5 pitfalls in translating French SAP ERP implementations and how to avoid them

(Ici vous trouverez l’article en français)

More and more ERP and CRM systems are delivered in the English language which severely limit adoption by non-English speakers. Frequently, I am asked to optimize English language systems for French language speakers. Especially, with the advent of machine translations, verifying and optimizing translations is ever more important for user adaptation. I translate into French software applications and their related tools such as instruction and learning materials.

With over 30 years experience in implementing information systems, mostly Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relations Management (CRM) projects, my focus is on efficient and effective IT use, by creating rich e-Learning environments, with the help of: Blackboard, Moodle, Dokeos, uPerform, User Production Kit (UPK), Articulate, WPB, Enable Now.

For the past 10 years I have been working in France. During this period I have encountered many challenges and pitfalls. The following section outlines the most common pitfalls and the solutions I’ve found for them.

PITFALL 1) Error-free and quick translating do not go together.

My solution :
•Use of translation software

This increases the working speed. I use translation machines such as translate.google.com, deepl.com and linguee.com. Especially deepl.com I appreciate. A strong point for me is the easy availability of synonyms of the translated word.
•Combination of this translation software

It increases accuracy. If you translate the same sentence into the different types of translation machines, you can judge the quality by comparing different results. In this way the quality of the translation can be improved.
•Manual intervention

Because translation software does not work error-free. Translation software produces roughly 80 percent good French translations. The error rate of around 20 percent can be reduced. For example by making the texts you enter more simple and shorter.

It helps that I have been working for 10 years in a variety of French IT environments. For example deepl.com “e-mail” translated into “courriel”. However, I knew that while the majority of French people will understand “courriel” most will use “e-mail”.

PITFALL 2) Users find it very difficult to read manuals and other learning materials. Despite the advice RTFM *)

My solution:
•Increase the accessibility of manuals and instructional materials. By means of:

◦Split longer sentences in smaller parts.

◦Name the content of paragraphs with a short, clear word.

◦Apply a logical order of the different paragraphs.

◦Be consistent with your translated words. It is easier for the reader to read. When translating, keep an overview of which words you chose.

◦Begin enumerations with a verb in the authoritative sense. For example, as I did in the enumerations in this blog post. (Am I right? Look at those words, I’ve made them italic. Do you think it helps the reader?)

•Inform the reader briefly and clearly where to find what.

•Use consistently the same terms. Improve results when a glossary is used. This glossary must be kept up to date all the time.

Consistent abbreviations also are helping the user.

*) Read The F***** Manuel

PITFALL 3) Pure text is easier to translate than text in pictures.

For example with screenshots. The text is then included in a file that cannot be processed by a word processor. Translating the texts into images takes considerably more time. Due to time pressure, project management decides more often to work with the original (screen) images. So the user will see French text with English pictures.

My solution:
•Include consistently the French and English words in the text. For example, ‘Commande d’achat/Purchase Order’. It can be beneficial to use “Cd’a/PO” here. The user reads besides the French word also the English word he/she sees in the pictures.

See also the next point!

PITFALL 4) English language is more concise than French

My solution:
•Use abbreviations. It helps readers if the same abbreviations are being used consistently. For example, abbreviate “Commande d’achat” with “Cd’a”. It was mentioned above that the ‘Commande d’achat/Purchase Order’ should be shortened to ‘Cd’a/PO’. In order to keep everything unambiguous, the glossary discussed above is an excellent tool.

PITFALL 5) The systems for which training material has to be made are not yet, or only partially, available.

My solution :
•Search for translations on websites such as sapterm.com and help.sap.com. By no means all of these websites provide the French translation. However, French translations of an important part of SAP concepts can be found there. How large that part is depends on how much custom work is done in the SAP system used. For custom work, it is much less certain that a correct translation will be found.

An example of the usability of sapterm.com. For sales orders, sapterm.com gives: “commande d’achat”, “bon de commande” and “ordre de vente”. See below:



Working with translation software increases productivity enormously. And for a good, flawless result manual adjustements are still needed.

