An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s a cliché, but life experience usually confirms its truth. When dealing with a complex process such as localization, there is a wide range of things that can go wrong, so navigating around pitfalls can be a major factor in your success. An experienced localization partner can help you take a proactive approach to translation problems and solutions with careful planning, reliable systems, and a commitment to localization at its best.
Getting a Head Start on Translation Problems and Solutions
Very few things are really foolproof; localization certainly is not. But there are steps you can take to head off many translation problems. Here are a few simple principles that can prevent errors and save you major time and money.
1. Invest in terminology upfront.
Nothing beats a good beginning on your road to success. For localization, this means getting your terminology in order before you start translating. Your term base is like the foundation you build your house on: without it, you have no way to develop a reliable structure. It supports your brand and your success with local markets by ensuring that the language works for your market’s cultural sensibilities and for their UX. In the absence of a functional term base, you’re sure to encounter inconsistencies and suffer missed opportunities for efficient workflow.
Similarly, translation memories help you to build on your progress for the most efficient localization possible. Without functional TMs—or with TMs that haven’t been kept up to date—you’re bound to keep reinventing the wheel. If you change language service providers (LSPs) because the first didn’t meet your expectations but you don’t take a second look at the TM you’re handing to the next vendor, you’re likely to be equally disappointed in their efforts. Take responsibility for maintaining these critical tools now, and make sure your LSP is just as committed to the task because you do need everyone working together with well-understood processes.
2. Manage accountability and review.
If anyone is allowed do anything to your content, sooner or later, somebody will do the wrong thing. That’s why it’s important to have careful monitoring and quality management in place. In a monolingual environment, an issue may be remedied relatively easily, but in a more complex localization ecosystem, the costs to fix cascading problems can become prohibitive. Now is the time to establish tight, systemic approaches to editing and review—and to tracking all actions—before the content even reaches the translators.
This overall accountability also bears on your single source of truth, the centralized source of assets that make content consistency and integrity possible. A unified platform helps to keep shared goals front of mind, it maintains transparency and accountability, and it makes it possible for all stakeholders to take responsibility for updating the single source of truth that localization success depends upon.
3. Educate about localization.
A lack of knowledge about localization is often a factor when trying to set up workflows and maintain your source of truth. Your team and your colleagues need to understand the importance of dedicated market focus, and they need to know how and why you are all mobilizing to make it happen. The more everyone understands about localization goals, the better they can do their part and support everyone else along the pipeline.
You should also understand the difference between translating and localizing. Simply being a translator isn’t qualification enough to manage a localization project; it takes a commitment to the wider goals, to centralized collaboration, and to creative adaptations that speak to the target market and their unique interests.
Your localization manager needs to understand APIs, software build processes, and agile software development cycles. Good localization strategy demands that you understand the target audience’s associations with the product, their cultural expectations, and the particular words and commands they are familiar with in similar products. These nuances have to be plumbed and accounted for in order to start a campaign because mistakes can have a snowball effect, sending your product careening off course fast.
4. Don’t rush.
Quality takes time. Your LSP needs time to find the right translators who have an appropriate background. If you want an app translated, your linguists need a while to play with it to understand what they are supposed to be talking about. Under a grueling schedule, your LSP may be forced to use a large number of translators each doing small pieces of the project, which affords much less accountability than is necessary. It takes time for collaborators to become sufficiently informed about your brand, your product, or your goals. And you don’t want to miss opportunities to take advantage of important tools like TMs and style guides simply because there wasn’t enough time to set them up and bring people up to speed. The risks are too great to neglect this source of truth. And without a strong, centralized system, these safeguards are likely impossible—so, you know where you need to begin.
Don’t Underestimate the Role of Your LSP
Workflow, teamwork, and terminology are key elements of successful localization, so it’s not surprising that they are the areas where you need to keep an eye out for potential problems. But the burden shouldn’t all fall on you. Partner with an LSP with the technology to support the workflow that works best for you and your product. Ensure that you’re prepared to maintain accountability and the integrity of your source of truth. And experienced localization experts can set a critical example for how your own LocOps team should collaborate.
Bureau Works’ centralized platform takes the guesswork out of localization. We enable you to track and manage your workflow from beginning to end, using automation to provide maximum transparency for all stakeholders. With years of experience, we can also guide you toward the most successful localization campaign possible. Contact our team to find out how problem-free your localization can be.
February 11, 2020