We've been digging deep into the topic of localization recently, and we've already delved into the issues of managing local relationships within a global organizational context, overcoming language barriers and dealing with different laws in various regions. All of these big-picture issues highlight a common overarching theme when it comes to localizing operations - detail matters. Organizations that fail to pay attention to details when developing strategies at a local branch can quickly run into major problems.
At abas, we often talk about how business is really about people. Empowering your staff and building meaningful relationships with partners and customers drives success. When it comes to interacting with people in a healthy, meaningful way, paying close attention to detail is critical. A few areas where this is especially evident include:
Empowering your staff and building meaningful relationships with partners and customers drives success.
Reaching out to the local community
Imagine you are working in a global organization with a new branch office in Quebec City, Quebec. Much of the population there will be speaking French, but your organization operates primarily in English. You and a local competitor are both bidding for a project, and all of your external communications are in English, whereas your competitor is reaching potential customers in their own language - French. Which company is more likely to win that bid?
Maybe you're already aware of this kind of challenge, and focus on getting translations for important initiatives like bids, but the small detail of having communications available in the local language extends beyond interacting with potential customers and partners. Think about employee recruitment, retention and engagement. It is easy for workers to become disillusioned with their employers, or suspicious of a prospective employer that they do not trust yet. If they are native French speakers and the company they work for refuses to send corporate emails and similar documents in French, even though the office is in Quebec City, they are going to be more likely to disengage.
As we talked about in our piece on overcoming the language barrier, abas ERP comes with built-in translation functions and the ability to automatically translate the interface into a wide range of languages. ERP can deal with language barriers, but that is only a part of the issue here. The other component is showing that you care enough about the people in your local offices, your customers and your partners to adjust your operations to better meet their needs.
Avoiding operational roadblocks
Failing to pay close attention to details can also derail operations as users run into problems handling even simple tasks. A few areas where these issues can be evident include:
- Invoices - You must make sure your invoices and similar documents have enough spaces for the number of digits commonly required to display the type of currency used by your local offices. Having your workers unable to send out invoices because they can't fit the currency onto the form can slow operations to a crawl.
- Dates - Different nations order how they display dates differently. You want your forms and messages to reflect the local market. Having to manually adjust forms each time they are sent is a huge waste, and the problem can be avoided if your ERP system makes it easy to automatically customize forms. abas ERP lets you free-form your dates so each branch can use the method that works best for them.
- Holidays - How are you going to handle time off for holidays? Perhaps more importantly, how are you going to make sure employees across your global organization understand when workers in one local branch won't be available because of a holiday? Failing to prepare for this detail can create scheduling challenges or simply lead to problems as employees depend on one another to complete complex processes.
- Measurements - The metric system is fairly standard, but U.S. companies going global, or organizations opening a U.S. branch, need to plan for the difference in measurement systems.
Small details can lead to significant delays as workers try to keep up with work demands, and preparing for the small things that come up during the work day is key.
Creating value through localization
Taking care of details at the outset of a localization effort can make each branch of your global business feel like a local organization. Marko Becker, vice president of Operations for abas USA, explained that paying attention to detail plays a key role in driving acceptance in local markets.
"'Am I accepted by my business partner to the point that he considers me important enough to talk to me in my local language?' is the kind of question a partner may be thinking," said Becker. "The little things are key. If you lose business, people don't tell you why. It's the small things that make you keep customers. That is what software is for. Software should free you up to deal with the big picture issues. On a day-to-day basis, the software needs to be able to adapt to the local market so you aren't annoyed by small matters and you can handle tasks with a click of a button instead of spending hours in Word reformatting a document."
The issue of paying attention to detail encapsulates the importance of localization in one fell swoop - if you fail to handle the small issues, your local branch won't be able to engage its community and revenue potential will suffer. ERP systems create an operational framework in which the software takes care of the details for you, empowering your workers to focus on the most important tasks in their day.