When it comes to localization, it’s important to have a plan - and someone to lead the way. Even the best localization teams won’t excel without strong management. From building the initial team, to choosing the right software, there’s a lot involved.
We’ll look at what localization management involves, some common challenges, and provide some insights on how to succeed.
As you know, localization is the process of adapting something - a product, website, marketing campaign, etc - to a different region. Localization management covers how exactly you organize that process.
It covers everything from finding the right people, the right tools, and deciding on the correct project scope. It also takes into account the ongoing monitoring and improvement of the process. Ideally, a manager should be experienced in both localization and project management, or have access to consultants or other staff members who are.
One way you can build a localization management function is in-house. This is a useful approach if you plan on targeting a variety of regions, and are likely to repeat the process multiple times. To do this, you need to find the right people.
While these roles will vary depending on the size of your project (and your business), what technology you have available, and the budget you’re provided, some key roles include:
As we mentioned, one of the key aspects of localization management is planning the project. Some major decisions you’ll need to consider include:
The alternative to building an in-house team is to use localization management services. These can be a great solution, either for the entire process, or for part of it, as long as you understand how best to use them. The best use cases include:
As with any project, there are challenges. Some are specific localization challenges, while others are more general, but they can all cause delays and setbacks.
It’s easy for localization projects to get out of hand. What starts as simply translating a landing page can end up with a complete overhaul if you’re not careful. It can also be tempting to see successes happen in one market, and want to jump into the next one without taking a step back to consider.
Decide on exactly which content, services, or products are being localized in advance. This should be based on market research, and can ensure you focus on high-impact aspects.
It’s difficult to assess if you’re succeeding if you don’t have specific goals in mind. This can also contribute to scope creep, as it’s hard to know when you’re finished if you don’t know what you’re aiming for.
Highlight some specific KPIs to monitor. Additionally, if there are specific points you want to hit - for instance, ‘have five pages of content localized by the end of the week’ - these should be communicated clearly.
With so many roles involved, communication can be tricky - a localization manager needs to ensure their translators, QA, developers, marketers, and more, are all on the same page. This gets even more complicated if you add in a third party.
Invest in communication solutions to make collaboration easy, and agree on a meeting schedule with the localization manager to keep up to date. When it comes to localization vendor management, ensure there is a single point of contact on both sides to avoid any miscommunication.
Localization can get expensive fast. Whether it’s hiring new staff, investing in new software, or hiring a native speaker for QA, there’s a lot of potential expenses. Having a limited budget can make localization harder, as you simply might not have the resources to achieve what you want.
Have realistic expectations about what’s achievable. That might mean only targeting one new region, or choosing a country that shares a language you already use. Remember, while outsourcing can seem expensive upfront, it does mean you can budget accurately in advance.
Localization needs talent across a wide range of skill sets. While it'd be great if a developer was fluent in the language of a target territory, it’s unlikely - and not useful when you move on to the next region. Localization managers may find there’s simply not the talent available internally.
This is where outsourcing to localization services really shines. Agencies will already have the right skills available, so rather than go through a lengthy hiring process, it’s worth considering a third-party instead.
What happens if things don’t go exactly to plan? Whether it’s workers leaving, technology failing, or a global event making a market inaccessible, there are a lot of potential risks. If the pieces of the puzzle don’t fall into place, delays and budget inflation are inevitable.
A competent project manager is key here - they should be able to come up with solutions on the fly. More importantly, you need a process with built in contingencies. During the planning stages, make sure you have plans in place for all common risks.
There’s a lot of technology available that can help with localization management. Whether it’s increasing efficiency, or helping with usability testing, localization management software is a powerful tool. Some main examples to consider include:
A consistent approach to terminology helps to reinforce branding. Localization software offers the ability to create a database of terms. This ensures brand consistency, as well as boosting productivity.
Similar to term bases, many localization tools allow you to build a library of previous translations. This is a great time-saver, as your team doesn't have to translate things from scratch every time.
The best thing about translation memory is that it improves over time. The more your team uses the platform, the larger the library of phrases that become available.
With so many different processes involved, localization managers can really benefit from workflow management software. They provide visibility over the whole team, allowing a high level of oversight without needing to micromanage.
Localization management is only possible if you’ve got access to the right data. It’s key to avoiding common challenges, as well as keeping projects on budget and on schedule.
When you use a localization management platform, you have access to a range of reporting - from understanding which stage each aspect of the project is up to, to being able to spot any potential disruptions in advance.
Some platforms allow you to integrate machine translators, and your developers can take advantage of API access to integrate with a variety of applications.
While machine translation is the quickest way to translate content, it’s important to use it in combination with human translators and a QA team in order to ensure accuracy and a consistent tone. The combination of the two can make for fast, high-quality localization
As we’ve discussed, localization management can be a challenge but there are many ways to succeed. One of these methods is to pick the right partner. At Global App Testing, we can provide expert insight, access to QA teams worldwide, and more - helping you to create the best localization project possible.