My First User Group Meeting
This month I had the opportunity to attend my very first QAD User Group meeting. One of my goals for the year is to highlight our customers’ success. The problem is, I don’t get out often enough and I couldn’t wait until Explore to be surrounded by our customers, so I decided to attend the fall Midwest User Group (MWUG) meeting in Grand Rapids, MI.
What Exactly is a QAD User Group?
Chances are when you think of user groups, you think of security groups and user accounts. We’re talking about a different type of user group. A QAD User Group is made up of professionals focused on the continuous improvement of business practices and manufacturing processes through their use of QAD ERP as well as partner solutions. Ultimately they share similar interests, goals, and concerns around manufacturing. QAD User Groups are organized by geographic area, so members can get together, in-person. Belonging to a QAD User Group offers many benefits in addition to access to other QAD users such as newsletters, voting rights in user group elections, job postings, and access to other referral services.
There are three QAD User Groups in North America, but many others globally:
The Anatomy of a User Group Meeting
One of the first things I noticed at the MWUG User Group meeting was how easy it was to engage with new people. The day started off with breakfast and a vendor fair with approximately 30 vendors from consultants to Solution Partners. There were tables by area of interest where you could network with others on topics like quality and upgrades. I met more people in the first couple of hours than I ever imagined. Tip for first time attendees — don’t forget your business cards! Next, the meeting was opened by John Pearson of Visteon Corp, the MWUG President. The rest of the program was organized by track — Manufacturing, Technical, Financial, and Business Process. Of course, I had to check them all out. One of the things I enjoyed most was the diversity in the speakers — a perfect balance of customers, partners, and QAD experts.
There is also a very social aspect to user groups — the reception is always fun. At MWUG you can earn drink tickets by visiting all the booths, and there are raffles for all kinds of vendor giveaways on the final day.
Another thing I learned is that MWUG conference sessions count towards APICS and Institute of Supply Management continuing education credits — another bonus of attending QAD User Groups!
User Group Meeting and/or Explore? Why Not Both?
Before attending a QAD User Group meeting, I thought it might be a lot like a smaller more intimate Explore. There are many similarities but also quite a few differences.
Both events offer a great deal of networking. Sometimes partners offer training following the user group meetings which makes it easy to extend your stay and get even more out of your time away from the office. Training is always available at Explore — last year we offered classes on upgrades, quality control, financials and report writing — stay tuned for next year’s training announcement soon.
One of the biggest differences between a user group and Explore is the number of QAD experts available for the event. Pam and Karl are always front and center at Explore, sharing their vision for the evolution of QAD. The entire leadership team from QAD is onsite as well — from services to support to R&D — attendees can get the ear of our leadership team and find out more about what’s underway. I found the MWUG focused on real day-to-day use cases and how to solve business issues all QAD customers might face. Explore offers this as well, but is more forward looking on what is in development to simplify how customers solve these business issues. Explore is more than double the size of a typical user group with twice as many partners, customers and QAD experts to network with.
Now that I have attended both, I can say they each offer something a little different. If you’re an end-user, you’re definitely going to want to attend a QAD User Group, but to add on to your experience and get more access to the QAD experts and developers, you’ve got to check out Explore!
- Check out upcoming events here, register to attend one!
- Join a user group in your region
- Mark your calendar for Explore in Chicago — May 2-5, 2016
- If you’ve attended a user group meeting, I know others would love to hear about your experience – leave a reply below and share your thoughts on QAD user groups.