Let’s go beyond the obvious facts. For any localization team to achieve success, they need to construct a flawless message that resonates with your target market. They should be able to speak the local language, understand the culture, and know the preferences and nuances of each region they enter. What devices do they use? What are their preferred social media platforms and search engines? How do they like to pay for things and what types of influencers do they look up to? These are all questions your localization team will ask and answer before getting started on your project. They will then work tirelessly to ensure an optimal user experience that works perfectly in every language on all devices. They’ll carry out rigorous localization testing and linguistic testing. And they’ll know how to streamline their workflow and cut costs to boot!
The Dream (Localization) Team
So, let’s say you’ve got the skill sets, the dream localization team in place. You’ve got experienced marketers, talented developers, diligent linguistics, and meticulous proofreaders. The winning combination, right? Yes. But, if your localization team can’t communicate or collaborate, or get on the same page, your project is in trouble. If they can’t write content that’s easy to localize and don’t work together to cut costs and reduce time; you’re not making the most of your resources. So, before you get started on your localization project, here’s a checklist for you. Your localization team should be able to do these seven things.
Keep Human Error to a Minimum
Client requests, multiple documents, mock-ups, prototypes, screenshots. When you have a widely diverse and geographically dispersed team working in different time zones, the room for human error is considerable. And costly. A localization team just starting out may not have the process well-oiled yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great results or give your project to a rookie team. But, make sure that your localization team has filters in place for keeping human error to a minimum. These apply across the board of specialties. From your original content writers, translators, and proofreaders, to your developers and coders. One error in coding can leave your product looking broken. One lapse mistake while testing can cause compatibility issues. Not leaving enough space in website design can lead to longer languages breaking the parameters. It stands to reason; we’re humans, not machines. Translating volumes of texts from one language into several different ones. Taking care of the coding, images, and design, and coordinating projects… well, it can take its toll. There’s simply a wide margin for human error. That’s why it’s imperative for your localization team to use robust translation management software that can automate much of the process and keep human error to a minimum. So, if you ever hear the words “spreadsheet” and “email threads” bandied around, change your localization team at once! Or get them up to date. This is 2017, not 1997. Spreadsheets are yesterday’s news.
Automation is the Future
When your localization team uses translation management software, many repetitive processes are removed and manual work is kept to a minimum. This is not only great news for your bleary-eyed translators whose fingers are going numb. It’s great news for your end results as well. An accurate delivery faster. Automation in your translation management software will help your localization team to integrate new orders via an API. They can tag and update keys, recall important data and import and export locale files. The built-in translation memory allows for all content to be stored. So, your localization team can look up older versions with ease. They will also be spared from repeatedly writing out the same hard-to-use terms, thanks to a glossary with terms and terminology explained. What does all this mean? Bye-bye human error!
There’s no point having the leading marketers in your chosen country, the expert advice of a legal team, and native translators specialized in your field if they can’t all work together. If you aren’t fortunate enough to create some utopian-style theme park of a working facility, like Google, with everyone together on one campus, you have to face reality. Your localization team is going to be dispersed. They may be working from small offices, or down to a single translator or coder working from home. If they can’t effectively collaborate and communicate, your project is going to get nowhere fast. So, don’t overlook this key element to ensuring the success of your localization team. Imagine the worst-case scenario here. All your geographically dispersed localization team members are being emailed spreadsheets left and right. Developers are dispatching loads of isolated strings. They aren’t creating them in a way that makes sense. Your translators do the best they can without any context, or knowing if they’re translating a CTA, an H1, or simply a passage from the text. They don’t know they’re working with a limited character count. They have no context and are pretty much working on gut feeling and guesswork. Your developers have no idea what to do with the translated texts as they receive them. How to place the language on the website or app, or where to divide the strings. When anyone has a question, it gets emailed to a project manager who’s not on shift. They then send it to the person in question, another day is lost and your email threads and having a snowball effect. All because your localization team can’t collaborate easily. So, make sure you choose a translation management software that allows them to do this.
