Multilingual L10n in a Global SaaS Company: Interview with Pierre-Marie Gestas, Localization Manager at Prezi
How does the process of multilingual L10n run in a global SaaS company? What are the benefits and challenges of this process? Our Chief Business Development Officer Zana Čizmin recently talked with Pierre-Marie Gestas, Localization Manager at Prezi, who shared these and other information with us.
Can you tell us more about your working day and your tasks? What are the main challenges of being a localization manager?
As a localization manager, I mainly encounter two types of challenges. First, on a people management level, I am responsible for the growth of my team and I need to make sure they evolve in the best work environment and conditions possible. My second challenge is maintaining clear and effective workflows and processes between our team and the other departments of the company.
Prezi is our only client and every department (Product, Marketing, Content, Support, Sales) relies on us to get their content localized.
This means that there are as many processes as there are departments – and sub-departments. On a daily basis, I have to make sure that everyone is on the same page, we need to meet the speed and quality standards expected from us and we must stay within budget. I manage a team that is responsible for the worldwide localization of German, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Italian, and Hungarian. Plus, I am personally in charge of localization for the French speaking countries.
Could you describe the localization workflow in your company?
I would prefer to talk about workflows across the different departments in the company as we don’t always follow the same processes.
When working with the Product department, our team is involved at two different stages. First, we start collaborating at the design phase. For every feature, the user experience researchers send the final design to our team on the first day of the development cycle. This is where we get context. Then comes the development phase, where the QA Specialist runs the translation job so our team can provide the localized content. It takes approximately 48 hours or sometimes a bit less to be completed.
The feature then reaches the second development phase, the release candidate stage, where the localized content is implemented and our team performs a QA session and reports any bugs. Once we give the green light, the feature is released.
We also practice overall QA of the product on a regular basis to tackle anything that may have slipped through the cracks.
With the Marketing department, we are asked to localize a wide range of content, such as website landing pages, ebooks, email campaigns, and press releases. We localize pertinent content that is meant to reach all relevant geographies and customers.
We receive the final design and copy via our translation management system (TMS), or we create localization support based on this content. Then, we provide QA for the localized content after implementation and report any bugs before the release. The deadlines to get the localized content ready are mainly dictated by the release date set by the Marketing department.
We are also involved in geomarketing campaigns, where we help create specific content for a targeted region.
For the Customer departments (Support, Sales and Customer Success), we localize all the written support content, video tutorials, sales demos, and training material. For the support material, we work hand in hand with the copywriter and content creators on a daily basis to make sure the updated content is available to our customers as quickly as possible.
You also cooperate with external contractors – how do you define your cooperation, are there any particular challenges and what are your solutions?
We have a very direct relationship between our in-house language coordinators and the external contractors we work with. For each region, the language coordinator is responsible for the communication with his/her contractor and the management of their workload. For large, time-sensitive projects, the external contractors usually run the first batch of translations and the language coordinators review, and then QA the materials before implementation.
This two-level collaboration allows us to ensure good localization quality, especially since we have worked with the same external contractors for a long time and they are very familiar with our needs. This allows us to be consistent across the whole spectrum of projects.
How do you deal with tight deadlines and the pressure to deliver the final product on time?
It starts by having clear processes and regular feedback sessions with the stakeholders of every department. With regular communication, we ensure that urgent localization requests are the exception and not the norm.
Of course, we are a SaaS company and we iterate very quickly, and therefore we do have some last-minute requests. In these situations, it all comes down to a few things: the professionalism of the team, the passion for the product, and the trust in the company values and mission. Each localization coordinator feels responsible for Prezi’s success in their region and will work diligently to never miss a deadline.
Given the fact that Prezi is present globally, do you consider the localization process to be an essential part of your success?
Prezi is a global company and our mission as a company is to help people become better presenters and to change the way people communicate and share ideas. This mission cannot be limited to one region or country. We are making a difference because Prezi is unique. If we want Prezi’s spatial, interactive presentation approach to be understood and assimilated by all, localization is essential.
That said, we chose to start the localization of our product in 8 main languages (German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, and Hungarian), then divided those into two tiers based on the business potential and needs. Localizing for the sake of localizing would be a mistake, if you are not able to ensure the proper customer care and product development in those regions.
Localizing to a language means that your product should be ready to be used in that language, and that your company should be able to provide support agents, customer success managers, and sales representatives who speak that language. This is what it takes to leverage the full benefits of localizing your product in one language. If you fail in uniting those conditions, then your localization efforts will fail.
What is the composition of your in-house localization team?
Our in-house localization team is composed of native people from each region who have diverse backgrounds (from Marketing to Legal) and a passion for localization. Each team member shares common localization projects, as well as those specific to their respective regions. Stefan Blaschke is responsible for the DACH region, Nicole Chufi is responsible for Portuguese speaking regions as well as coordinating our Tier2 languages (Korean, Japanese, Hungarian, and Italian), and Raúl Durán Giro is in charge of the Spanish speaking countries.
Localization and technology: would you be able to “live without it”?
No. Technology is essential when you evolve in a fast-paced environment and when you have to ensure speed, quality, and consistency across the board. A good TMS in the cloud that’s linked with our engineering development platforms is the very base of success. We should not fear technology in localization – it removes unnecessary friction and allows localization professionals to focus on what really matters.
Was localization a helpful factor that made your product successful across global markets, or do you think it would not be possible at all without localization?
Localization is an essential piece of any globalization effort. Prezi is not an exception. Whenever we launch our platform in a particular language, the growth and interest in that region is massive and instantaneous.
As I said earlier, the success of Prezi also depends on how well its concepts are understood by the customers from the very beginning. To ensure clarity, to onboard people with the product, to convince people on the benefits and impact of our technology and way of doing things, you have to speak their language on all levels; technical, cultural, and emotional.
We want the world to better communicate, present, and share their ideas in an engaging and memorable way. To reach this, people should be able to use our product with their best communication tools, which are their language and culture. This is localization.
Please share the situations at your job for which you would use the hashtag #Ilovemyjob
There are plenty. The success of a marketing campaign; the successful release of a new feature; the positive feedback from customers; increased international traffic on our website, and the successful performance of our product in of our localized regions. But most of all, working within a team of extremely competent people that share the same goals and passion. We work for a company that carries great values and does everything for their employees to perform at their best and have a good work/life balance. It’s easy to come to work every day in these conditions.
Budapest – we are impressed by the city. You moved here from your native France, what are your impressions?
Budapest is a village hidden behind a capital. It is very easy to live here, and it has plenty to offer while also keeping this slow-paced lifestyle, family-centered kind of feeling. It does not take long to spread your roots and make it your own. It’s a great environment for those who love this blend of traditional and contemporary. Of course, France is and will always be my home country, and it’s always great to go back home.