Infor, the world’s third largest ERP vendor announced last week that it is to take an unusual approach to localization of its ERP offerings by ‘externalising common’ components and hosting them in the Cloud. Soma SomaSundaram (Soma), Infor’s EVP of Research & Development spoke to Gary Simon, FSN’s managing editor at ‘Infor On the Road’ in London last week.
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Multinational businesses face significant challenges when rolling out standard applications to foreign countries. In many cases the applications need to be localized not only for local language, but also for sales and employment taxes as well as local statutory reporting.
“Localization is not handled very well by most vendors. Some of the larger countries are well catered for but often the applications are rolled out to other geographies where there is no relevant localization in the package. So businesses have to implement many instances of the application and engage local suppliers to do the customisation of the application and any required changes to functionality and reporting,” said Soma.
Managing multiple instances of the applications becomes a significant support burden and can make it difficult to implement upgrades and new software additions.
In an effort to simplify the situation for its customers Infor started to examine what elements of the standard applications could be ‘externalised’, i.e. hosted and maintained in the Cloud, leaving a ‘vanilla’ instance of the ERP application in every site.
Infor’s solution was to take standard requirements such as EDI, payments and tax out of the application and to maintain these on behalf of customers who would simply download the relevant updates to their local ERP instance.
This kind of solution is not unique but it is certainly burdensome for the vendor, in this case Infor, especially when there are frequent changes in accounting regulation and compliance. Soma explained that the localizations will in fact be maintained by selected local partners selected by Infor. So instead of working for numerous local businesses directly, the local partners will maintain a central resource made available to all of Infor’s customers in a region. A neat solution to a perennial problem.