Intro to Corporate Localization: The Materials
Part 2 of 3:
In part one of this mini blog series regarding tactics and practices in corporate localization we discussed "The Blueprint" for constructing your team (processes, systems, and tools). This second piece focuses on translation assets: The Materials.
It may seem a bit cliché to stress the importance of translation assets when aspiring to develop a dynamic and fast maturing localization program. However it is still a simple proven fact, that solid translation assets are the basis of a quality l10n program. Translation assets are comprised of the following:
- Style guides
- Translation Memories (TMs)
For the purposes of this blog, we assume that the reader is familiar with the definition of each asset and has a working knowledge of how these are used in localization. For more information on the basics of translation assets, the GALA Resources section is a great place to start.
Specifically we will elaborate on how to best leverage these materials within the organization. We will hone in on why each of these assets is uniquely positioned to define different aspects of a localization program.
Style Guide – “Rules of the Game”
The creation of the style guide is a very productive process not only for localization, but also for its stakeholders, particularly marketing teams. It often identifies the absence of a style guide for the source content, which is always the best place to start! Once a style of voice is understood (which should resonate brand voice), then you can look at other markets.
Formulating a style guide for each locale, creates the opportunity to discover and understand the customers in each target market. It pushes teams to dig into target market data in depth in order to paint a picture of the local customer. The biggest threat to style guides is complacency, failure to keep them current. If data shows changes in local customer behavior and preferences, style guides should be adjusted and the updates should be made public.
A style guide can be the difference between content that falls flat and seems like a translation and content that resonates with the audience.
Terminology – “Pain Reliever”
Terminology is a giant time saver and frustration reliever… AFTER it’s been created! Its creation is not a fun process but to be effective it should include key stakeholders, which makes the task even harder.
Terminology extraction is often a good idea, although it’s not all-encompassing. Specific terminology will require a bit more hunting and vetting. Key stakeholders will try to avoid the task, but the process will have great educational value for all involved but importantly is a foundation stone of solid quality practices; without a solid terminology system you will have inconsistencies in your translations.
Not surprisingly, terminology needs consistent updating and a process for managing it. Luckily this task is facilitated by most CAT tools.
Translation Memories (TMs) – “Secret Weapon”
TMs are built naturally over time so there is no creation process that involves other stakeholders directly. Beyond the many translation related benefits of TMs, the best approach is to use them as leverage within the organization. Liberate the content team from worrying about updating translations for edits of existing content. Just submit it all, TMs will take care of the rest at no extra cost!
Dazzle with faster TAT and TTM (Time to Market). Advocate for increased content re-use. Showing match leveraging and resulting cost savings is always a crowd pleaser. Greatest risk to TMs is to let them continue to grow organically, without ever paying them much attention. Some effort should be put into routine ‘’cleaning”, such as ensuring there are no Terminology conflicts in existing TMs, in-context exact matches containing errors, multiple translations of same source with no indication of preference.
Benefits of Asset Development
Going through the process of sourcing and laying down these materials creates a strong foundation for any localization program. It also offers unexpected fringe benefits:
- Offers countless opportunities to educate an organization just venturing in the world of localization about best practices and potential to increase capacity and automation.
- Collaboration with internal departments to create and vet the assets enables localization teams to gain a better understanding of others’ internal processes and existing localization pain points.
- Sharing best practices and discussing improvements to the status-quo is a great way to showcase all the opportunities and benefits that result from a solid localization program. This greatly increases visibility of the function within the organization.
In conclusion, it is certainly possible to set up a localization program without translation assets in place. Most likely, their absence will become apparent in the early stages, when the building start sinking at the start of construction of the second floor or even earlier if the area is hit by flood waters!
In this scenario sourcing and laying the materials will happen in an emergency setting, exposing the organization to the risk of cracks in the foundation.
If on the other hand a solid foundation is in place, it will be easy to ensure proper maintenance and guarantee stability throughout the life of the program. No laziness allowed when it comes to maintenance!
Next up! The Contractor—language supplier selection (Read Here).