Translate Directly onto the Website
Now here’s something really key. Just imagine the time and hassle you could save for both translators and developers if your translators could just type directly onto the website in question! No more receiving documents or strings with no context. No more need to guess where the words need to go or the maximum character count. They can see the words going up as they go, and where they will sit on the software. Your project is greatly sped up and the accuracy increases as well. Everyone is happy because they’re collaborating easily. They can upload screenshots, tag members, and ask questions when in doubt. And they can see their work taking shape exactly how the end result will look. No more teaching complex coding to a specialist in Urdu translations, or the inner workings of a hard-to-grasp system. You can offer people with limited technical skills the chance to work easily and more effectively without having to decipher source code. Not only that, but they’ll be placing the text where it belongs for developers. So, you’ll get perfect translations in context that aren’t incorrectly divided or broken down. Your localization team will even have an in-context editor that lets them make edits in real-time as they go.
Work without Constant Supervision
This is kind of a no-brainer really. Even if we go back to the dark days before translation management software existed to smooth the passage of your localization team. You can’t have a project manager cracking the whip over every team member from Bangkok to Bangalore. But, localization projects, automated or not, still require a large amount of coordination. You need team members that you’re comfortable working with, who have a proven track record, and can work with limited supervision. The best way of doing this is through your translation management software. The right one will ensure that your localization team members are on the same page. That they know the amount of workflow that meets them each day. That they can assign and complete tasks assigned to them. And that their work can be progressed and tracked. Your translation management software will allow you to get a snapshot of the stage of any given project at any given time. This keeps all the back and forth around the world down to a minimum. You simply log in to the same system as your team members and can check at a glance the progress your localization team is making. Their workflow is optimized and your life is made easier when you get clients calling and asking how things are going. Or superior breathing down your neck who wants to know every last detail! When your localization team works in harmony and knows about tasks for the day ahead, any corrections needed, and about what other people are doing; they don’t need a physical project manager standing over them. They can get on and work optimally, independently, and with better results.
Recall Project Data Instantly
As you begin to roll out your website localization, software, or mobile app localization you’ll start to appreciate the enormity of the volume of work. And words! Whether your budget is small and you’re starting with a handful of languages, or you’re Coca-Cola, localizing down to Indian English and rare languages like Tok Pisin and Quechua. You’ll start building up a sizable body of localization work. And that can get pretty disorganized, pretty fast. As you start to build up more and more clients, the workload also increases. Now what happens when you need to make edits to one project, or a client asks you to recall their Nigerian French web localization that you did in 2016? If your localization team doesn’t have the ability to recall data instantly and easily, it’s going to take a long time. In fact, without a versatile search function built into your translation management software, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. And no one wants their top talent wasting time looking for the nigh impossible. So, make sure your team has access to a versatile search function that lets them recall information instantly. This will avoid delays, frustration, and keep everyone sane. It will also help you keep hold of your clients and improve your bottom line.
Take Client Orders Easily
Want to make more money out of your localization projects? No-brainer, right? Then taking on more client orders should be a simple and easy process, especially when it comes to repeat orders. Your localization team should be able to interact easily with third parties. This means that clients can simply place a new order directly into the software. Everything from start to finish can be managed by your localization team on a single platform. This will make moving from one language to another at the client’s pace and budget a breeze. New orders can be processed and integrated into the localization workflow in instants. When you have your clients and localization team coming together on one efficient platform, it’s like watching a perfectly performed rendition of Swan Lake.
Control Who Sees What
Getting your localization team on the same platform working harmoniously is a beautiful thing. But, there are certain things you may not want everyone to see. If your translation management system allows you to add a high number of users, that’s great. But, if you can’t restrict who sees what, that’s not so good. Just picture this. You have clients who can speak directly to your localization team members. Not the ones you want them to. They can easily lift the details of your best translators and cut out the middleman. You have salaried workers accessing how much money you’re making from clients, or seeing what other team members are making. You’re pretty much waiting for the next World War to break out! This is where your localization team needs to be able to control who sees what through extensive permission management. Not only will you avoid potentially awkward conversations about pay raises, but you’ll also make sure that no one is over-tasked or confused. Your French translators don’t need access to the Portuguese version. Your localization team working on a mobile app project doesn’t need to be distracted by another client’s multilingual website. Everyone sees what they should, on a need-to-know basis. Just ask James Bond. It’s the best way to avoid collateral damage.
Wrapping It Up
Having access to the best tools, technology, and translation management software won’t transform your workers into the dream localization team. Just as having all the right skill sets without harnessing their abilities won’t lead to a successful project. Getting it right is about making sure your ideal team works together on an ideal platform. Once you reach that happy place, there will be no looking back.