Is Your SAP Project Lost In Translation?
6 Rules for Localizing Multi-Language Projects

  • by Davin Wilfrid, Former Contributing Editor, SAP Experts
  • January 5, 2010
Management
Securing user adoption in a multi-language global project requires careful planning beyond simply activating the language features of SAP. In this article, Camilo Muñoz of Translation Source identifies six rules for ensuring your user community buys in from the beginning.

Poor user adoption can ruin even the most technically sound SAP projects, a fact that has haunted project managers from the earliest days of the ERP system. Proper training and user buy-in are critical for ensuring the success of any SAP project.

Securing user adoption is even more challenging in a global project involving multiple sites with different languages and cultures. While SAP applications support dozens of the world’s most widely-used languages, successful project managers recognize the limitations of relying too heavily on that support.

“The chances that your users are going to start to use software just because it’s in their language are minimal without the proper training,” says Camilo Muñoz, founder and managing director of Translation Source. “The last mile is transferring the knowledge of how and why to use it. That’s not being accomplished at many companies.”

While adding a localization plan into an already complicated project blueprint may seem like a daunting exercise, Muñoz cites several reasons why companies should consider it. For one thing, it helps users learn their new or updated system more quickly. Also, the benefits last far longer than the early post-go-live period, says Muñoz.

“After you have the training in a given language, users are less likely to ask for support and more likely to do things right,” he says. “That is critical, because in a lot of cultures, things are not like in the US where you raise your hand if you don’t understand something. If you go to Asia or Latin America, these are sometimes cultural issues that prevent you from saying anything.”

Note
Localization is different from simple language translation. Localization, Muñoz says, includes all processes around adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and appropriate “look-and-feel.”

When done properly, localization should add anywhere from ½% to 1% to the total project cost. The ongoing benefits, however, will pay for themselves, says Muñoz.

Davin Wilfrid

Davin Wilfrid was a writer and editor for SAPinsider and SAP Experts. He contributed case studies and research projects aimed at helping the SAP ecosystem get the most out of their existing technology investments.

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