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Understanding the importance of localization - Part 1: Relationship management

Relationship management and localization

Business is ultimately about people. The success or failure of a company is dictated by many factors, but the people that drive that organization and the relationships it has with vendors and partners are among the most influential factors in its health. Relationships cannot fall by the wayside when developing localization strategies, and the increasingly global nature of modern businesses creates an operational climate in which many companies need to develop methods to localize relationship management while maintaining global operations.

ERP technology can unlock your organization's full potential in the relationship management sphere through a foundation of process excellence. Business processes underpin every aspect of the workday, and poor procedural strategies can come between employees and the people they interact with to get the job done. An effective localization strategy will give organizations the control they need to standardize key processes at a global scale while providing local offices with the ability to easily customize operations to meet their relationship management needs.

In the end, it doesn't matter how large or geographically distributed a business is, if individual offices cannot manage relationships within their locality, they will be left struggling to maintain smooth operations.

Balancing global and local processes

Imagine you are a manufacturer with multiple locations spread throughout Europe. You will need corporate guidelines for quality control and similar matters that will apply to each entity in your organization. In all likelihood, there will be some processes that define how you want to function as a business, and these will need to be standardized across all locations. In practice, an employee in Berlin should be able to collaborate with a co-worker in Barcelona without any trouble - both individuals have a common understanding of organizational expectations and procedures.

While maintaining this big-picture congruency throughout your global organization is key, that same manufacturer will also need to free its local offices to operate independently. This is especially true in terms of relationship management. Looking back at those hypothetical offices in Berlin and Barcelona, each of those branches will need to interact with local materials suppliers, IT service providers and other partner organizations to support their operations. They can't have overly strict, standardized global processes coming between them and flexible interactions with the vendors in their regions.

The need to think local for relationship management while still maintaining a process connection to the global organization is fairly straightforward. Actually applying this logic to your operations isn't so simple. Sophisticated ERP solutions empower you to balance your global and local requirements to maintain strong relationships both within your organization and with external vendors. Here's how:

Using ERP to support relationship management

Maintaining strong relationships can drive profitability and empower your employees to be at their best everyday. abas ERP gives you the process framework to make this possible in a few key ways:

Clearly segregating processes - Managing internal and external relationships within the organization hinges on clearly dividing local processes and procedures from broad, organizational ones. This divide needs to be firm but flexible - you want workers to always understand how the global standards for your business intersect with local requirements, but also be able to freely interact with stakeholders on both ends of the spectrum. An ERP system can create this kind of barrier from an organizational process mapping standpoint, but allow users to interact with workflows in a simple, streamlined way, giving them the ability to switch between global and local mindsets with ease.

Streamlining vendor management - The abas ERP platform empowers companies to create highly customized process workflows and then standardize them based on their specific needs. This is particularly vital when it comes to vendor management, as the ERP solutions enable you to establish global best practices while giving location managers freedom to customize those processes based on their specific vendor relationships. From there, automation and collaboration tools make it easier to disseminate these processes across your local workforce and ensure all employees are put in the best position for success.

Establishing a local presence - To an outsider, a branch of a global business shouldn't look all that different than a local organization. Everything from partner contracts and invoices to marketing materials and emails needs to look and feel like something a local organization will come out with. These small details can be automatically localized within your ERP platform to ensure your various branches are always getting them right. For example, something as simple, but critical, as allowing space for the right number of digits for different types of currency represented on invoices can prove key when ensuring that materials represent the correct location.

"Even if you set up an organization globally, you can only get traction with customers and vendors on a local level," said Marko Becker, Vice President of Operations for abas USA. "The local network is still the primary operational segment, even if the contractual environment is defined globally. You need an ERP system that has the finesse to support the local context. In day-to-day business, it's always people interacting with each other. It doesn't matter what the company is, if a worker has a good connection with his or her counterpart in another organization, then he or she is successful. The individual needs to be able to manage contact requirements, complaints and other components of the relationship on a local level."

Localizing each branch of your global business boils down to helping employees to manage relationships in their immediate network. ERP software gives you the process frameworks you need to empower those workers to achieve that end.

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