Any successful localization program owes itself to the resources involved in running it. While the names for these positions will vary, your Language Service Provider (LSP) likely has four core roles driving the day-to-day program work. These are your primary contacts, and they're highly specialized and experienced localization professionals who ensure your program runs smoothly.
In the first of this blog series, we’ll cover those core roles responsible for getting your files translated in accordance with your quality standards, and getting them ready to be deployed.
One of the most visible roles from the client’s perspective is the localization vendor’s project manager, who serves as the main contact for day-to-day program operations. The PM accepts file handoffs from the client and places them into the appropriate workflows with clear instructions, monitoring the files throughout the process, assisting with the resolution of any issues blocking progress, and escalating as appropriate to ensure on-time delivery of translations that adhere to the client’s quality standards.
Many of these steps are normally part of an automated workflow, where the PM only needs to manage by exception, accelerating the process and mitigating the potential for human error.
The PM is also responsible for reporting data in the agreed-upon format and rhythm, and for managing day-to-day financials such as budgeting, invoicing, quoting, and project-level forecasting and dashboards.
A great localization project manager is customer focused, detail-oriented, and an excellent communicator — especially when it comes to spreadsheets, schedules, and checklists. Typically, this professional comes from a production background and has 5+ years’ experience in the localization industry.
Some may have professional certifications and experience outside of localization, but ideally your PM is a localization generalist with a very clear understanding of the global nature and complexity of the translation process, as well as skills communicating in a remote, virtual team environment.
Production Team Manager
You may or may not have much contact with the production team manager — also known as the operations manager — but this role is responsible for delivering your work. The production team manager sources and assigns the right linguists, engineers, and other personnel to deliver your projects, managing their capacity and assigning backups as needed.
This person is also responsible for equipping the team with the right tools, documentation, training, and other resources necessary to deliver the work appropriately.
Typically, this role has team or vendor management expertise and has 2+ years’ experience in the localization industry. This person is an excellent people-manager, goal-focused, and adept at organizing resource teams to complete work according to schedule and budget.
Language Quality Lead
Your language quality lead is obsessed with quality and provides you with details about the make-or-break nuances of defining quality, designing scorecards, managing glossaries and style guides, assuring quality of Translation Memories and termbases — all critical to driving quality, consistency and high leverage.
This role is responsible for understanding precisely what you mean when you say “high-quality” — remember, that’s extremely subjective and context-driven — and developing processes that achieve your standards.
Your quality lead will advise you on optional approaches and best practices for different content types, helping you balance competing priorities around cost, quality, and turnaround time. This role will monitor project feedback like a hawk, facilitating clear communication among reviewers and translators while updating translation assets to reflect new input, and performing root cause analyses to eliminate errors at the source.
This professional has an eye for detail, loves language, and sees the big picture. Typically this person has 5+ years’ experience as a translator or proofreader.
Also known as the engineering lead, this role handles technical aspects of your files to mitigate preventable errors. Your files most likely need conversion to a translation-friendly format such as XLIFF, which separates the translatable strings from content you don’t want touched, such as code or meta data.
Your localization lead manages file preparations and conversions before and after translation to ensure the translated files are defect-free: no garbage strings or broken code. This person also provides technical support on the computer-assisted translation tools for translation teams.
As a lead, this person typically has been promoted from a production position after 3+ years of experience. While not strictly a software engineer, the localization lead is nonetheless highly technical and loves digging around in code to understand various file formats, troubleshoot code, and develop scripts that facilitate file conversions.
With these roles collaborating and coordinating closely, the result is a smoothly running localization project. While this core team comprises the central and arguably most important drivers of a localization program, they are not the only resources involved in your project day-to-day.
Next week, we’ll cover some of the other production and management resources supporting processes needed to handle the increased volumes and scope of a growing and increasingly complex program.