by Oliver Müller
If you procure an SAP system and plan to use it globally, you should consider its multilingualism at an early stage. SAP currently provides systems in some 40 languages. Though an impressive number, this does not address the issue of multilingualism on its own. Yes, you can roll out a more or less “ready to use” standard system worldwide in multiple languages – but “standard” is seldom sufficient. As soon as you add in-house developments, enhancements and company- or country-specific content, you must decide in the languages in which these should be made available. In some cases, the law also prescribes that certain content must be available in the local language; for example, payrolls or financial statements that are based on data from the SAP system. In addition, system users generally work much more efficiently and effectively when the parts relevant to them are fully available in their native language.
In the next step, you define precisely what is to be translated into which languages. During this scoping,you decide which content is to be included in the translation and thus gain an initial overview of the translation volumes, costs and time required. In this process, you gain valuable information for further planning of the translation project. This information has an impact on the next steps and, ultimately, the entire strategy – so scoping is certainly a key step.
You have now decided what is to be translated. Next, you need to consider who is to translate the content and in which environment.
SAP systems generally have their own translation environment – transaction SE63. To put it simply, this environment enables text for translation to be statistically analysed, displayed, translated and saved. The translations are stored in a translation memory and can be reused elsewhere. The translators work “online” in your system. In principle, this is an elegant solution; however, every translator requires access to your system and working in SE63 is somewhat complicated, meaning the translators need to be trained accordingly.
Alternatively, non-SAP tools can be used for translation. For this purpose, the content to be translated is exported out of your SAP system and prepared for processing in an external tool. In this case, the translators work “offline”. As a rule, the tools involved are the CAT (computer-aided translation) systems commonly used in the industry; for example, SDL Trados Studio or memoQ. In this scenario, the translators do not need special training. On the other hand, more effort is required for exporting and importing the content.
In both cases, the translators must be familiar with SAP terminology. This means you should definitely contact a specialist!
The scope of your translation is now clear and you have chosen a translation environment. The next step is to work out a schedule for the translation based on the size of the job and to plan resources accordingly so that the actual translation can begin. Here, active communication between your IT and specialist departments, project management and the translators is essential; for example, to ensure that you are informed about the progress of the project and that translators have a contact person for any questions.
This also improves the quality and prevents inconsistencies and expensive reworking. Nonetheless, you should also plan quality assurance measures. These include linguistic tests to assess translation quality as well as technical functional tests (especially if the translation was completed offline).
As soon as you have translated your system “once through” in this manner, you need a follow-up process to regulate the translation of new or updated content in your system. This ensures that all important content is always available promptly in all the relevant languages.
As you can see, translating the content of an SAP system is a complex matter. This is why SAP launched a partner program for providers of Language Consultancy Services and Translation Services several years ago. Only companies with proven SAP expertise can participate in this program. exact! has been a Translation Services Partner from the very beginning and is thus perfectly equipped to support you with your SAP translation projects from start to finish. We would be happy to help you with our expertise in every project phase: from the analysis of the translation requirement to scoping, preparation of the translation environment, project management, the translation itself and quality assurance right the way through to processing updates.
You can find further information on our services in the area of SAP translation here.
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