There are far more ways to get it wrong than there are ways to get it right when launching a localized product overseas. So, statistically speaking, you’re more likely to land on the wrong side of the equation.
We have worked with countless enterprises that have come to us for help AFTER a global launch misfire. And in all cases, we can point to what the companies did wrong. More often than not, it was a lack of planning, and these foundational mistakes can trigger a cascade of problems. A lot of companies think, Oh, we’ll figure that out later, without realizing how the lack of preparation can end up being more costly down the road. That’s why the time you spend developing your product globalization strategy is so critical.
In fact, beyond just avoiding issues along the way, your systems have to be strong and smart and flexible enough to scale with your company’s progress. It’s not enough for your strategy to be ready for a first-round adaptation of your product; the ecosystem itself needs to be ready to adapt for future growth, evolution, and world domination. And that includes your translation management tools, your linguistic assets, your translators, your editors, your reviewers, your developers, and your product. You need an ongoing commitment from everyone involved to be a part of the solution.
Get Serious About Your Product Globalization Strategy
The boss is the money. If you’re not on the edge of your seat, listening to a localization expert, we know, at least, you’ll listen to your investors. They want it all done quickly so you can launch and start profiting from wealthy new markets. But read between the lines: they also want it done right.
Failing at launch or failing a year after a successful launch because you inadvertently squandered your resources is still failure. The systems you invest in now can set you up for sustainable success. So, how should you go about strategizing for product globalization and localization?
Align Your Team
The goal here is to align your team, not your teams. When it comes time for localization, we have to stress how important it is for everyone to be on the same page and working toward the same goals. The right hand might know what he is doing, and the left hand might know exactly what she is doing, but if they don’t know what each other is doing— Well, you end up investing resources to reinvent the wheel, and you miss golden opportunities to share knowledge and progress.
It’s true that everyone should be a leader for their own area of expertise, but that should go hand-in-hand with collaboration toward shared goalposts. The fate of product globalization rests on so many shoulders, and if those individuals aren’t in sync and their shoulders deviate, the product falls. And it may be prohibitively complicated to reassemble the splinters. So, you have to get everyone’s buy-in from the start. That includes developers and other creatives. Everyone involved should understand how their responsibilities contribute to the whole. A developer’s small choices for defining variables can have a huge impact on a translator’s ability to adapt a string for the best user experience—which is what matters in the end. All around, best practices need to be systematized to support the whole.
Commit to Preparation
For a system of localization to be successful and sustainable over the long term, you can’t skimp on the strategy and preparation. You need to have a clear understanding upfront of the various players on your localization team, the various types of content that will be flowing through your system, and the style and terminology guidelines that will preserve your brand and product integrity as you break into new languages and markets.
In fact, this is also the best time to work on aligning your team and identifying those goals that will guide each action along the localization workflow. The initial phase of product globalization tends to be very engineer focused and fast moving. But you need to anticipate that the engineers will eventually be handing off their creations to a localization team that may not have engineering experience. That hand-off needs to be handled strategically so that the players who will be knee-deep in the system’s process understand, from the inside out, the architecture of your solution. Don’t cut corners during these knowledge transfers.
Identify Your Sources of Authority
Another cohort you need to dial in to your best practices will be the reviewers who contribute to quality management. You need to think carefully about who will be the authority in your company. Because the language on the user’s screen is essentially your product, we can’t underestimate how critical are language adaptation and quality. Yes, your back-end code needs to be seamless, but that is not really what the user sees. The language is what really characterizes the user experience, and you need trusted insiders to be the gatekeepers of that experience.
During your planning stages, develop a clear set of expectations and a system of tracking so that you can lean on the data for evolving content quality. Commitment to standardization is what will empower reviewers to be consistent in their actionable feedback—and to ensure consistency in the end content.
Take Responsibility for Translators’ Success
As complex as this ecosystem will be, your early commitment to product globalization strategy allows you to proactively manage everyone’s contributions, including the translators’. Sure, it’s important to approach the translator search carefully, but it’s even more important to set all of your translators up for success from the beginning. Even the best translator won’t produce exactly what you want if you haven’t given them the necessary resources to do so.
Be ready to sit down and demo your software for each translator. Click through everything in the product to illustrate the user experience so that they have complete context for what they are translating and why. Likewise, your developers need to be looking out for the translators too. UX context is one thing, but translators also need very clear details about all of the minute variables they’ll be handling among the content strings. Developers need to be naming placeholders in ways that translators can understand—and with an understanding of the nuances of translation.
Get Serious About Sustainable Localization Success
This brings us full-circle to the issue of team alignment. Your developers need to take responsibility for discerning internationalization; they need to understand their part in supporting the translators’ success. Translators, editors, and reviewers need to have a strong collaborative approach in order to expand efficiencies and overall product quality. Creativity is no excuse for neglecting to support teammates’ success since the end goals really are the same.
Remember that the boss is the money. And the money wants you to do it right, to do it efficiently, and to set yourself up for long-term success. But what’s money-driven on the outside is actually more sensitive and more human on the inside. In practice, you’re assigning your team to be proactive advocates for each other and contributors to the interdependent ecosystem. Product globalization is much more about the people—the end users, translators, engineers and developers, reviewers, editors, and managers—than it is about the product. The people make global growth possible; and they also create the obstacles that prevent it. Commit to your product globalization strategy now, and secure your path to expansion without boundaries.
It is as complicated as it sounds, but once you dig your teeth into the strategy and the system, it all becomes much more digestible. Bureau Works specializes in mobilizing all team players for localization and gathering them in one centralized platform to share knowledge and to streamline workflows. Contact our team to get an idea of how the BWX technologies and translators can reinforce your product globalization strategy.