the platform. A large consumer base means that there are more resources to help troubleshoot problems. You’re also more likely to get an answer to a frequently asked question. QAD doesn’t have as robust of an ecosystem. They don’t have as many system integrators, independent solo consultants, etc. So, if you're a big company and your project is going to need a lot of resources, it’s important to know what resources will be available to you and that you will have access to the right amount to support your project.
The second thing that might disqualify QAD from your search would be if you are a large global organization that wants to take a centralized approach to ERP implementation. If customization is not high on your priority list, SAP will fit your model better than QAD can. If you value that rigidity and you're trying to enforce standardization with a cohesive digital experience across your organization, QAD may not be your best fit.
If your organization has a lot of different holdings or subsidiaries, you may want to consider SAP S/4HANA or maybe even Oracle ERP cloud over QAD. That’s because SAP and Oracle have more broad capabilities that can function across industries whereas QAD is pretty focused on industrial manufacturing, automotive, medical devices, etc. So, if you are a diversified global company that really needs a broad subset of capabilities that may not be the best fit for a QAD.
There are many factors to consider when selecting the right ERP software for your business. Hopefully, this blog gives you some new perspectives to consider as you embark or continue on your journey. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.
If you’d like to know how QAD compares to other systems out there, I’m entirely agnostic, unbiased, and don’t care what system wins out in your evaluation process, and neither does my team. I’m happy to bounce around ideas and be a sounding board for you as you go through the process, please feel free to reach out to me directly.