Finally: I don’t know everything by a long shot. I feel the older I get, the more I realize the little I know. My solution: I am looking up a lot of issues. For example, bending French verbs, for which I use la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com. And also reverso.net .

And in this way, I’ve already provided many satisfied project leaders with translations. And many more users have gone to work to learn to use a system. With teaching materials that I helped to make.

Do you have questions on translating for SAP ERP implementations?
I love to answer them!

I have experience with financial and logistic software solutions: IBM-Copics, Mapics, Dun & Bradstreet, AMAPS, Big Bear, King, Exact, Baan, JDEdwards, Siebel, Oracle products such as PASS, E-Business Suite (EBS).

And I worked with many SAP products. Started in 1989 in a mainfraime environment (SAP R/2). Followed by client-server environments (SAP R/3) and mySAP ERP (ECC ERP Central Component). Main functional experience in the fields of SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management (SCM), Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM). More specific projects with Enterprise Central Component (ECC), Supply Chain Management (SCM), Master Data Management (MDM), Apparel and Footwear Solution (AFS), Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), HANA (formerly known as High-performance Analytics Appliance).


Cycling in Paris

Octobre 2016 my youngest son pictured me on  the “Axe Historique” in Paris. The  “Axe Historique” is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the centre of Paris, to the west. It is also known as the Voie Triomphale (“triumphal way”). Both “la Grande Arche” and the “Arc de Triomphe” are part of it.

I do find it a beautiful picture. And historic too. On the horizon, you see a glimpse of “la Grande Arche” in la Defense. Looking into the opposite direction one can see the “Arc de Triomphe”.

Historically also because I had been photographed there 42 years earlier.
During a cycling holiday with my sister in 1975.
My sister then took this picture of me:

We took the train from Roosendaal (NL) to Gare du Nord, Paris (F). To make a tour about 1000 kilometers, following the river “la Loire”.  This tour you can see below, on the road map we used :


October 2016, 41 years later,  my youngest son visited me in Paris. On the “Avenue Mac-Mahon”,  41 years later, here again with the “Arc de Triomphe” :


Quality of cycle paths Lille>Paris

Between Lille & Paris I came across cycle paths of very different quality. / Entre Lille et Paris, je suis tombé sur des pistes cyclables de qualité très différente.

JUNE 2016 I pictured some of these different qualities below: / JUIN 2016 J’ai présenté ci-dessous quelques-unes de ces différentes qualités :





One has to search good for suitable cycling routes / Il faut chercher bon pour pistes cyclables appropriées !

z pain 1

Tips for cycling holiday in NL

Are you planning to have a cycle holiday in the Netherlands?

Here you find most of the advice I have been given over the years.
In France I am often being asked for on cycling issues.
Moreoften by people who wanted to cycle in the Netherlands.

Often I am asked for advice on cycling in my home country.

Often my first advice is to check the cycle path network : “LF-routes” pictured in red here below. This is a network of long distance bicycle routes. (note that practicallly all bicycle paths can be found on routeplanner.fietsersbond.nl, which is in dutch,”in Deutsch” et “en Français“.) :

LF-routes = Langeafstand (long distance) Fietsroutes

An attractive cycle path I find the LF1 Noordzee-route / Dutch Coastal Route (Part of the international track which is connecting Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, with Germany). However you can reach any destination via good cycle paths, using this network. See the read network in the picture above.

dutch coastal route LF1.png
The LF1 “Noordzee-route”/”Dutch Costal Route”. You cycle along the sea. You’ll meet not too much cars. You’ll smell a lot of nature.

 About the dutch weather

Statistics learn that it rains, during a year, on average 7% of time in the Netherlands. Do you find that much? Sure it will not always be bright sunshine as on the picture above. Some times, but not very often, it can be like this   :

If it rains : you just wait :).  This cabin is a “trekkershut”/”hiker’s cabin”. You can hire here : www.trekkershutten.nl/en/.
No rain, no sun. Perfect for cycling!

If you do not like cycling against the wind, I think it is the best to cycle the LF1 from south to north. As most of the time wind is coming from the south west.

How does the LF1 looks like?

