ERP localization is an important indicator of the maturity of any business application, and of ERP applications specifically.Most efforts going into ERP developments focus on supporting generic functionality, required by as many potential customers as possible. The reality is that if you plan to offer your ERP solution globally, functionality alone is not enough. Support for localization is a necessary (yet not sufficient) condition to widespread adoption of an ERP system.
I got a chance to talk with Richard Morley, open source ERP vendor Openbravo accounting and localization manager. We had an interesting conversation and I learned quite a lot on the subject. Richard has been working in ERP development and consulting for about 11 years. He joined Openbravo late last year.
What is localization
Defining the term localization is not as simple as it might seem. In general, any aspect of an ERP application, whether functionality, data or user interface, that has a different meaning and different usage patterns in diffident countries, is a candidate to be part of a localization. Richard uses a broad definition: “..it is a multitude of factors, it’s not just functionality, it also has to do with language, culture, support, the many factors that drive to claim to have an effective localization. We drive to provide assurance to Openbravo users that this is what they are getting”.
Localization in Openbravo
Openbravo localization is a decentralized project according to Richard, where each local community develops their own localizations, as oppose to most proprietary ERP vendors, where localization is a centralized projects, developed by the vendor itself. Openbravo “focuses on language support and the functional core of Openbravo ,and the capability of the core to go to any particular country”. Richard emphasizes a key guideline in Openrbavo’s localization efforts: Openbravo itself should provide the underlying functionality and tools to make the adjustments required for any particular locale as simple as possible: “view Openbravo as a platform, we believe it is viable in most countries with varying degree of intervention.. we try to simplify the process of fine tuning the application for any particular market of even vertical”.
Openbravo localization covers :”.. the ability to capture the transactional data with sufficient granularity for reporting needs, number handling, rounding rules, tax logic and tax rule including tax on tax and withholding tax, currency management, chart of accounts, and multi cultural aspects – not only language, but also the ability of the UI to present data in away that is culturally excepted: display of number, address format, RTL , date etc.”
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