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Why ERP and BI systems come in handy for startups?

16 January 2017

IT tools for managing enterprise resources, such as ERP or Business Intelligence systems, are mainly associated with large, well-developed organizations that require modern, integrated information systems for the purposes of effective management. But can these systems also be useful for start-ups?

It seems that the answer is no. Startups are ventures which are burdened with considerable risk, so their origins are normally associated with minimal financial outlay, and investment in areas that are not crucial to the running of the business is usually postponed for later. The creators of startups forget, however, that apart from the idea itself, strategy is most important from the perspective of success. So if a startup is not designed for success from the outset, there is a risk that it will never come to pass.

Advantages of the implementation of IT systems

The implementation of ERP and BI systems gives you the opportunity to organize business processes – both in the case of developed organizations and those in the initial stages of development. In the latter case, an additional advantage is that there is no need for reorganization. An entrepreneur can organize his business enterprise around the selected tool, without losing sight of any relevant elements. It is worth remembering that such systems were created to optimize the operation of enterprises, so they are supported not only by technology, but also by decades of experience in business management.

An important step in the implementation of any system is the pre-implementation analysis stage. The Implementation Partner is able to locate the weak points of the organization, as well as indicate the place where the system will achieve the best results. In the case of a startup, the analysis phase can turn out to be groundbreaking for the entire business, and innovative ideas can lead to equally innovative technological solutions that will ensure effective implementation and success.

It is also a good idea to take the implementation of appropriate IT systems into consideration even at the stage of business plan creation. For potential investors, it is a clear signal that the start-up is built on firm foundations, and not just good intentions. In other words – the project gains credibility in their eyes.

It is also worth taking into account the fact that the ERP system gives the company a comprehensive solution that eliminates the need to implement specialized systems, some of which are required by law, as in the case of accounting software. This means reducing the cost of implementation and licensing. A BI system, on the other hand, allows users to control the effects of the company’s operations and enables a rapid response to the rapidly changing external circumstances.

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Costs of implementation

The implementation of IT systems may involve considerable costs – especially in the case of highly developed organizations with complex business processes. However, in the case of start-ups, costs need not be so large. First of all, the design of system functionality in parallel with the organization of the company itself can help to reduce implementation costs. Secondly, users can easily select tools whose price will be within the realms of budgetary constraints.

What to choose?

ERP systems facilitate modular design, which means that they consist of functionalities serving different areas of the company. These modules are fully integrated (i.e. the data from each module is available in one place), but do not all have to be implemented immediately. At the beginning, you can successfully focus on the key functionalities, while others may be implemented later, or you can also leave them out completely.

ERP solutions available in the cloud are also a good option for start-up owners, as they are very flexible in terms of costs. They allow you to adjust the price to specific requirements, as well as facilitating full scalability in case those needs change.

Even completely free tools can be used for business intelligence, as such tools will handle basic analytical tasks even at the early stages of the company’s operations – they are primarily self-service applications and the like. Another advantage of tools of this type is that they allow for the evaluation of the benefits of data analysis within the company, before the implementation of a more advanced system.

It is also worth remembering that most companies already operate basic tools which make use of analytics – we are talking, of course, of the ubiquitous Excel, as well as SQL Server, which has built-in analytical functions for the fully licensed versions at least. It’s also a good idea to check if the selected ERP system provides such functionality.

Consultation

As we can see, the range of possibilities in terms of the selection of tools is broad and does not require companies to immediately invest large sums in complex tools. Of course, in the case of a brand-new, startup adventure with business, such a choice will not be easy for entrepreneurs. So it’s worth taking up the option of a consultation to help you make the right strategic decisions. Such assistance can mean turning to organizations that support businesses, such as a platform for startups, or to a professional company which deals with the implementation of IT systems. This initial consultation is generally free of charge.

Andrzej Krawiec

ERP Technical Expert

Since 2016 he is an expert from the ERP systems at JCommerce. For many years his work was related with the database architecture and systems that supports managing enterprise resources. He took part in the implementation of ERP systems, operating as an analyst, consultant, designer, programmer and the project manager.