Supplier Management Fundamentals — Do You Really Need Multilingual Capability? (Part 2)

Please click here for Part 1 of this post or download the entire report here: Supplier Information Management (SIM) Technology Fundamentals -- Part Two.

When it comes to multilingual capability in supplier management, the main caveat that companies should factor into account is not actually not the UI (user interface) -- most vendors either have or can quickly come up with any language flavor for fairly modest one-off fees. Rather, the key is to pay attention to how the solution handles localized versions of core data elements (e.g. contact name, company name, addresses) that play into other initiatives such as spend analysis and sourcing -- local language support can inadvertently create difficulties to find and correctly associate content.

For example, your German business unit could create a company named "Südkraft", and in Holland they set up the same firm as "Suedkraft" and in Sweden they would enter "Sydkraft" and your sourcing team in the UK can't find the "Sudkraft" they're looking for. This can create obvious frustrations, potentially leading to vendor record proliferation and fragmented spend reports. It's a huge challenge with European languages and firms -- but can become more of an issue with Asian languages and companies.

Given this backdrop, it is essential to confront how you plan to overcome the vendor naming challenge scenario if you're planning on a global rollout. A little bit of linguistic insensitivity can be a good thing in SIM solutions. On the other hand, local laws and regulations may require local languages. The Spend Matters bottom line: pay close attention to this issue! But don't over-prioritize the need for more "language capability" because someone tells you an application must be localized in 99 languages to be effective. It simply ain't the case in supplier management.

- Jason Busch

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