Agile development is, by definition, fast and iterative. To keep it that way, you need optimized processes. Localization should be an integral process from early on in development or it will be cumbersome to introduce later. Localization is also an intricate process with a number of steps that can be optimized. Here are some tips to help you set up a sustainable agile localization workflow early on.
6 Tips for Optimizing Agile Localization Workflow
1. Align your teams and systems.
To function quickly, your systems have to work in unison, predictably, and without unnecessary steps—and the same goes for your teams. This overall alignment is all the more important when you’re breaking into localization. It’s not enough for one person to know how to do all the stuff exceptionally well. Eventually, they won’t be able to carry all of that responsibility, especially when your company expands and your operations scale. If that key person left, there would be chaos.
Often, developers aren’t thinking about localization when they create their files, and then the localization team has to write pre- and post-processing scripts to deal with the messiness of the string files setup. Two teams may be using YAML files, for example, but may have two different versions of it. There has to be one schema for the translation system to read it and pull out what’s translatable. File parsing is customizable but only when it is regular and systematic. These are the types of localization management details that should be worked out in advance. Now is the time to align your teams and your systems to take full advantage of the collaboration and centralization.
2. Write a clear service level agreement with your LSP.
You don’t want to have to approve every project in the pipeline. That’s not agile. It’s agile if it just flows and no one has to really manage it. But you do have to work out with your vendor—in advance—how much you will be spending so there aren’t any surprises. Then, your vendor has to have a transparent way of tracking spending in the localization management platform so you can be confident that you know everything that’s going on. Otherwise, you can end up spending big money without the highest return. The developers likely aren’t thinking about that, but someone has to.
3. Develop a system for constructive feedback.
Take an agile approach to feedback as well. The moving pieces in your localization engine are highly complex, but it’s possible to ensure that everything is working smoothly and supporting the surrounding gears and mechanisms. In other words, when linguists and editors and reviewers and other stakeholders know when and how to provide actionable feedback, they will be keeping everything running as smoothly as it can be. But you can’t forget to also integrate consistent processes for updates to your translation memories and other linguistic assets that the team depends on to maintain consistency and efficiency.
4. Facilitate agile updates.
You need to have a policy on what to do in the time before you’re ready to release of newly localized content and updates. How you handle this overlap may depend on the language involved—using the English text as a placeholder may work well in Sweden, for example, but less so in China, where you might put a machine translation in that spot temporarily. It is important that all internal and external team members understand and are committed to the policy so they can take responsibility for their part in quality management.
5. Establish the right cycle for your organization.
Some vendors outsource translations to other vendors that then hire and manage translators, introducing one more layer of potential barriers to an agile workflow. Worse still, you may not even be aware that your vendor is a middleman in the translation workflow. Ideally, your primary vendor is the one hiring the translators—with sufficient transparency and accountability. They have much more control over translators’ deadlines and can troubleshoot issues in real-time. When this is the case, you can develop schedules and best practices together, confident that things are going to flow without disruptions or problems with timing and quality.
6. Get everyone on board with an agile communications system.
Agile communication comes part and parcel with radical transparency—the ability to clearly see your projects in a localization management platform and engage with stakeholders involved in the workflow. This is the same approach to transparency that allows you to track spending, spot bottlenecks, and otherwise gain insights to optimize your workflow. Agile communication offers a direct connection with the person who can answer your question—without an intermediary or having to send it to an email address that may not be checked regularly.
Find a Partner That Facilitates Your Agile Localization
Your vendor plays a crucial role in an agile localization workflow. When a localization partner can provide a stable staff of translators and transparent automation for ease of management, you’re in a position to scale without compromising quality and market success around the world. Be ready to align all stakeholders who will have hands on your content and provide them with the assets and systems to maintain efficiency and consistency. But you don’t have to do it alone.
Bureau Works provides translation and localization services that include recruiting and managing translators and an automated, centralized platform with convenient API or CLI integration. Our staff of experts will work to optimize and maintain an agile localization workflow that’s scalable for your current and future growth. Contact our team to get started.
April 2, 2020