Best Practices in Translation & Localization Program Management

Localization Project Management

Localization program management has always been a particularly dynamic, multifaceted career choice — what, with the range of global stakeholders, the infinite variety of local preferences to anticipate, and the constant shuffle of cost, time and quality constraints. Increasing demands for real-time, multi-channel multi-lingual content means the job is only getting more intense.

So how do the top global brands structure localization programs for success? What best practices can your company adopt to optimize translation and localization program investments?

Early & Tight Integration

Top-performing global companies control localization costs better than almost everyone else. How? For starters, they respect and prioritize their localization investments. By tightly integrating translation and localization processes early in the product lifecycle, these brands solve problems before they have a chance to take root — problems their competitors waste precious time and money solving reactively.

Loop your localization manager into the start of the product development conversation and keep localization continually engaged in any evaluation that determines next steps or additional products and services for the market. By anticipating and answering the needs of foreign consumers prior to launches, top brands avoid costly missteps, fixes and delays. 

Standardization

What makes Nike’s brand voice so different from a company like Deloitte Touche? Like corporate identity, language style is used to deliver a consistent, identifiable, and reliable buyer experience using tools like glossaries, terminology databases, and style guides. While handled by an interchangeable set of translators, reviewers, experts and others, these tools ensure that assets like phrases, concepts, and instructional guides consistently convey a standard identity, regardless of language and from project to project.

Thankfully, not all of these tools have to be unique to your brand. Microsoft, for example, is among those large industry players who are steadily publishing terminology for industry-wide usage. Before recreating the wheel, simply take a look around in your own marketplace for the same.

Quality Control

The mindfulness that goes into early and tight integration and properly standardizing assets will pay off in terms of quality. Forethought mitigates the far costlier demands for fixes, troubleshooting, help documentation, and phone support across your language locales.

Language services buyers must engage with localization vendors early and often on the conversation about quality. As we wrote recently, developments such as self-certified quality assurance and contextual translation systems show that in localization, quality results come from quality relationships. As in other areas of work, trust drives good performance.

Efficiency

As our industry colleagues at Multilizer recently blogged, technological improvements in localization do not imply that everything can be automated. Efficiencies in translation project management call for process audits that closely examine where and when automation can be applied to smooth workflows, reduce unnecessary manual tasks (and their related costs), and improve project turnarounds.

Of course, as we have emphasized before, investment in translation management systems should be undertaken with caution. Nobody wants to be locked into an outdated, proprietary system when modular, lightly customized solutions are far more adaptive to the speed of content development.

Content-Aware Flexibility

Top-performing global companies are unsurprisingly the most flexible with regard to the diversity and volume of content they localize. Consider the broad spectrum of content that a single global player might want to localize for its markets:

  • Website pages
  • Software strings
  • Facebook posts
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Quick start guides
  • YouTube videos
  • Help documentation

We’re talking different content types, specializations, resource needs, distribution channels and more. Each content type requires its own process and specialized resources.That said, strong project management can help you harness content management automation and still create systems and processes that are flexible, adaptive, and scalable.

Communication Savvy

We feel so passionately about the role of language services providers in facilitating the best practices of localization project management that we have published both a manifesto and an eBook on the subject. (Go ahead and download copies, with our compliments.)

Information Orchestration — a well-coordinated flow of localization information and resources — absolutely requires a concerted effort at communication between teams, whether tightly bound in a department or siloed in dispersed teams. Communication savvy is vital to ensuring that internal and external localization teams have the trust, authority, and means to help the company reach its localization goals in each language market.

What are your top challenges in localization program management, and what localization best practices have you observed in top-performing global brands?