China Localization Requirements
Implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in a global environment can be fragmented due to the internal enterprise culture, which is representative of societal culture. In China, this is especially true due to the nationalistic culture of business. The way ERP systems are perceived, treated, and integrated within the business plays a critical role in the success or failure of the implementation. When a Western developed ERP system is implemented in a country where the culture differs greatly from that of the developer, implementation may require localization in order to be successful. In doing so, strategic benefits of ERP systems may be diminished.
Implementing Oracle or SAP in China can be a very consuming project in terms of time, money and resources. HAND has been serving the Chinese market for 23 years, successfully helping hundreds of organizations implement their IT solution. Regardless of whether you perform the implementation internally or outsource it, our experience shows that there are 6 critical factors to consider in order to ensure success:
1) Effective Management
Effective Management means having a team of knowledgeable executives who not only have technical management skills, but also are fully aware of the drastic cultural differences between the US and Chinese workplaces. For example, the concept of saving face, or Mianzi（面子）, is extremely important. Face has to do with the image or credibility of the person you are doing business with and in China practices, negotiations must be done in a way to ensure that the other party saves face, or credibility, even if negotiations do not end successfully.
2) Centralized System
Globalization makes it possible and necessary for companies to adopt a single, centralized system for all business transactions, and each ERP rollout in China project generally incorporates some local compliance requirements, a group license contract, and a global team to support the system. Our solution is a centralized system that includes a specific implementation method that manages the project scope and complexity, adjusts resources to a realistic project schedule, utilizes qualified staffing, and has a clear understanding of China’s statutory requirements.
3) Clear Personnel and Project Schedule
A clearly defined and realistic project schedule is essential for making sure the project runs smoothly. This means having a bilingual project core team with skills and experience in both business processes and your ERP applications. It also includes distinctly defined roles and responsibilities, and incremental resources for testing and production cutover.
4) Effective Knowledge Transfer and Education
Providing ample end-user education and on the job training is another area which organizations shouldn’t overlook. Ensuring that end-users have the skills they need is a critical aspect in a Chinese rollout. This can be done by having on-site staff that is able to provide support throughout project duration, an approach that is applicable for both large and phased implementation projects. A key issue is having the language of the training material match the system’s operating language to avoid confusion.
5) Integration with the Global Environment
Any global implementation requires consistent business practices and the ability to seamlessly integrate the local and global environments. If there are no internal resources at hand with sufficient localization knowledge, considering a local management team may be a sound decision to ensure the success of the implementation.
6) Bridging the Communication Gap
Communication gaps exist as a result of the language barrier and physical distance. Experienced consultants who have strong bilingual skills could play a key role to facilitate the communication between English speaking US team and Mandarin speaking local users working in different locations. Reducing the gap not only involves interpreting one language into another; it requires translating and discussing the ERP solutions with local users, helping them to better describe their localization requirements using ERP terminology.