Today’s blog post marks the end of our series offering a peek into the daily lives of IQMS’ directors. From human resources to testing and training to development, meet the key department leaders who are molding our company’s future and continually advancing the EnterpriseIQ ERP and MES software.
Meet Randy Flamm, IQMS’ President and Co-Founder.
IQMS just recently placed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing, private companies in America for the third year in a row. But IQMS has been a company since 1989. Why has acknowledgment of the company’s success taken this long?
I commonly ask myself, “What would be the very best software system in the world for a manufacturing company?” The answer I always come up is: A system that uses the same database across every single business aspect and has the very same look, feel and system logic, so once you learn one module, that knowledge rolls over easily to any other module. The best system removes the time honored problem of multiple vendors who point fingers at each other and add a whole other layer of complexity because you are trying to make dissimilar systems talk.
At IQMS, from the early 90s on, it’s always been our philosophy to work toward creating that system. It basically took this long to make the product as good as it is. Historically, I would say up until around 2009, we were pretty much a development company. We spent all of our time and energy developing. Once the system started to gain traction, we were able to increase the sales force and things like that to allow for placement on the Inc. list.
It seems to me that our competitors don’t see the forest through the trees. I really believe that they don’t take the long view. Rather than reinvest in extended development of their software, they tend to adopt a shortened view of hooking up to independent, outside systems. But what do you have when you keep doing that? You have a bunch of dissimilar systems, cobbled together, into a failure-prone enterprise offering. Even large companies like Microsoft and SAP dabble in areas like MES, but they really don’t go down to the level of the machine that we do. Their concept of getting the solution they need is to go out and buy another company that has it. But they still don’t interface as tightly as a single database system. They are still separate systems.
Since 1997, we have developed all of EnterpriseIQ’s business rules as well as processes on the Oracle platform. We have not had to change platforms since then. That’s why we have so much stuff. It seems that our competitors change platforms all the time because of limitations like scalability. We were lucky to have chosen the most powerful and scalable database system in the world back in 1997 so we could listen to our customers and continue to develop over the years.
So is that why IQMS maintains such a large footprint, from CRM to a full blown quality system to document control to MES, not to mention a proprietary line of PLCs and even Android-based touch screen shop floor devices you design and build yourselves?
Basically, I have figured out that it might seem harder, but in the long run it is easier to develop everything in house, to develop it yourself. Because then you have complete control over it and you have complete control over the customer experience. After all, what the customer thinks is very, very important to us. Ongoing improvement and maintenance of a comprehensive system is never easy but it’s worth the effort because when you are working toward ongoing improvement, the product continuously improves. It seems like our competitors sometimes stall on product development. A lot of that goes to short term thinking and short term goals, as opposed to the long term viewpoint that we take.
IQMS is a privately held company that has been profitable every year since the start. What is one factor that you attribute to IQMS' success?
We have taken the long term view on everything. We work very hard on the product all the time. And the long term view has worked. It’s enough to build a brand new second building without taking out a loan and to be able to hire all these people. The long view allows for continuous improvement for the product and continuous improvement for the employees and for everybody involved, including myself. That’s the bottom line. It’s very rewarding.
With the ever changing ERP landscape, what does the future hold, Randy? What is your plan?
What does the future hold? At IQMS, you could call our development reactionary. This could be used in a negative context, but sometimes reactionary is a good thing, like when you are reacting to your customers’ requirements. And the customer requirements are always changing. We have learned that when you are talking with one of your large customers, a company that is doing half a billion dollars a year or so, you are listening to them because they are the experts. They know what they need and they know what’s coming up and things are always changing. I don’t know what the future’s going to bring, I just know we are going to develop to it. Because after all, the product is never finished. That has always been our philosophy: If the product is finished, it’s finished.
Whatever the future is going to be, we know we are going to be there.