Ian Henderson

Ian Henderson
June 3, 2019
AdobeStock_233564313-1280x853.jpeg

As beneficial as an acquisition, consolidation, or merger (M&A) can be for an organization, they can cause a great deal of instability and stress. This is particularly true for managers and others who are trying to oversee the process.

Even under the best of circumstances, you’ll need a plan to help navigate the merger. And even then you are still likely to come across challenges. Considering the M&A process can have on an impact across an entire company, in what way is this likely to affect the processes, scope, technology, and staff involved in localization projects? We unpack this further with a brief look at one of our clients who underwent multiple mergers.

How multiple mergers impacted a client

Our team was brought in to assist a multinational software corporation that had undergone several mergers. With each merger, new products with new languages were added to their portfolio. What had started out as a single-language human resources management product, ended up requiring translation into 43 languages. As each merger added a new layer of complexity, our client ultimately decided that it was more cost effective to create a new product from scratch — one that was designed with localization and multiple languages in mind. A new strategy was also required to deal with the growing complications, the most notable being the inconsistent use of terminology.

Even changes that may seem insignificant, such as referring to employees as staff, colleagues or teammates, can have a huge impact on a company, or in this scenario, the relevance of their multilingual HR product.

Understanding M&As and localization teams

During M&As, affected teams may ask a number of questions, including:

  • Which markets shall be prioritized moving forward?
  • Which brands and products will be marketed where?
  • How much are we going to translate for each market?
  • Which languages will the newly formed company focus on for localization?

These M&A questions are affected by the degree to which the prospective companies are merging, which is in turn determined by whether an acquisition, consolidation, or merger is taking place.

Tips for localizing after an acquisition, merger, or consolidation

Once you have established the extent of the M&A, you’ll need to implement these four steps:

  1. Any knowledge about the brand should be documented and stored in one place for reference. Information about a product can often be fragmented and scattered, even within an organization. This is equally applicable to the language and terminology used for a product. When a merger takes place, this information must be centralized to avoid problems further down the line.
  2. Once information is stored in one place, a review will be required to compile a comprehensive cross-company brand glossary and style guide. Both organizations will bring their own preferences and style, so the review will ensure there is no misalignment between the two. Make sure to involve product owners, writers, legal, marketing, and translation team managers to achieve a consensus.
  3. Translation memories will also be impacted, and the newly merged company will need to assess if legacy translation memories should be penalized moving forward. In our blog, From a Million Words to Fifty Thousand, you can learn more about the purpose and benefits a translation memory offers your organization. In this context, penalized refers to the match rate a term or phrase may have with another term or phrase in the translation memories’ systems. In translation memories, if a term or phrase has a 100% match, it can be pulled through automatically to replace the term or phrase. However, if the company has decided post-merger that the term or phrase is potentially no longer relevant, it can be penalized within the system so it no longer reflects as a 100% match, allowing a translator to step in and assess the situation.
  4. The newly merged company will need to assess which tools and suppliers are kept on board for the new translation process. You can learn more about adding new systems to your company here. Companies often rely on different tools to get work done. To ensure that no problems arise during the translation process (for example, incompatibility between tools), companies need to identify which tools and suppliers will be used, and then standardize their systems. Clients should seek the assistance of a trusted global partner to help them with this process.

Implementing these steps will help ensure that a merger or acquisition doesn’t dramatically impact the performance of your localization teams.

A localization and translation partner to help you through the M&A process

While these steps will help your localization and translation teams transition through this period, it’s always better to avoid or minimize these problems beforehand. The right content partner with experience in the global arena can help you achieve this. Rubric is a customer-centric Global Content Partner with years of experience developing and managing localization and translation strategies for multinational companies.

To find out more on how we can ensure your content localization and translation proceeds smoothly, no matter the circumstances, contact us today. If you need to keep up to date with the latest on localization systems that can help your business navigate mergers, be sure to subscribe to our blog.


Ian Henderson
May 27, 2019
carlos-muza-84523-unsplash-1280x912.jpg

We’re swimming in more ‘Big Data’ than we know what to do with. Here’s the good news: the sheer amount of information on-hand can give you an accurate idea of who your customer is, and what should drive your globalization strategy. Both now and in the future.

Define your data goals from the outset

A good question to ask is: what content are people using, and where? With so much content being consumed digitally, businesses now have a number of data-rich channels to analyze. These include eLearning resources, eCommerce platforms, and website content. Usage data can be a treasure trove of information, but if you don’t know what to look for it can be overwhelming. To use Big Data effectively, define the questions you want the data to answer from the outset, then set a baseline from which you can measure the impact or change. From then on it’s an iterative process, whereby the success of your content is reviewed and localization strategy adjusted with each new metric gathered.

Get to know your user profiles

What content are your users consuming? Where are they based?

A user profile is a set of data that gives you an overview of browsing habits, as well as personal specifics such as gender, age, and location. This information provides an accurate idea of who is consuming different pieces of content. Additionally, by monitoring the success of existing translations and how they affect product sales, a business can ascertain which localization strategies work in a specific region, and which do not.

For example, a business may launch a campaign with the express purpose of gathering data about the user base in a specific market. This rich data could then be used for further expansion, as you would have a good idea of what content is received well and what doesn’t resonate with the audience. You can then localize accordingly, selecting which content requires translation into which languages.

Ensure your global strategy doesn’t overreach your budget

When it comes to budgeting for localization, you need to consider the value of your content.

