Localization Management: What It Is and Why It’s Needed

Targeting new markets requires great localization management. Learn about what it is, the challenges, and the best tools available to help.


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Localization Management: What it is and Why it’s Needed


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.


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What exactly is localization management?

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.

Building a localization management function in-house

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.

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Anatomy of a traditional localization team 

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:

  • Localization project manager. This person is key to keeping projects on course, to budget, and on time. They act as the main point of contact for all other members of the team, as well as company leadership.

  • Translators. You can either hire internally, outsource translation to third-party companies, or use freelancers on an ad-hoc basis. Which option you choose will depend on the volume of content and range of languages required.

  • Designers. Different regions will have different UX, color, and layout preferences. Additionally, it’s likely that translated content will take up different amounts of space. That’s why you need at least one member of the design team involved in the localization process.

  • Marketing. Marketing research - whether done internally or with an agency’s help - is key to understanding which markets will benefit from what localizations. And, once the project is well underway, they’ll be responsible for getting it to market.

  • Developers. Whether it’s applying localizations to websites and applications, or helping manage custom software solutions, having someone with technical skills is a must.

  • Quality assurance testers. Localization testing is key to a successful project. Having either a dedicated QA role or an ongoing contract with a QA agency ensures everything goes smoothly.


What decisions will your localization team member face?

As we mentioned, one of the key aspects of localization management is planning the project. Some major decisions you’ll need to consider include: 

  • Which markets/countries/languages are you targeting?
  • What content should be localized first?
  • How big is the budget?
  • Which - if any - parts of the process should be outsourced?
  • Is there any technological help available?

Localization management services – when to use them

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:


  • If you have no localization experience, and need some expert input
  • If you are a small business and don’t have the necessary skill sets within your team
  • If you’re a global enterprise, and are targeting multiple markets at once
  • If you don’t have access to any native speakers of the language you’re localizing in
  • If you’re on a tight schedule, and need a lot of resources very quickly
  • If it’s a one-off project, and you don’t want to invest in new staff or tools long-term


Key challenges in localization project management

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.


Scope creep

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.


Lack of clear goals

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.


Communication issues

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.


Limited budget

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.


Insufficient skill set

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. 


No risk management

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.


How localization management software can help

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:


Term bases

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.


Translation memory

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. 


Workflow management

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. 


In-depth reporting

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.  


Machine translation

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


Work with the best partner for localization project managers

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.