Translation and localization project management can be cumbersome and disorganized, with a lot of effort spent and no assurance that work is being done efficiently—or done well. Alternatively, localization management can be streamlined, optimized, and transparent. Ideally, you would be able to watch the progress of individual projects while working on higher-level challenges, making the best possible contribution to your organization. The difference is in how you approach the planning from this point forward.
Your Translation and Localization Project Management Best Practices
Here are some best practices that help make translation and localization project management effective:
1. Build relationships and think outside the bubble
Localization tends to be an afterthought in the modern business world. Once your organization is ready to start, you may have to scramble to get the critical localization strategy and content ecosystem mapped out. It can be tempting to retreat to some corner room and labor away in an effort to just get it done, but resist that temptation. You need to build relationships with the people who have their hands on the content; they’re part of your extended team. Work to expand relationships with senior management so they know that globalization and localization are a critical part of the business’s mission and not just an add-on. Another vital relationship to foster is with a localization partner who is ready to jump in and pursue your company’s goals with you.
2. Turn yourself into a cost-saving center
It takes careful consideration to identify the content that will bring the most value in a new market. In other words, rather than jumping to translate everything, you’ll want to be selective about the highest-value localization of product modules, website content, instructional content, support content, blog content, or training content, etc. Along the way, check in with marketers to ensure that your content adaptations are useful. You don’t want to be wasting resources to translate things very few people are using. Find out what kind of feedback is coming from clients about the content. If the marketing team is getting good value, it’s a sign you are operating with cost efficiency.
Localization managers can have a real impact on spending. They are in a position to see the entire stream of words the company produces. From this unique perspective, you can identify opportunities for streamlining processes and redirecting inefficient spending. A centralized, automated platform maximizes efficiency, transparency, and accountability. It can clearly differentiate streams of content, both in terms of subject matter and budget allocation.
3. Be tech savvy
To be a great translation and localization manager, you have to be an internationalization manager, too, and put in the hard work to gain a deep understanding of how content is transmitted from one system to another. The days of emailing Word files and Excel spreadsheets around are over. You need to know about JSON files and the details of how an API works: how the content gets to where it’s supposed to go for adaptation and back again.
If you would rather not handle those details, you need to have an expert partner with the critical perspective and preparation that localization depends on. Much of the file transferring can be automated, which saves your team members time and your company money. This requires an even higher level of technical knowledge, however.
4. Measure your work and your quality
An important part of management is measurement. Keeping track of the volume of work your team performs helps in maintaining cost effectiveness, as we have noted, and it is an important performance indicator for your team. Quality is the other big indicator because the overall quality of your localized projects will directly correlate to your success in various markets. The quality marker is particularly difficult to monitor unless you, yourself, speak all of the languages in question and have the capacity to carefully review every project. Someone needs to be able to catch issues before your launch—before your customers and competitors catch those issues.
It’s possible to track and monitor workflows, volume, and quality with an automated, centralized platform. With extensive data to drill into at any time along the content life cycle, you have real opportunities for timely problem solving. And you will save excessive time spent fixing things retroactively later on.
5. Build up assets and systems
The way to guarantee quality is to own your own localization resources that you can continue to build on with each new content adaptation and iteration. Terminology is a living, evolving asset within your ecosystem. There has to be a way to manage it on an ongoing basis, and your primary team needs to be an integral part of building that terminology from the start.
You need reliable and centralized methods of asset control. Vendors may have translation memories to support your localization projects, but if you don’t have access to them, it’s not any reassurance. Those TMs should be yours to leverage, and they should go a long way to save time and resources on future translations.
6. Set expectations
It’s not enough to be a passive recipient of content. You need to set clear expectations and hold your internal and external team members accountable. Don’t take for granted that your partners are ready for or that they are committed to your highest standards. Have early conversations about the tenets of successful localization:
Transparency: Knowing who is doing your translations and what their qualifications are. Being able to track progress and fix problems all along the way. Having open and cooperative workflows with a localization partner and visible, accessible assets.
Accountability: Having expectations clearly set and met. Trusting that stakeholders will be proactive problem-solvers and committed to the ultimate goal of local market engagement.
Proactive Asset Management: Maintaining translation memories, term bases, style guides—including updating them when expectations change or when new market needs are uncovered. Making these assets available to everyone who handles your content anywhere along the pipeline.
Quality Management: Holding all players to your clear quality standards, especially since they have access to the tools and assets they need for success. Wrapping quality assurance into your automated platform for reliable tracking of all actions and the best possible opportunities for troubleshooting on every level.
7. Find valuable KPIs
Identify your most valuable key performance indicators. Are there ways that you can measure revenue streaming from different countries that could be a result of having localized content? Will you be able to measure pre-localization and post-localization success for each particular market? Can you measure on-time releases? Saving money is not a good KPI unless it is accompanied by good service and return.
In general, looking for KPIs is a good exercise to encourage innovation. Too often managers are in job-saving mode. You’re not doing yourself any favors by streamlining localization resources because you’re not paving your own pathways for growth. You’re not doing your company any favors either when there is so much to gain from automation and centralization that frees your team members up for truly creative tasks. Be willing to work yourself out of a job to prove your worth in another position where you can make even more meaningful contributions.
Partner with Experts for Effective Management
A centralized, automated localization platform can improve workflow and translation quality immensely. But you don’t want to have to create one yourself; it would be an all-consuming task far into your future, and it would eat up extensive resources unnecessarily. Translation and localization managers who are on the cutting edge will partner with a top language service provider (LSP), one of the most valuable assets for project management success. Localization managers have plenty of concerns they need to stay on top of without spending time on administrative tasks, and a good localization partner will do it better than you can in any case.
Bureau Works’ automated localization platform provides transparent management support, as well as asset management capabilities and support for translators, editors, and other stakeholders. CLI/API integration maximizes the system’s convenience and efficiency. Contact our team today to find out more about how we can contribute to the success of your localization journey.
Written by Luciana Passos
Luciana is Bureau Work’s COO. She is known as a gap bridger and a heart follower.