SAP translation: 6 tips to obtain over $1 million worth of user adoption with pennies on the dollar

October 8, 2012

The success of an SAP translation initiative is typically measured in terms of the program’s user adoption. Budget demands however, require companies to find ways to be more efficient with fewer resources. To help multiply your user adoption with pennies on the dollar, we look to an interview with Translation Source founder and director Camilo Muñoz in an interview with ERP Expert.

Tip #1:  Localize your SAP translation
“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. The last mile is transferring the knowledge of how and why to use it. That’s not being accomplished at many companies. Localization helps users learn their new or updated system more quickly and the benefits last far longer than the early post-go-live period. When done properly, localization should add anywhere from ½% to 1% to the total project cost. The great thing is that it is a one-time expense. Ongoing maintenance and updates are really not a factor unless you go for a big roll out later on.”

Tip # 2: Set Achievable Goals
The objectives of your localization plan should be adapted to the specific needs of your users. The plan should include budget objectives as well as the scope of the project, time line, and technology. “Defining your technological objectives can be tricky,” Muñoz says. “Several popular software training tools are in the process of adding support for multilingual projects, yet those tools are still evolving and are not a substitute for implementing a full localization plan.”

Tip # 3: Integrate
The localization team for your SAP translation will be quite large and must include team leaders, translators, editors, desktop publishers and a reviewer to verify the work. You will need a different team for each country or language. Integrating the localization strategy with your SAP translation initiative is a big job for the project manager. According to Muñoz however, “The good news is that if you do it properly, it can be stream-lined and self-contained.” He recommends that the project manager interact only with one or two leaders from each off-site team who should report back on a weekly basis. “If you have enough people who understand the issues, you can set it up in such a way that the issues are handled,” Muñoz adds.

Tip #4: Manage Translation Resources
Managing the translation budget may be the biggest challenge the project manager has to face on a large multilingual project. “Most translation companies are paid per word, with repeat phrases billed at 40% to 50% of the original translation cost. The non-translation localization costs are comparatively minor, consisting mainly of technology integration and training costs,” says Muñoz. Both human and technological resources must be selected and managed carefully for success. The most common technological tools used in SAP translation are translation memories, bilingual glossaries, and style guides. “For things that are very repetitive, like SAP translations, these tools are critical. You can easily cut your localization budget in half by using them.” says Muñoz.

Tip #5: Embrace Diversity
“It’s easy to be blindsided by cultural dimensions,” Muñoz says. “However, once you familiarize yourself with them they become self-evident. People in Japan don’t think the same as people in America. Having a structured approach to dealing with cultures is a good way to pinpoint potential challenges.” The Hofstede Principles provide a structured explanation of differences among cultures which can be used to help ensure higher adoption rates for your SAP translation.

Tip #6: Make the Most of your SAP translation
“Whether it’s by training or developing mentors, you have to push that content and those materials out to end users. If you go through all this effort and then just leave it there, it’s not going to work,” says Muñoz. “The best part of localizing a SAP initiative is that much of the localization and translation work can be reused in other parts of the business, even outside of IT. The content, style guide, bilingual glossary, and translation memory that were built for the SAP project can easily be used to standardize language and practices along entire lines of business. It’s not only going to save you money- it’s also going to give you one linguistic identity and ensure consistency,” says Muñoz.

The full interview with Camilo Muñoz was published in ERP Expert Vol.3 Update 1and can be found on the SAP Experts website:

If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.

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