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Language Support in Enterprise Software


August 1, 2013

Doug Hadden, VP Products

There was a press release recently from one of the major Enterprise Software vendors touting support for Portuguese and a few other languages. There seems to be no end in the useless press release extravaganza in this market. That was my thought at the time because supporting different languages in modern software isn’t that difficult. Then I remembered a story one of my colleagues told me of a site visit in an African country. The representative of that very same software company told government officials that all users will have to learn English. It wasn’t viable to translate the software to the unique language spoken by the majority of citizens.

And, we wonder why so many government financial management implementations struggle in Africa.

Human capacity inhibits success for any Government Resource Planning (GRP) system in developing countries. Imposing documentation, help and labels in English adds a layer of unnecessary complexity. As does terminology. (Even in Commonwealth countries, we hear “commitment”, “software commitment”, “pre-encumbrance” used for requisitions and “commitment”, “hard commitment”, “obligation” and “encumbrance” used for the purchase order phase. And, on-line help is not very useful if the government procedures aren’t shown. The screens used by the government can be quite different from those illustrated in vendor help.

We realized the language opportunity in the development of Version 7 of the FreeBalance Accountability Suite. So, V7 is multi-lingual with double-byte support. It supports left-to-right and right-to-left languages. All FreeBalance system information (labels, help, messages, errors) are placed in a spreadsheet for translation. We import the translation and the software operates in Portuguese, Dari, Teten, Mongolian etc. The help system is a content management system so that custom help can be developed. Attachments are also supported.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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