A steady, controlled workflow makes life easier for all stakeholders and is an important factor in your success. Localization automation tools are an obvious option that can improve your workflow and give you scalability, the ability to expand smoothly into new markets.
But automation isn’t exactly automatic. It happens as a result of a lot of hard work up front to develop systems and resources that will sustain your localization projects.
Who Needs Localization Automation Tools?
Localization automation contributes to consistency, efficiency, quality, and timeliness. If you’re not already concerned about these things, you should be. Integrations might be the first thing you think of related to automation—especially if you’re a product manager or developer who’s close to the product’s technical dimensions. You or someone on your team might even be capable of implementing many worthwhile automation solutions for localization.
But don’t underestimate the major need for smooth workflow management when it’s time to apply automated solutions. This is where the specialized attention really pays off. Everyone can benefit from the added efficiencies and reliability of comprehensive localization automation tools—product managers, marketing managers, localization managers, developers, learning managers, translators, reviewers, and the list goes on.
Localization Pain Points That Automation Can Address
When a centralized platform is in charge, collaborators are notified automatically when their responsibility is next up. When a requester puts a translation request in motion, the platform can move the work along without much, if any, managerial oversight and with no waiting for human handling. This simple task remains simple when there are no time differences, backlogs or misunderstandings. Thanks to a system of tagging and experience tracking, work can be automatically routed to the most qualified translator. And the notoriously complicated process of working with in-country reviewers can be largely overcome; a collaborative platform makes connection immediate and all tasks trackable. Everyone’s responsibilities become straightforward and accessible. Imagine that.
For the sake of quality management, you need to have the ability to see what’s happening in real time. With automated tracking of all tasks, you can monitor translation progress and leverage the data for system improvement.
This is especially important as your company grows. Automation enables scalability. Once it’s set up with the necessary workflows and resources, your platform will run even as you feed more and more content projects into it. Traditionally, more work means more stakeholders and more chances for projects to go off the rails—hence, even more need for management. That is, unless you have a centralized ecosystem in place that is self-sustaining.
The archaic process of transferring files is a huge time suck. Export, import, upload, download—these are all outdated and unnecessary steps in the localization pathway. Your company may be losing hundreds of man hours on tedious tasks that could be done quickly and easily with API integration or by deploying a powerful CLI.
Bottlenecks and Other Delays
Another pain point that automation helps to solve is the speed of delivery. With so many potential bottlenecks in a manual system, the risks to your schedule are high. But if you don’t have to waste time doing the basic organizational tasks, the work happens much more efficiently all around.
For example, with automated capture of content and assignments to the appropriate translators, you can initiate a project and have those localizable strings sitting in front of the translator within minutes, so they can start working on them immediately. Once the translator has completed their part, the project is instantaneously shuffled to an editor or reviewer, and the steps are tracked along the way. There is no need to manage the actual flow of the work; it all happens faster than if a person were overseeing it, and it means that you retain your time that can be better spent elsewhere.
It may not be something you think of regarding the flow of work in the localization pipeline, but the related auxiliary workflows like terminology management are absolutely critical for the consistency and quality of your localized products. It’s one aspect of your ecosystem that does rely on careful human attention to develop standards and maintain them. But masterful style and terminology management also rely on a single source of truth, facilitated by a centralized platform that makes these fundamental resources available to all collaborators for every project.
Often, retrofitting is a concern for the developers, who are much better off working with localization in mind from the start. Screen real estate and text expansion, RTL languages, name and address conventions—these are things that developers need to plan for so that localization works to accommodate global market variables. Machine translation is a developer’s friend when testing the localization readiness of an application. A trial run translation—even if it isn’t in its perfect localized version—gives a developer the context for internationalizing a product proactively.
Just as important are placeholders in the product’s back end that protect critical elements during translation by giving translators situational awareness of what will go into that placeholder eventually. Developers should use intuitive naming conventions for placeholders so that, when translators see them, they can anticipate what will fill in the gap and they can move that placeholder in ways that fit their target language’s syntax. Choose a localization platform that protects those placeholders during the file parsing stage. That way, translators cannot edit the placeholders themselves, but they can rearrange them as necessary. Make sure your tool makes placeholder names visible (albeit not editable). This empowers developers and translators to be creative and flexible as they work toward shared localization goals.
Content Automation Frees You to Handle More Important Tasks
Effective automation frees you from petty administrative duties and allows you to use your time and talents on more creative tasks. For example:
- worrying about the fine details and the evolution of a project
- expanding your translators’ knowledge about your product and your brand
- providing feedback and growing your powerful source of truth
One thing you don’t need to do is reinvent the wheel. However, automated systems do require time and humanpower for the extensive development, maintenance, and troubleshooting that keep them running. Instead of shouldering this heavy responsibility by yourself, a much more effective approach is to partner with a localization service provider (LSP), an expert in the many dimensions of localization. This partnership allows you to enjoy the advantages of a system that reflects years of experience and fine tuning. Your team of localization automation experts can customize an automated solution to your exact workflows, relieving you of the many technical tasks that are simply a distraction from your higher priorities.
At Bureau Works, we work closely with our clients to tailor an automated, centralized platform to conform to unique workflows, increasing both the speed and the quality of the localization process. Contact our team today to learn more about how you can improve your localization process.
January 8, 2020