Service Management Specialists


Getting over language barriers

A multinational business by the very nature of it will have language barrier issues between business units. But more than this, there are also the cultural differences between the ways that business is conducted in the various countries.

When we think of efficiencies in business we may be drawn towards buying materials, equipment and assets in bulk. To have agreements that cover all our business units across all the countries. To align our processes and systems and perhaps centralise some of our functions. And that’s because if the business isn’t at peak operating efficiency then it is either not fully profitable today, nor will be on the top of the competition tomorrow.

But these are agreements, financial terms, process terms that are indeed very logical in nature. But day to day businesses are very much run by individuals, teams and through collaboration. It is ironic then that centralising functions such as IT then drives up the need to collaborate and understand the differences between the countries and their business units. Because in the end we have to deal with the consumers of our services.

I have been fortunate enough to experience and run rollouts for training, systems and processes across Europe and I’ve met some truly great people along the way. Great because it really opened my eyes to many different styles of working. All valid and all working to fit closely to the local consumers of their services.

So for example, in the Netherlands they are very open to change, but find themselves complaining a lot too - this is very like the UK! Very pragmatic also, the Netherlands is the real centre of many things, but the view and acceptance of moving forward with technology and digital is very high and very northern european.

Whereas in the Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Spain, they are far more likely to conduct business face to face. At the coffee machine seems very popular. And I don’t blame them - their coffee is great! But moving their service consumers across to logging everything in a system, that’s not so easy. It very much lacks the human interaction that they need.

So in trying to create a common set of training, tools and processes, it can be very challenging. An approach to this can be to start simple and be agile. Creating a set of minimum viable products that fit all. Then a revisit for future phases to take all business units further and further up the maturity ladder. Also listening carefully to local needs and advice.

For me personally this approach really flew in the face of many previous experiences of rollout in the UK. In the UK, the mantra was always to put everything in and then the fabled phase 2, well, that never actually happened. And this was always down to budget, lack of foresight, lack of appreciation of the value of maturity. Usually because service management projects fail to get heard over the noise of the core business. It’s just a supporting set of roles and functions after all. But if service management projects drive efficiency, why shouldn’t these be valid. They also smooth the experience for others across the business to conduct their daily business. And who doesn’t want that?

So I see that we all have much to learn from each other across our European neighbours, just as they have much to learn from us. To work together in a way that’s motivating and human and also to embrace new ways of thinking and working too.

Sapphiratech offer Service Management Consulting across the UK and the EU, covering mentoring of IT teams, ITIL maturity consulting, training, process improvement and tool selection.

Contact John for a chat about requirements today on 0117 457 6754 or email

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