Get Buy-in for Software Localization in 5 Key Steps

Getting buy-in for software localization in an organization takes hard work. Learn how to define a strong localization strategy and convince stakeholders in 5 key steps that localization is a worthwhile investment.

You’re fully aware of how crucial localization is for the global success of your software. You tweet about it. You bring it up in every team meeting. In fact, you’ve done everything short of going around in a sandwich board to get people to see the benefits of software localization.

So why is it so difficult for anyone higher up to share your enthusiasm or have the same perception? Why does the company management seem to look at it as a cost rather than an investment?

The answer is simple, yet not easy to achieve: Getting buy-in for software localization in an organization takes hard work. To get you there more quickly, here are 5 key steps to define a localization strategy and convince stakeholders that localization is a worthwhile investment.

Do your research

When outlining a localization strategy for your business, the first step is doing your due diligence: Estimate the market potential for your software product in various markets, and define a roadmap aligned with the company targets.

How will localization fit in and contribute to further growth? Which costs should you already factor into your budget? How much revenue is at stake when it comes to the various markets you want to target? This includes which languages need to be localized, and what local market requirements exist (e.g., legal aspects such as tax laws, or consumer preferences in terms of payment methods).

Another part of the process is researching your local competitors. What localization strategies have they implemented? How are they ensuring localization quality and outstanding user experience? Which companies have been successful with localization, and which ones have failed in their efforts?

If you want your case for localization to include some figures in terms of reach and impact on the customer experience (CX) in the target country, you might use tools like the Global CX calculator from CSA. This way, you can have a first estimate of the effort needed to access a new market and of the opportunity costs of not expanding your business.

Define a localization strategy that makes business sense

Now that you have done your research, you can use this information to refine your localization strategy and get into the nitty-gritty of how you will implement it:

For your strategy to make business sense, you need to consider how localization will affect the company’s bottom line, and how it fits into the company’s overall business strategy.

For example, to optimize costs and increase speed, you may want to consider implementing a localization platform that can automate processes such as quality assurance, translation memory creation and integration, and to a certain degree, translation itself.

These platforms allow you to concentrate and streamline all of your localization processes— from content translation to publication— in only one system. There are many solutions on the market, each with different features and integration options. Take the time to investigate the various file formats and tools that your team prefers working with, and consider how your localization platform needs to integrate with your CMS, CRM, internal workflows, etc.

Find advocates

Whatever your department is, chances are you’re not the only one interested, and you surely won’t be the only one involved in the internationalization and localization effort. You’ll likely be working with Sales, Product Marketing, UI/UX, and Customer Support, so getting their buy-in is crucial before going to the company’s executives asking for approval and funding.

Presenting the localization platform of your choice to your peers with a streamlined process that enables cross-functional communication, collaboration, and data exchange will surely help you in this endeavor.

Also, check if translation is already happening in isolation in different departments. Without consistent translations, i.e. without uniform terminology and tone of voice, your brand might experience harmful effects that could be difficult to recover from.

In addition, your localization endeavor might help the other teams reach their own goals: For instance, well-structured translation memories can help develop a multilingual chatbot, a valuable tool for international customer support.

Identify the key decision-makers

After convincing your peers, it’s important to move closer to the decision-makers. Usually, executives trust their finance group. That’s why, in order to have your plan approved, you’ll have to crunch some numbers to estimate the ROI of your localization strategy.

Moreover, it’s a good idea to let the Finance department help you fine-tune your management presentation. Let them explain to you the most important KPIs for the company so you can align with them. And don’t forget to underline the increase in efficiency thanks to your new localization platform, which almost pays for itself.

After this, you’re almost ready to go to the board.

Let money talk

A state-of-the-art strategy with well-documented forecasts in terms of reach and ROI for your localization efforts will surely be interesting for business executives.

You should also keep in mind one thing: rather than talking about price and costs, try to underline that it’s an investment. Show that localization, when done properly, can be a revenue enabler.

Moreover, stress the fact that localization is one of the megatrends of the 21st century: In the age of increasing digitalization, having a proper localization strategy is proving more and more crucial for businesses around the globe. Recent research shows that with the Covid-19 pandemic, 62% of business owners increased their localization spending to keep up with the global market. Try to leverage this trend in order to obtain financing for your project.

In addition, don’t forget to add some sense of urgency. The growing trend to localization means that competition on the market for digital products is getting harder. That’s why hesitating is not really an option. The gap with your competitors might be impossible to close, and the revenue from that market might be gone (almost) forever.

Last but not least, remember that it all comes down to the language you use. Choose the right words to present your strategy: a catchy, inspiring title will increase your chance of succeeding. For example, “establishing a global brand presence” sounds way better than “increasing spending for translations.

In a nutshell: Localization buy-in is easier with a solid business case

If you’re planning to launch your software product in new markets, a well-designed localization strategy is crucial. To convince business executives of software localization as a worthwhile investment, you’ll have to develop a compelling presentation where you outline localization as a revenue enabler rather than just another expense.

An essential tool on your belt for this is a state-of-the-art localization platform that allows you and the whole company to benefit from more efficient, agile, i.e. cost-saving processes compared to the traditional approach to localization.

Finally, your pioneer work could serve as a blueprint for other localization efforts in the company, establishing a more centralized best practice for the expansion to new markets—the first step in scaling globally.

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