Some impressions of cycle path LF1 :

  1. See some some video-impressions (5 minutes) of 2 Dutch coureurs doing the 460 km between Duinkerken/Dunkirk/Dunkerque and Den Helder in 3 days. The first minutes are in Belgian. It is in the second part where you will see the famous high quality cycling lanes : flat asphalt, only bicycles. Along the coast the best parts are looking like : lf1 zeeland
  2. A Belgian mother with her daughter and her parents, did it far more easy as pictured in this slide show (2 minutes)  (with well chosen music).
  3. 6 minutes of video, no music, no words  … very good impression on the experience and quality of the LF1.
  4. And a 15 minute video where you see even more variation (wait for the nice sandy  beaches).

To reach the LF1 from Lille : one can start following the river “la Lys“/”de Leie” up to Deinze (or even to Genth). On Google Maps one can find this route from Lille (F) to Sluis (NL) Especially following this really good cycling path next to the Leie from Menen (F) up till Genth (B) is very quiet. However nearly no signs. For the good signs you have to wait untill you are in the Netherlands. Between Deinze and Sluis I think it is not that beautiful … I did not take this route. Most of the time I cycle Genth – Bergen op Zoom (30 km north of Antwerp. A lot of bad cycling paths … but as soon as you enter the Netherlands infrastructure for cyclists is just great. Not only on the LF1, but everywhere in the Netherlands.

Where to sleep? (and about a good map!)

A lot of possibilities to stay overnight are found on the LF1 Basiskaart (it costs about €25 in the Netherlands). You will find more possibilities to stay overnight, which are not indicated on this map. Finding a B&B, hostel, hotel is not to difficult. I do not like to make reservations. When cycling it is not that easy to plan. In the end there is always a place to lay your head down. Personnaly I like these 22 maps of the LF1 Basiskaart. They cover the whole of the Netherlands. And they are protected against rain. I like to have a map in my hand. As it is nice to be able to see what kind of routes and landscapes are in front of me. I like computers, but when I am cycling I like to have a map next to my coffee. Just for imagining a bit on what is coming up that day. Open windy roads? Trees? Nature? How to avoid cities and industrial zones?

When searching for a place to sleep, I do have most confidence on ending your day for a village/city at the coast. In villages and cities you’ll find people with the sign “zimmer frei” (= room available). As a lot of Germans are coming to the Dutch coast. I have an idea the prices will be acceptable. You knock on the door, see the room, hear the price. A good method. Reserving in advance? It is not easy to plan, when cycling! A lot of cyclists must be following this method.

Another possibility is to check http://www.warmshowers.org. The site is self explaining. And my experiences are that you’ll find people who love to cycle long distances. So they know what cyclists are in need of.
It is a bit of planning in advance. However I do find it a very attractive way of finding a place to stay. And to participate the joy of cycling.

And another possibility is to join the association “Vrienden op de fiets“. Membership is €10 per year. You can stay with members, at their homes. You pay about €20 per night, per person. Members(often active cyclists theirselves) prepare a good breakfast. There is also the possibility of having a lunch packet being  prepared for about €5.  Members will be sent  get a guide, with the adresses and telephone numbers. You can also use the web site. I entered the web site, the route between Hoek van Holland and The Hague. Resulting in following map (I choose for French language here!) :

vrienden op fiets denhelder den haag
screenprint of the website vriendenopdefiets.nl (french version)

The circles with numbers show the amount of adresses of members in that village. So in Hoek van Holland there are 2 addresses. In ‘s-Gravenzande 10. And in The Hague 38 people who offer a room to stay. So as soon as you have an idea when you will be arriving in a certain area, you choose an address from the supplied guide (or from the web site) and you pass a telephone call. And you’re sleeping place is arranged! (En Français toute l’information à : www.vriendenopdefiets.nl/fr/ .

Visiting the “Waddeneilanden”

The “Wadden-eilanden” are  the islands in the north of the Netherlands.

From Den Helder, you can take the ferry to the biggest island Texel. All info at www.teso.nl (also in english).

