Intro to Corporate Localization: The Blueprint
Part 1 of 3:
In this introductory mini blog-series we will explore three fundamental factors that you can leverage to build a solid foundation for your corporate localization program. We'll explore the dimensions across three blogs.
If you are building a house, every amount of investment in expensive materials and fancy design is futile, without a solid foundation. The same is true in localization. Laying down a solid foundation will ensure stability and sustainability throughout the life of your program.
The foundation can be broken down into three key elements, which we’ll look at in turn.
- The Blueprint – Process, systems and tools
- The Materials – Translations assets
- The Contractor – Language supplier selection
This first piece focuses on process, systems and tools: The Blueprint.
Modern organizations have lived through, or are the product of, the digital revolution. They have adapted the way they communicate with customers, through a variety of media. The shift to digital content and new media has been significant and rapid. Paradoxically, companies often don’t recognize the impact these huge changes have had on the traditional translation cycle.
Here are just some of the major factors that have changed the translation model in the digital era. This is now a typical scenario facing a new localization program:
- Shift to more and more digital content
- Ballooning of volume of published content
- Variety of media used to reach customers
- Increased speed in which this content is published
- The narrowing of the window of opportunity making timing crucial
- Array of new systems to manage and deploy content
- Globalization of business—ability to easily reach and service customers in markets all over the world
The goal is to deliver more content, faster, through various mediums, digitally in more languages in order to service more customers in local markets globally—now. In practical terms this means that the translation model requires integration with content management and delivery systems, automation of tasks for faster turn around, systematic quality control and greater access to metrics to measure and perfect processes.
Getting back to our foundation, laying the ground-work for this eco system necessitates a set of appropriate processes, and tools. One logical approach is creating a blueprint by following the content journey from inception through deployment in a feedback loop that runs back to the top of the funnel.
The plan must ensure that the product (content) flows smoothly, safely and preferably rapidly through the supply chain. Break it down into individual tasks, and realize that there are many steps involved in this process, all requiring coordination and communication between several stakeholders.
In general terms, a standard process would include a series of steps, all involving tools to support the supply chain.
- Translation requests – Submission of content can happen manually, directly from other systems, or in advanced implementation, by automatic detection. A language provider can at a minimum provide a portal for submission and receipt of content. More mature tools will also be able to integrate with internal systems and possibly enable automatic detection.
- File management – Content is stored in a variety of file formats depending on its end use. Printed materials, software development, website, mobile, social media are just some of end use of content and each requires a different file format. A translation management system (TMS), whether internal or provided by the language provider, can handle most file formats and will process source content so that the code is safeguarded in the translated version.
- Workflow management – Translations normally include multiple steps, (eg. translation and proofreading) each completed by a different resource. Resources can be in-house translators, freelancers or vendors or a combination of the three. When working exclusively with an LSP, they will cover many of the workflow steps. As localization needs expand, a more sophisticated workflow management tool should be considered.
- Translation management – Translation, proofreading and QA continue to be the core steps in the translation process. Translators and editors use CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation) to consult Terminologies and record translations in translation memories (TMs). CAT tools are used to manage our most precious Translation Assets (we will focus on these in the blog dedicated to Materials). CAT tools also include processes to review and control the quality of the translation. Organizations that include internal reviewers in the process may be able to on-board them in the language provider’s translation management system (TMS). Larger programs may require an internal TMS.
- Translation delivery and deployment – Generally this process shadows the submission process using the same tools.
- Metrics – Operational metrics about volume, turn around times, cost, quality metrics are recorded and should be available through a TMS or a combination of a project management and a CAT tool. Metrics related to business goals about target customer and target market need to be sourced from other internal departments. Business intelligence, data analytics or reporting departments are the best place to start. Marketing is another good source of metrics.
- Automation – Faced with the reality of shrinking time to market and a ballooning of volume, automation should be actively pursued from the very beginning. At the most basic level this means doing an audit of the process and eliminating manual tasks wherever possible and however trivial they may appear. At the most advanced level, automation and process efficiency can be achieved through connecting a TMS directly with internal content management systems (CMS). Nowadays CMS come in many forms including traditional web CMS, product information management (PIM), marketing automation software, customer service systems etc.
- Communication – Every step in the process involves communication with various stakeholders each needing to be updated about different steps. In order to make the process transparent to all involved, it’s recommended to use tools that automatically track the various phases of the project and its workflow. Open the tools to the people who should have visibility on the progress, and minimize managing communication through email.
Given the intricate network of cross-functional processes, tools and systems, it is a huge advantage to be able to rely on solid Materials and a trusted and competent Contractor, which we will discuss in the next blogs in the mini series. Your Blueprint is the roadmap explaining how to put all these key components together—and in what order—to build the foundation for a scalable quality localization program that will deliver results over the long term.
Next up! The Materials—translation assets. (Read here)