Going international

Subject: Going international
From: Laurence Burrows <burrows -at- IBM -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 12:00:11 +1100

Tony Caruso wrote:

I would, however, appreciate your feedback on the "shoulds," "should nots."
and "watchouts" as we continue to gather data in this early stage.


My travelling background includes working in SanFrancisco (2 years) for a
s/w conversion house, and on Bougainville Island (PNG) as a systems analyst
-- previous incumbent lost his head due to late payroll (not a joke) :-(

The biggest problem you will face is in the details.

1. English in the US has words / phrases / nuances either not understood in
other countries, or they are culturally / racially ambiguous or offensive.
I won't give examples on the list, but I can assure you this is a bear!

***Be very careful to ensure that what you say (and write) has the meaning
you intend.

2. Work habits: in the US there is a tendency to compartmentalize a task /
process. So, a document may be written by Tech Writer(s), reviewed by a
Tech Editor, illustrated by a Graphics Artist, etc., etc. In another
country, one person will usually be doing all this, and may also be
designing and maintaining corporate web pages.

This can mean that the one person never has much time to be 'expert' in
each facet of document production -- they don't have the time.

***Try to understand the work environment & pressures before passing judgement.

2a. Work habits again: in the US, employers & employees take work
seriously. In other countries, play, siesta, friends, family obligations,
etc. may be more important than work.

***Never assume your product / project is the most important thing in the
lives of others. Identify the local work ethic and make your product /
project fit it. The reverse will never work in the long term.

3. Pens, paper, ink and inches. No-one outside the US uses inches to
measure things. Nada. We :-) all use millimetres and the rest of the
metric measures. This means that you simply *can't* buy / use / print /
bind / post / package American Letter size documents outside the US :-(.
We also spell it metre, not meter, OK.

Also, the inks may differ, environmental considerations may prevent use of
you favourite papers and colours, recycling laws may limit your favourite
packaging material, and so on.

***Study the local press / pre press / packaging industry very carefully
before making any expensive decisions.

4. Legal / corporate entities are different in ever country -- as are the
reporting & legal responsibilities of directors and employers.

***Talk to a legal/accounting firm that has a major presence in the
countries you are interested in.

5. Time zones. I'm typing this at Monday, lunchtime. What time is it for
you? Your accounting system will have to understand time zones as well as
currency differences, otherwise you may end up posting an invoice for an
order that hasn't yet been placed.

***Review your financial & messaging systems with someone who has practical
experience with this problem.

6. Talk to others who have been there, done that. The Carr brothers at
Allette Systems (Australia) Pty Ltd could be a starting point.



Laurence Burrows, Navex Pty Ltd
mailto:burrows -at- ibm -dot- net, 100026 -dot- 172 -at- compuserve -dot- com
tel: +61 3 9602 4533 fax: +61 3 9602 4854

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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