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How to start your own ERP and IT Consulting Business?

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The first thing you need to have is a degree / diploma in IT or Computer Engineering. Both are essentially targeting the same subject but are design to develop different skills. The differences are explained very well in this article : difference between computer engineering and computer science.

This article is for computer science engineers, though if a student of computer engineering wishes to, he or she can indeed start their own ERP and IT Consulting.

So, what is ERP and IT Consulting?

Let us start from an individual point of view. Every individual operates from a place, right? It can be New York, or New Delhi or New Orleans.

So, any advice or suggestion or strategy has to be applicable with the surrounding and accessibility in consideration. However, with cloud computing opportunities have increased.

An independent ERP & IT consultant can begin by addressing the market around him and also offer solutions to his clients leveraging cloud computing.

ERP consulting is the businesses of advising a customer on how to choose an ERP software, how to use it optimally, and how mix and match custom built software and off the shelf software.

Why is it a smart thing to do to mix ERP consulting and IT consulting?

Simply because, cost per customer reduces drastically and it allows one to have a small number of customers and earn profits.

With a basic diploma or better still, a computer science degree, you can start off.

The service, custom built software is where one can earn big money and in this article I give some tips on how to build your business.

If you do not have a degree or diploma get a partner on board, who has one.

The objective is to have a profile, which your customers can trust.

The next thing is understand the uniqueness of each city and its surrounding industrial infrastructure and importantly its uniqueness.

Let us take Bengaluru, in the state of Karnataka, India. Bengaluru, in 1970’s was a garden city with few IT companies. However, it was home to many public sector companies 100’s of employees (with nasty unions!) in the areas of Electronics, Aerospace, and Heavy engineering equipment.

Into this cool and favoured by Englishmen came Texas instruments and set up shop with a then used internet connection. Reasons? One, cool environment and number of well trained engineers.

Seeing the taxes they were paying, the Govt. was aware that companies such as TI were rich, and could be good source of employment and of course, accelerate economic development.

At this time started the IT revolution and companies such as Patni, Infosys, and Wipro triggered the body shopping business bringing in large scale employment (H1B!) and real estate boom and economic development.

At the same time other businesses in the value chain of economic development boomed bringing in huge opportunities for independent ERP and IT consultants.

So, why this narrative, even if it is a short one?

Simple, you as a software and ERP consultant should know what are core strengths of a city are. When you know public sectors are present in aerospace, you will also know that aerospace ancillaries must be present. If you research a bit more you will see that Bengaluru has about 500 – 600 aero component manufacturing firms and about 50 – 70 aero space businesses.

So, there you have a target market, with a clear understanding of how it all began. This is a one time study, and it also helps you to understand how things are moving. This is the first exercise you will have to do.

Now, that you know a bit of industrial history of your city, the next step is to enrol yourselves in the chamber of commerce and institution of engineers. These institutions give you a profile and networking opportunities. Remember, networking is your foundation for business opportunities.

Lets now get to the job on hand.

Place of operation. Select a place where you can stay for some time and is accessible to your clients and employees. In today’s high traffic world, it is very important that your employees can reach your office quickly and without much hassle. Plan in such a way that you will be able to occupy the place for at least 3-5 years if not more.

The next thing on the list is ensuring that you have the following skills:

ERP domain knowledge. This one is obvious. This covers many aspects of a factory management or establishment management. Finance, stock, manufacturing, crm and scm are all the modules in ERP and knowledge of these modules answering questions such as what are the events in each of the modules? what are the data entry screens? what are the schema required? what is the data design? what are general reports? are essential.

Along with this knowledge, the next big knowledge and skills required are in the area of application software development. The core application knowledge you should know about is how to develop a database application which can be hosted on the web or on the cloud. Today, there are many choices for developing applications but I strongly suggest using tested and proven tools. Also, the tool set has to have sophisticated data handling capabilities. My choice is asp core. It is free.

How do you optimise your profits?

Understand your customer’s requirements. Build applications for them. Offer continuous upgrades. There is no software business without continuous upgrades. Host your applications on the web. I prefer Gandi.net. (Has nothing to do the famous political family in India!).

Remember, each company’s requirements are different. You have to appreciate the following to make a successful business:

  • The aspect that each company’s requirement is different is a business opportunity.
  • There will be some aspects of the company which will be similar. This is also a business opportunity as you can offer a base version which is low priced and helps you to make inroads.

New area focus

It is very important that you are knowledgeable and skilled in new areas. Artificial intelligence and block chain are the hot areas.

In my next articles I will come with use cases and demonstrate how to understand and tap a city’s potential for business growth.

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