From Texel you can take, with your bicycle, a boat to Vlieland. It is a small boat, and maybe you have to wait for the next boat as there are many people. Or in case of bad weather. All info (only in dutch!) : www.waddenveer.nl. I did this trip with my children and their mother, with bicycles. During  a summer holiday following the LF1. In this video (6 minutes) one can discover the passage with the boat “De vriendschap” and the truck which brings you and your bicycles from Texel to Vlieland (Or Vlieland to Texel). You might have to watch the video a few times to really have an idea of how it works.

Between the two islands named Vlieland, Terschelling and the town Harlingen, there is this ferry : www.rederij-doeksen.nl (also in english).

Taking the train

Taking the train in the Netherlands is not that difficult. And sure you can take your bicycle (which needs to be payed for, €6,10 in 2016. You can not take a bicycle during rush hours. Search the following web site. All possibilities, all schedules, all prices, you find on www.ns.nl (also in english).  (To see where you can find all train stations go to trein-kaart.nl.)

You like to see another video of how cycle paths can look like? See my short trip in Zeeland.

More tips?

I would like to write on why I advice to avoid Amsterdam. And do some suggestions on other places. For cities which I personaly more appreciate than Amsterdam. Like Haarlem, Leiden, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Bergen op Zoom, s’-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven or Groningen.
If you are interested in other places than Amsterdam, it might help if you agree with me that Lille is a more pleasant place to stay than Paris …
So I like Lille more than Paris.
We can discuss on this issue.
Come to visit me in Ronchin. And we could cycle to the Palais de Beaux Arts. We could cycle to the café “Poand d’Or”, ordering a bottle of “Trois Monts” and share it.
Like I did with my brothers.(still have te publsh a photo of this come together)

contact me for specific questions –

Why I prefer open source, above closed source software

You rather see a video on why I prefer open source? This video on “why to change from Windows to Linux” I recommend.

Since the early ’80-ties I am implementing information systems.  In 1983 I was a system adminstrator of a Philips 7000-minicomputer. This minicomputer looked like these pictures:  (found on retrospace.org).

I learned secretaries to operate work stations (as on the left). And I made back-ups every week. All data were stored on removable disks (as on the right). These disks were used in a grandfather-father-son rotation back-up-scheme. I still following this backup-method. Today with USB-keys. Much easier to handle!

Since 1983 I have been implementing all kind of financial and logistic systems. Mainly closed software (also referred to as proprietary software). Like: IBM-Copics, Mapics, Dun & Bradstreet, AMAPS, Grote Beer, King, Exact, Baan, Oracle-products, SAP R/2 and R/3, etc. etc.

Since 2006 I started to explore the added value of open source software. Starting to install Linux on Apple Macintoshes. (Not the most easy choice. I learned that Apple does includes a lot of protection to its hardware. So if you want to try Linux, install it on a computer which can run a Microsoft operating system. You encounter less incompatibilities.) I also started to orientate on different Content Management Systems  (CMS). A CMS facilitates the construction of websites. As there are a lot of open source projects one has to choose. So I concentrated for CMS on: Drupal (drupal.org/user/80418) and  WordPress. And for e-Learning on Moodle.
Using e.g.: Ubuntu as operating system, Inkscape to draw, GIMP to edit images, FileZilla for transfering files, PHPMyAdmin for administrating databases, OpenShot to edit video.

Today we can use our portable computers everywhere. Here you see my laptop computer in our kitchen (on the left). And my Linux UBUNTU 14.04-desktop (on the right). A lot of differences with minicomputers as on the B&W-pictures above. In 1983 it felt magic that we could exchange e-messages with other Philips-computers at local Philips-organisations in America, Africa, Asia etc.. A big difference is that today we can connect to many, many other computers, via internet. Possibilities have so much increased. So much more functionality. And I can sent messages to many places, in many ways. Other people can communicate with my computer, much easier. Also spammers and criminals do try. And they succeed. So among other issues, also security is an issue.

I prefer open source above closed source. Why? Short as open source is free. Free not as in free beer, but as in free speech. I see many advantages in open source. Just to address -only- two aspects:

  1. Reliability. One example: in general I’ve more confindence in open source Wikipedia as source of information, than closed sources.
  2. Security. In open source projects a large group of independ volunteers looking into security issues. At closed source software companies people with less independ ties (often they are paid by the company) have influence on security issues. The independency of open source environments, do give me more confidence of good care for security.

