Best Practices

Managing Software Localization for Global Business

.By outsourcing the beast that is localization, your team can apply their skills, knowledge, and time to critical strategy and product development—the underlying momentum for this wave of global expansion.
Gabriel Fairman
2 min
Table of Contents

There are two main ways of managing software localization for global business:→ You can organize your team’s workflow, make outlines of processes, hire language specialists, and create a system that will ensure high-quality, prompt localization for all software updates in all the markets you enter.

It will be a herculean task that will occupy your complete attention—not just for a one-off project but for your product’s long life.→ The alternative is to integrate with a system that is already operating and has been sharpened for maximum efficiency and transparency.

Instead of thinking about flowcharts for years and hunting people down to QA your adapted product in various languages, you can take advantage of automated processes and leave the translations and quality management to the localization experts.By outsourcing the beast that is localization, your team can apply their skills, knowledge, and time to critical strategy and product development—the underlying momentum for this wave of global expansion.

Why Outsource Your Software Localization Management?

What is at stake if you don’t turn projects over to the experts?

Even if you and your organization are gluttons for punishment, there are compelling reasons to outsource your localization. To be blunt, it would be foolhardy to think that you are going to build the whole engine of localization internally and be able to manage scalability, QA, and hiring. Language experts are hard to come by. When you hit the inevitable snag, you risk amplifying the problem:

  • Slowing down release dates. When you can’t maintain timely localization workflows—let alone scale for additional markets—or when localization efforts are not playing nicely with development efforts, you’re bound to miss launch dates, to feel the pressure throughout your organization, and to disappoint those waiting markets.
  • Doing work over again. It takes resources such as translation memories, term bases, and style guides for specialists to maintain consistent standards and terminology. For example, if you don’t diligently track approved translations, chances are good that linguists will end up retranslating words and phrases again and again. You lose out on opportunities for greater efficiency, consistency, and overall quality. You waste time and resources unnecessarily.
  • Damaging the brand. Quality issues—such as inconsistent terminology, poor translation, and cultural faux pas—can shape negative perceptions of your brand that will be hard to shake.
  • Legal issues. Certain markets likely have regulations concerning customer service, labeling, and other issues that you may not even be aware of. When you disregard liabilities, you put your whole company at risk, not just your foreign market potential.

What are the things experts know how to do—probably better than you do?

Besides averting mistakes and difficult situations, there are a lot of proactive things a localization expert can do. The concepts of streamlining, automating, and scaling may seem obvious, but how do you actually pull them off without the advantage of real experience managing software localization?

  • Streamlining. The ability to centralize resources and efforts is a huge benefit. When all stakeholders are on a single platform, they form a transparent, highly efficient ecosystem that encourages collaboration, ensures the updating of reference material, and allows managers to follow every step of a project easily.
  • Automation. Sometimes email chains remind us of the old joke about changing a light bulb—how many messages from how many people does it take to get a piece of content approved in how many days? Localization holds the potential for effective automation. API integrations (or better yet, APIs bundled into CLI commands) form end-to-end chains of command to reliably navigate the content translation pipeline. AI can even match your projects with the most-qualified linguists, eliminating the need for time-consuming project management. Humans get involved for specialized content attention and problem-solving, not electronic pencil-pushing.
  • Scalability. Once you have your assets and personnel in place on your platform, it manages your ecosystem impeccably. Your workflow can be customized to your specific needs, and then it will expand to embrace more translators and experts as needed. In other words, this system scales to support more languages around the world. That is—as long as you outsource to a localization partner that supplies highly qualified linguists and editors who are ready to embrace your brand and adapt your product tactfully for new local audiences. Ideally, you would work with a localization platform that has already embedded translation services so you can drive end-to-end efficiencies. Cool automation technology is nice but fails if you need to supply the translators yourself.

What Is the Right Kind of Localization Partner?

Once you’ve decided to outsource your localization tasks, the question becomes one of finding the right localization service provider for you.

There are plenty to choose from, but that doesn’t make your search any easier.Let’s look first at what you do not want. Wrangling linguists isn’t easy, and it’s also not enough to get the job done. That’s what the typical translation agency does.

If they are doing the same things you would do if you had more time, they are not adding value. In fact, it would probably be more economical to hire an assistant. You’d likely get more responsiveness and accountability that way too.But let’s look at a more practical model.

Dedicated experts can balance your automated and manual tasks to give you measurable results with full accountability. Transparency is a big part of this super-efficient model. You want to see the work being done, track its progress, know who did what—and all without having to put in requests for evidence at multiple junctures and wait to hear back.

An automated, centralized platform gives you that capability, and it also allows linguists and editors to contact you or each other for clarification and details without long waits or convoluted pathways. This centralized ecosystem adds to the quality of the translations and strengthens your partnership overall.

If a localization vendor is doing the same things you would do if you had more time, they are not adding value.A centralized platform ecosystem managing your software localization, adding to the quality of your translations and strengthening your localization ROI will make outsourcing worth while.

Managing Software Localization for Global Business Is Someone Else’s Job

There are a lot of reasons to love experts. The most obvious is that they do a good job. Instead of venturing into a completely new field and reinventing the wheel by trial and error as you go, you can devote your time to developing your product and working on the high-level issues—the issues that make the most of your unique knowledge and insight.

Let the localization experts take care of the day-to-day localization operations to which they are uniquely suited.

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Gabriel Fairman
Founder and CEO of Bureau Works, Gabriel Fairman is the father of three and a technologist at heart. Raised in a family that spoke three languages and having picked up another three over the course of his life, he has always been fascinated with the role language plays in identity and the creation of meaning. Gabriel loves to cook, play the guitar, tennis, soccer, and ski. As far as work goes, he enjoys being at the forefront of innovation and mobilizing people and teams together toward a mission. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Gabriel was honored with the 2023 Innovator of the Year Award at LocWorld Silicon Valley.
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