For example: if a company finds that users only look at 20% of their product content, it would not make budgetary sense to translate the remaining 80%. So while high-value content demands high quality translation, it may be sufficient in terms of user experience and expectations for the remaining 80% low-value content to be machine translated using a service such as Google’s machine translation.

Gauging opinion with social media

The internet revolutionized the consumer–brand relationship. So much so, that entire careers are now built on managing, analyzing, and reacting to social media metrics. Where in the past a business would have to send out a survey for feedback, opinion is now easily gleaned, tracked, and measured from consumers’ comments and shares.

This insight is invaluable for brand expansion, gauging an audience’s opinion of competitors, and identifying ownable, niche areas. For brands that are already entrenched in a market, audience opinion and sentiment is crucial for growth. For example, should your organization offer a full multilingual customer service, or would simply localizing online product reviews be of greater benefit?

Back up your data-driven decisions with a trusted Global Content Partner

When it comes to localization strategy, a good rule of thumb is to have a baseline in place, with a target in mind, and to adjust as you go. Collecting usage data can help to determine which content (web pages, user manuals, and product information) should be localized, and into which languages. Tracking data also helps to identify which content is delivering results. It’s an iterative process that can be improved with the help of the localization expertise of a Global Content Partner, like Rubric. Check out more in our blog that mentions Facebook data.


Ian Henderson
May 14, 2019
manual-1280x851.jpg

Technical writing invariably involves a great deal of content reuse. If you’ve ever authored technical documents across multiple products and projects for the same organization, you’ve undoubtedly found yourself repeating elements of text and style many times over.

Streamlining this content reuse can be one of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your authoring and localization processes. And, with the right tools and strategy, it’s easier than you might think.

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an open standard, XML-based architecture for writing and publishing technical documents, and it was built from the ground up to support content reuse. DITA encourages a modular approach to technical writing where topics – the basic units of information within DITA – are capable of standing alone and being reused in many different documents. The focus is on content rather than layout, with the goal of maximizing reuse to save time and resources.

DITA was originally developed by IBM almost 20 years ago. It has received numerous updates since then, and it is experiencing a renaissance with the release of new tools and Lightweight DITA – a simplified version for those that do not require the full feature set, or prefer to work in HTML5 or Markdown.

Switching from traditional word editors to DITA can seem like a daunting prospect, but if used correctly, DITA is an invaluable tool that drives effective writing and localization. That’s why we’ve put together this article to give you some tips on how to get started.

 

The right tools

The first stage in any DITA implementation is choosing your tooling. If you’re new to the architecture and looking to explore its potential, the DITA Open Toolkit is an excellent starting point for experimentation. It’s a free, open-source publishing engine, and it actually serves as the foundation for much of the DITA software ecosystem – including many of the most popular, proprietary authoring and content management applications.

Oxygen XML Editor 21.0 interface
Oxygen XML Editor 21.0 interface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re ready to implement DITA in earnest, tools such as Oxygen XML Editor are the natural next step. This kind of software provides an easy-to-use visual interface for creating and editing technical documentation, much like a typical word processor. But unlike a word processor, these tools come with built-in DITA support, enabling writers to manage their modular content units and effortlessly reuse them via content references.

Content References can be used to pull a huge variety of previously-created content into a new project. This can range from a single phrase, to a topic, to an entire collection of connected content.

 

Don’t let localization be an afterthought

The benefits of DITA aren’t limited to the initial authoring process – it can also significantly streamline localization. The key here is to make sure that you factor in localization right from the outset.

Content created in DITA can be easily converted to XLIFF for translation. But before you get to that point, there are a number of things you can do to make your content more localization-friendly:

  • Write in International English rather than American or British English. Avoid colloquial expressions, idioms, and overly complex sentences.
  • Determine whether there is anything that should not be translated, such as lists of parameters and part numbers. Most DITA tools will give you the option to flag this content for exclusion, which can make a huge difference to localization costs by reducing the scope of work.
  • In cases where you need to customize your content for different products within a range – or for different outputs for the same product (e.g. PDF manual vs online help manual) – use DITA’s conditional text feature to clearly indicate which content should vary, and in what way.
  • Develop a glossary to precisely define terms, especially acronyms and abbreviations.
  • Consider using a controlled language (for instance, Simplified Technical English) with a limited vocabulary and fixed style guidelines. This will improve the consistency of your content and minimize the risk of ambiguity for localization service providers.
  • Use the SVG format for images that include annotations or callout text. SVG graphics are the easiest to edit with computer-assisted translation tools.

Following these suggestions from the start of a project will enable you to move seamlessly from the initial content creation to localization. And once the localization is complete, you will be able to use a DITA publishing engine to generate deliverables for each of your target languages with just a few simple commands. Authors simply have to create and follow well-defined layout rules, and DITA takes care of the rest.

An additional advantage to using DITA for localization is that after a topic has been translated once, it does not have to be translated again – reducing both cost and turnaround times in localization when content is reused.

 

Leverage the experts

Working with experienced specialists is the best way to guarantee a smooth DITA adoption and avoid localization complications. At Rubric, our experts know DITA inside and out, and they are ready to provide their best practice expertise to help you plan your DITA implementation strategy.

Send us some of your own collateral and we can advise on DITA best practices! After clicking, attach some of your source documents to your email and Ian Henderson, our CTO, will reach out with some tips and guidance to help you embed structured authoring and simplify your content management.

Stay tuned for the next couple of weeks as we cover Content Authoring, Product Information Management (PIM) systems and other topics that can help drive your localization strategy.


Follow Our Activity

Stay up to date with our latest activity relating to Global Content.