The Power of the Crowd: Customer-Driven ERP Development

Customer driven ERP developmentAt IQMS, we are proud to support customer-driven design and development of our manufacturing ERP and MES software. The two-way dialogue and relationships we foster with our clients is a cornerstone of our company: Our manufacturers feel comfortable coming to us with their challenges and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with them on solutions. But this doesn’t mean that we only develop based on client suggestions. We have a strategic product road map of where we want our comprehensive ERP and MES solution to travel, with the needs of our customers acting as a compass.

From experience, we have learned that our manufacturers are our best resource for what is actually being used on the shop floor and required by current industry demands! IQMS employs a flexible and versatile programming staff that is trained to develop and implement changes quickly. This rapid development model means that we can easily make adjustments and design tools to help our clients succeed. After all, who knows the industry better than our customers?

In order to not divert resources from customer needs while still maintaining software product management, IQMS has invested considerable efforts into a unique, separate division, the IQMS Automation Group, that is in place to specifically work on our customers’ desires. Award-winning for their advancement of shop floor control, the Automation Group operates on the cutting edge of technology to bring improved accuracy, traceability and transparency to the manufacturing industry.

How IQMS Supports Customer-Driven Development

So how does IQMS receive its software suggestions? Nearly 90 percent of our software enhancements are suggested through the MyIQMS customer portal, where the IQMS user community can submit development requests and follow the changes through development, testing and release. IQMS receives hundreds of suggestions a year this way! If we are concerned that the enhancement may not be of benefit to all, then the user community is encouraged to vote on the change. The collection and addition of new features is part of our customer service model and included in our manufacturers’ annual maintenance fees.

“What if users don’t want the change?” is a common critique of customer-driven development. The key is to allow users complete flexibility in their settings. In EnterpriseIQ, there are multiple ways to do the same thing. Rather than adopting a cookie cutter approach, our users can opt in and out of nearly everything, so if you don’t want a certain function, then you don’t have to turn it on. We don’t remove established functionality (so if you like the way it was before, continue doing it that way), we only add new options and features.

Recently, the concept of customer-driven development has come under scrutiny as being a short-sighted method of business growth. So why is customer-driven development looked down upon? Developing to industry trends alone is indicative of something a (now defunct) analyst company questioned us about several years ago: Why develop based on client feedback and not what the industry is talking about? Our answer was this:

At the time, RFID systems were all the rage and the big buzz word of ERP analysts. But none of our clients needed the RFID technology incorporated into their ERP/MES solution.  So we didn’t spend time and effort on a product that might be used when we could focus on enhancements that would most benefit our clients. Today, our product does have the ability to incorporate RFID tags as part of the warehouse management system (WMS) and asset management modules, but the technology still has yet to live up to all of the early hype it enjoyed at introduction.

While additional software development in areas such as interface improvements and across the board tools is essential, customer driven development is the backbone of a good ERP company. It certainly has not prevented us from moving into new markets and in fact, it is one of the factors that makes IQMS a desirable ERP solution. Rather than developing in a silo, our customers’ voices are heard and they get what they need to succeed, while we end up with a desirable, viable and competitive software solution – it’s a win-win for all involved!

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This article was written by
IQMS
Website: IQMS

For more than 25 years, IQMS has been designing and developing manufacturing ERP software for the repetitive, process and discrete industries. Today, IQMS provides a comprehensive real-time ERP software and MES solution to the automotive, medical, packaging, consumer goods and other manufacturing markets. The extended single-database enterprise software solution, EnterpriseIQ, offers a scalable system designed to grow with the client and complete business functionality, including accounting, quality control, supply chain, shop floor, CRM and eBusiness. With offices across North America, Europe and Asia, IQMS serves manufacturers around the world. For more information, please visit iqms.com.