All aspects do have a relation with the fact that open source projects can have a hugh number of contributors. In general I believe in the strength of the big amount of people joining open source projects, with all kind of different opinons and interests. More than the often smaller groups of employees who working for closed source companies.

I feel the older I get, the more I realise how little I know. Well I know I have a preference for bigger, open group of people. With different insights. Personally I keep on thinking that our future is based on all the individual decisions we take. So if I have a choice between a Coca Cola and a local flemish brewed beer. I’ll choose for this beer. As I do not like to support the Coca Cola company. Thinking on Coca Cola I see a multi-national company which are is more efficient. And also more efficient to avoid to pay tax. I see Coca Cola’s efficient marketing. And I see the obesitas-problem. Therefore I have rarely chosen for a Coca Cola. And still it can be difficult. Local flemish brewed beer, can be part of a big enterprise. An enterprise where its stockholders are most important. And where earning money can be of bigger importance than producing good food. In the end I think it helps if we all try to chose good food. So personally I like to make my favorite recipe of backed rice : “nasi goreng” (on this blog I have the recipe in english, and french) with as much as possible local products. However the rice, cacahuètes, etc., I have them imported for me. But I try to add local carottes, cabbage, eggs, (a bit of!) porc, and …   …. flemish beer.

And in many cases open source is not a suitable solution. For example for a lot of financial and logistic applications made with closed source/proprietary software. Not easy, rather impossible to replace them by open source solutions. I can’t imagine how big organisations like factories, financial institutions replace just like that their enormous administrations towards open source solutions. For sure I see possibilities for open source solutions. It might be compared to changing the actual fossile energy systems towards less polluting ones. In a lot of occassions we can decide to take a bicycle, instead of a fossile energy driven car. But a society without fossile energy driven cars? That is a long way ahead.  So I promote: if you can choose for open source. Consider to do so.

A lot to reflect on. How to improve the added value of all these IT systems? I try to concentrate on a few things. Choosing for open source, when I have a choice. Plus trying to approve my capabilities to speak, read and write in French.  So to finish this blog post, my opinion en français :  Je préfère logiciel open source. Parce que c’est libre. Libre pas comme un bière en libre service (bière gratuits), mais comme en liberté d’expression.




Typically Dutch? Nasi Goreng?

From ± 1800 – 1949 Indonesia was a Dutch colony. The Dutch imported, among a lot of other stuff, the national food of Indonesia “Nasi Goreng“, which means “fried rice”. My mother learned me to fry rice. She was a nurse in Indonesia from 1947-1949 . I prepare “nasi” like this (ci-dessous il y a ce texte en français) :

  1. Fry meat (one can choose any meat, mostly I choose chicken or porc, and bacon is a good choice) koriander and cumin, when brown add onions.
  2. Add diced carottes (one can boil them a bit, but sure bake well with the onions, so the carottes are getting the koriander/cumin taste)
  3. Add rice (which was boiled before)
  4. Add the cabbage, which you chop into pieces (take care that cabbage is stewd gentle)
  5. Vegetarians do not add meat (one can add more carottes!)
  6. And vegans? Often I have prepared a quick nassi as meal for my self. With a mint tea from the garden I do find it a good meal.

Goes well with: soja sauce, eggs, bananas, coconut , peanuts, raisins, fried shrimp, etc. etc.

(EN) Clockwise: leak, carrots, rice, meat, cabbage. / (F) Dans le sens des aiguilles d´une montre : le poireau, les carottes, le riz, lardons + les oignons cuits avec de la coriandre + cumin et du chou
(EN) Nasi is backed! Also you see the bananas ready to be backed, ginger, eggs, sambal soya sauce, peanuts sauce / (F) Le nasi est cuit! Ici on voit aussi : des bananes prêtes pour être cuit, le gingembre, les oignons cuits, des œufs durs, sauce piment, sauce soja et sauce cacahuètes


