While we don’t want to overwhelm you, we do want you to be aware of and prepared for the complexities of the localization process. Some basic steps that you can take now will make a world of difference when it comes time to release your product around the world.
Read more about the range of planning steps as you approach globalization
One of those steps is to fortify your terminology management because your translation will be only as good as your company’s own grasp on the words. Terminology management tools can empower your localization team with centralized assets for greater clarity, consistency, and accountability—if you choose the right tool. But for even the best terminology tool to work well, you have to take the time to organize your own thinking around terminology.
How Should You Be Preparing for Terminology Management?
While, at first, it might seem like redundant busywork, one of the most important things you can do to set yourselves up for success with localization is to do a thorough analysis of your product and your brand to pull out keywords that are important. Before you get into the development of your linguistic assets or start using any terminology management tools, you need to be mobilizing your teams to make words a priority.
When you can build the foundation for this source of truth, your translators will actually have a leg to stand on. It’s time to pull your branding team aside to generate lists of key words and phrases that are fundamental to what your company is doing now. It’s a common exercise for marketing campaigns, so it shouldn’t be entirely foreign. Likewise, visit your UI designer to gather a list of prominent words that make your product work and that make your product unique. What are the calls to action your teams have identified? What are the exact words that are going to prompt someone to click on the critical button? Your developers have already thought about this at length. And these are valuable details as you’re lining up your resources for localization too. You need all of your employees to be aligned with those words that truly represent your company culture, and you need everyone to be using those terms consistently.
What to Look for in Terminology Management Tools
That company soul-searching has to come first if any terminology tools are going to serve you faithfully. These tools will not be managing arbitrary details but the very color and flavor of your product.
So, we’ll state the obvious: Having a reliable partner that can steer you in the right direction as you prepare for localization is everything. As complicated as localization is, it’s not really that hard if you’re willing to take the time to make the important connections and build the relationships within your organization so everyone is committed to the same goal.
But, apart from an experienced and trustworthy partner, what should you be looking for when you’re actually shopping for terminology management tools?
Opt for the Metadata to Fortify Your Translations
Real terminology management tools that are worth your time will manage more than just the words. The tools that are going to support your long-term projects, scale with your growing markets, and evolve with your product are those that also manage vital metadata.
You can apply a critical eye to vendors’ options that typically fall somewhere along a hierarchy of features:
- Some tools will manage the words and translations only—just what’s on the surface
- Some tools will go beyond the translations to also manage definitions and parts of speech
- Then, consider that there is a range of tools in between that offer some additional management features but not others
- The ultimate terminology management tools will manage all of the following:
- The words in translation
- The parts of speech
- The gender—because it assumes that other languages may need this distinguishing element
- Usage examples so a translator will be able to view the project in context
- Clear instructions when a term should be translated in a certain way or when a term should never be translated
- An attached URL when visual references may help a linguist to better translate a term
You can see why those early steps to organize your terminology are so important when the right terminology management tool can provide so much essential support to linguists.
Look for Simple Management of Roles and Permissions
Because the treatment of words and translation is so fundamental to your product’s success, it matters who is involved in defining the parameters. Even an expert in localization can’t just drop in and determine which terms are most important and how those terms should be handled in translation. Only someone who knows your product, your brand, your culture, and your goals inside and out can really draw the lines that will help to ensure your long-term success.
You need to be able to proactively assign roles and permissions for everyone who will be operating within the system. You’ll define the role for content creators, for translators, for reviewers, for language managers, and for administrators. You need to thoughtfully identify who should be signing off on terms before they become an active part of your term bases and glossaries. The caliber of these assets will reflect the quality of your end translations.
Accept Nothing Less Than a Transparent Workflow
In order to maintain an agile workflow, each term needs to be able to move through the system independently even as those terms are tightly correlated within your centralized glossary architecture. Along with the roles defined above, your management tool should notify relevant stakeholders at specific junctures along a term’s life cycle. There is no reason to have to manually push these notifications when the system is robust enough to do so automatically. Then, no one has to wait for assignments to drop.
And the most sophisticated terminology management systems will be built on full transparency. With your diligent planning and with this comprehensive system, you can hope to have fewer problems, but problems will still arise. You need to be able to track those problems to their roots in order to address them and get your localization workflow back on track.
When a complaint comes in from a local user, for example, because a particular translation in Slovak comes off as offensive—with complete and transparent tracking, you can easily dig into the system to look at every single step in that translation process. You can see the names of the people who had their hands on it, what they did, and when they did it. You can identify whether the reviewer let a poor translation slide or whether they caught it but the language manager overrode the objection. It’s not exactly about finger-pointing, but it is about being able to work out the kinks effectively so they don’t become bigger dents in your operation.
Just like every aspect of this terminology management discussion, it matters most when you can assess the details in context. Why are people doing what they’re doing in your localization workflow? Do they know why? Why do certain words mean more for the success of your product in the source language and in translation? It’s a valuable opportunity you have to step back and assess what you already have to build on as you enter the localization realm. Any terminology management tool and any localization partnership will be made better because of your company’s self-awareness and ownership of its fundamental building blocks.
Try out this list of must-haves on Bureau Works. We can fill you in on all of the planning best practices that might not yet be on your radar. We won’t dilute the localization process, but we will help to make it much more accessible. Contact our team to learn more about our terminology management tools and our new generation automated localization platform.