Agile Localization

Agile localization is a localization process based on the principles of agile development. It is based on software iterations rather than final content delivery. It consists of shorter release cycles, is more flexible, and quick in responding to change.

Agile localization makes translation part of the continuous development cycle instead of an extra step to take after the versions are ready for launch. This way, the internationalization of the source – as a previous step to localization – already takes place in the design phase.

What makes agile localization so popular?

Traditionally, companies would follow a waterfall approach that allows for up to two release cycles per year. With the technological advancements and speed in development of software, applications, products, and services, the pace has accelerated substantially.

This led to a variety of change propositions for traditionally run companies. One of those proposed changes is the agile approach. This approach has found wide adoption in the software industry, but is also more and more employed in businesses of other industries.

According to the agile manifesto, products and services, as well as their development, should be:

  • Focused on people and interactions with them,
  • Actually working,
  • Based on collaboration with customers, among staff, and between different departments,
  • Allowing for the ability to respond to change quickly.

Based on these principles, businesses started to adapt the agile approach for the localization process as well. Especially in the tech and software environment focusing on global expansion and reach, it makes sense to implement the localization into the development cycle.

Other industries have followed suit and agile localization quickly rises to become a standard for many industries. The differences, in practice, have an effect on a variety of tasks, people, and tools and lead to major advantages for localization as a whole.

Some of these advantages are the following:

  • Shorter release cycles,
  • Swift reaction to changes and adjustment,
  • Leveraging previous localization content for updates,
  • Cutting time and cost for localization,
  • Use of different localization tools that facilitate an agile localization approach,
  • Active and direct collaboration between developers, localization managers, and translators.

What does agile localization look like in practice?

Similarly to other agile approaches, agile localization is done in group stages, which are set apart by intervals called “scrums”. These scrums can also be broken down further into sprints.

Sprints are sessions where the involved staff works together to provide a solution to a very specific problem. After a sprint, a practicable solution should be found that can then be implemented. For localization, that means that the intervals follow specific steps within the localization process.

Here is an overview of the core steps for agile localization:

Each individual involved in the agile localization process should be clear on where to step in and which tasks to tackle. The use of a localization management tool designed to support agile localization allows for a great overview of all the intervals and timeframes connected to them.

What are the advantages of agile localization?

If an agile localization approach is adopted by suitable companies, it leads to an acceleration of the overall localization process and maintains high-quality standards, while reducing time and expenditure substantially.

The flexibility and readiness for quick changes within an automated environment help keep frustration levels low and forecasting turns into a more realistic process. Finally, it facilitates scalability and continuous product development in the long run.