A table! :)
(EN) Come and get it! / (F) À table! 🙂
(EN) Something to drink? Tea goes well. Or beer. / (F) Quelque chose à boire? Du thé convient parfaitement. Ou de la bière


Ci-dessous la recette en français :

De ± 1800 – 1949 L’Indonésie était une colonie Néerlandaise. Les Néerlandais ont amené le plat national d’Indonésie : “Nasi Goreng” ce qui veut dire “Riz Cuit”. Ma mère m’a appris à cuir le riz. Elle était infirmière en Indonésie de 1947-1949, . Moi je le fais comme ça:

  1. Cuire de la viande (on peut prendre n’importe quelle viande) avec coriandre et cumin, puis une fois cuite ajouter les oignons.
  2. Ajouter les carottes, couper en dés (on peut bouillir en avance, mais je trouve important de faire revenir bien les carottes avec le mélange des oignions, coriandre et cumin)
  3. Ajouter le riz (que l’on fait bouillir en avance)
  4. Ajouter le chou, couper en lamelles (le chou doit être bouilli jusqu’à ce que les lamelles soient fondantes)
  5. Pour les végétariens, ne pas ajouter la viande (on peut mettre plus de carottes!)
  6. Et les végétaliens? Plus souvent j’ai le nassi prépare, comme petit repas pour moi même. Avec un the du menthe, beaucoup carrottes, choux ça me donne un bon repas.

Mes petites astuces : vous pouvez saupoudre de sauce de soja, bananes, coco rapée, cacahuètes, raisins, beignets de crevettes etc. etc. Très clair, brève description sur fr.wikipedia l’explication de “Nasi Goreng”. Pour plus de détails: les recettes “Nasi Goreng” sur marimiton.org.


Préférence personnelle : des œufs cuits, avec un sauce aux cacahuètes (« sauce sate »). Sauce aux cacahuètes :

  • Remuer un oignon dans l’huile.
  • Ajouter de l’ail
  • Ajouter de la crème de cacahuètes.
  • Faire une sauce en ajoutant du lait (et : vinaigre, piment, sauce soja, noix coco)


Hieronder het recept in het Nederlands:

Van ± 1800 – 1949 was Indonesie een Nederlandse kolonie. De Nederlanders importeerde, naast een heleboel andere zaken het nationaal gerecht van Indonesie: “Nasi Goreng“, wat betekent “rijst gebakken”. Mijn moeder deed me voor hoe je nassi maakt. Ze verbleef in Batavia, het huidige Djakarta, als verpleegster in het Nederlands leger 1947-1949 . Toen ik het ouderlijk huis verliet om te gaan studeren, leerde ze hoe je het simpel aan kan pakken. Men neme een zakje Nassikruiden van Conimex. En volgt de korte en heldere handleiding op dat zakje. Als student en later vader, en weer later man van een Franse vrouw heb ik menige nassi gemaakt. En daar heel veel positieve reacties op gehad. Ik maak nassi als volgt:

  1. Bak vlees in vet, en voeg koriander- (ketoembar) en komijn (djinten)-poeder toe (alle soorten vlees komen in aanmerking, ik kies vaak kip of varkensvlees, en uitgebakken spekjes krijgen veel waardering). Als vlees aangebakken is voeg gesnipperde ui toe.
  2. Voeg wortel in dobbelsteentjes toe. (Je kan wortel een beetje garen door vooraf te koken in water, winterpeen kook je langer dan jonge bospeen. Bak vooral de wortelblokjes mee in het vlees/ui mengsel, zodat de kruiden goed in de wortel trekken.)
  3. Bak rijst mee (die je vooraf hebt gekookt)
  4. Voeg stukken, reepjes kool toe. Ik kies vaak witte, savoie of chinese kool (let op dat de kool genoeg mee gaart, maar niet kapot gekookt wordt.)
  5. Vegetariers voegen geen vlees toe (echter ze kunnen meer wortel toevoegen!)

Erbij serveren kan : ketjap, gekookte of gebakken eieren, saté-saus, gebakken bananen, kokos , pinda’s, rozijnen, kroepoek etc. etc.

En als je weinig tijd en/of ervaring hebt. Koop een zakje nassikruiden en volg de handleiding!