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Quality Creates...Perspective

5 Things to Consider When Localizing Your Software Solution

Tim Lozier
by Tim Lozier on Thu, Nov 04, 2010

localization 5steps

Enterprises today are often not isolated to once corner of the globe—they span continents. With organizations sharing information across the globe, it is more crucial than ever to ensure harmonized communication within these global networks. Luckily, localization technology makes it possible to break down the language barrier, ensure efficient communication, and create streamlined business processes regardless of whether your enterprise ranges from the US to Timbuktu.

To ease the burden of localization, we’re going to take a look at the 5 things that must be considered when localizing your software solution:

1) The First Step to Localization is Internationalization: Before the system can be localized, you must “prime” it first. It must be internationalized. Internationalization is the process of creating software that can be easily adapted to other countries and is essentially the process of preparing software for localization once implemented (your primer).

Internationalization removes all cultural assumptions from the software, which prepares it for potential use in any language. This makes for easy adaptation without the need for extensive configuration or customization. This allows for seamless adaptation of localized nomenclature, formats, glossaries, and other features that vary from country to country. Essentially, for a truly global solution, localization and internationalization must go hand in hand.

2) A Localized Glossary of Terms is Essential: For efficient localization, it’s important that different languages are not stacked upon each other in a master glossary but are instead offered in separate glossaries. This enhances ease-of-use tenfold. It allows each locale access to its own glossary, which reduces the performance strain on a master glossary that contains every language.

3) Cultural Differences Must be Translated to the Minutest Detail: Localization must not just translate the language, but translate cultural differences as well. This includes all cultural aspects including calendar holidays, currency, address formats, and even down to colors (because a color that is acceptable in one culture may have negative connotations in another).

4) Provide a Centralized Environment: Another must for truly effective localization, is to implement a solution that mitigates the need for duplicate configurations to be made for each language. A localization solution that provides a centralized environment for all localized languages allows changes that are made in one location to be made across the enterprise. This aspect greatly enhances convenience for the end user and increases functionality across the enterprise.

5) Provide Enhanced Reporting: Localization must provide an extremely detailed level of translation—for example, it is important to translate keywords in forms as well as their resulting intelligence, such as reports and charts. Localization to this level of detail ensures that a keyword entered in one language has the same meaning as that keyword entered in another language. This ability enhances the resulting report view, because there will not be duplicate categories for each reportable event entered within the global enterprise.

Now, where does the Quality Management or EHS system fit in? Localization technology can be used in a multitude of systems. But with respect to the QMS/EHS system, the ability to have a localized environment is of paramount importance—especially when product quality, process quality, and regulatory compliance are factored in. For example, the ability to accurately understand the instructions and field labels on a complaint form can have tremendous implication on a product or corrective action. If there is an error due to translation problems, it can have an effect on overall product quality. Similarly, being able to collaborate with suppliers in their native language has tremendous value because it will greatly reduce miscommunication—and proper communication with suppliers is key to maintaining the relationship between supplier and stakeholder and maintaining product quality and integrity.

Ultimately, we know that quality relies on collaboration, on following procedures, and on proper data entry. Organizations can mitigate the risk of errors by translating all aspects of their QMS/EHS by using a localized environment.

Effectively localizing your software solution while taking the above points into consideration will result in a system that has been seamlessly adapted to the highest degree, and consequently, a user-friendly system regardless of where the end user is located. This unites the enterprise and enhances communication across the globe, and you can rest assured knowing that nothing has been “lost in translation”—even if you are in Timbuktu.


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