How to Add Translation to a Software Development Workflow

August 2, 2021
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Dev teams often struggle to add translation into their software development workflow.
The other development steps in your workflow work like a well-oiled machine (well, almost… you’re getting there). But, no matter what you do, the translation step always takes far longer than expected and seems very inefficient. It can sometimes feel like the process for translating software is completely at odds with your usual development pipeline!
You know that you need to accurately translate your software for your international markets.
Even so, you might be wondering…
Is it really worth it to go through all the hassle every time you need to translate some content?
If you could just run all the content through Google Translate yourself, you would!
Obviously, you know the quality of the translations would be unacceptable if you did this…
… but wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to interface with inefficient translation providers all the time!?
Thankfully, there is a way to get the benefits of high-quality, human translations without all the headaches traditionally associated with translation.
You need to optimize your software development workflow for translation.

What is workflow in software development?

A software development workflow is a process that defines each step that a new software product, feature, or bug fix goes through before it ends up in the released product. A clear workflow ensures that everyone in the development team efficiently coordinates their efforts and meets the deadlines.
Any good development team (dev team) will continually be looking to improve their software development workflow. You have probably spent countless hours looking for new ways to optimize your processes so that each subsequent release is more efficient than the last one.
This is why translation can be so infuriating for dev teams!
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It doesn’t seem to matter how much you improve your development workflow, the translation step often delays everything.
All of your carefully planned automation and scripting becomes useless because you always have to send translations in an Excel file and manually copy and paste them back into your code!

Where translation fits into your software development workflow

A common mistake that dev teams make is that they neglect to incorporate translation in all the necessary stages of the software development workflow. Also, they often only consider the translation of words in their software rather than looking at software localization as a whole.
Codemotion magazine describes 6 stages of a classic software development lifecycle (SDLC).
These are:
No. SDLC stage Definition
1 Planning You perform the requirements analysis for the new product, feature, or bug fix and identify any potential risks.
2 Defining You document these requirements clearly and communicate these to all team members who will be involved in this development.
3 Designing Your team proposes various designs and architectures for the product or feature. The final design is chosen to match the requirements.
4 Building Your teams build the new functionality, checking in regularly to report progress.
5 Testing The product or functionality is assessed using quality assurance testing and any bugs or issues are fixed.
6 Deployment You release the new product or functionality.

Often, dev teams only consider translation at the very end of the Building stage (stage 4), once all of the new content has been created.
If you wait until stage 4, it’s usually too late to make any efficiency improvements to the translation step of development.

Translation during planning, defining, and designing

Ideally, you should start to plan your localization as early as possible in your software development workflow.
You don’t need to have your new source content ready to start optimizing your process for translation. The right translation provider can use those initial planning stages to hook their translation system into your tools and prepare their processes.
When the content is ready for translation, they can deliver your translations quickly and in a way that is effortless for your dev team.

Translation during building

Depending on the specifics of your development workflow, there are a few options for making the translation step more efficient during your building stage.
If you develop new code and content on a continuous cycle, a good translation provider should be able to continuously deliver updated translations to align with your cycles. That way, when the new product or feature is released, the number of new translations is minimal and the whole process becomes very quick.
If instead, you like to develop features fully before you send the content for translation, you should plan enough time into your workflow for that content to be translated and fully tested. Talk with your provider about how much time will be required.

Translation during testing and deployment

The quality assurance (QA) step of translation is one that regularly trips up software companies.
Translation QA is usually performed by reviewers from within your own company in the local markets. These are busy people who already have full-time jobs. It’s not uncommon for entire software releases to be delayed because a reviewer hasn’t sent back their comments on the translated product.
A good translation provider can help you to manage the QA step and suggest options to ensure that late reviews don’t delay your releases.
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Are you struggling to add translation to your development workflow?

As you can see, there are various steps in your software development workflow that influence the efficiency of your translations.
Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking that translation is just a linguistic step that only happens when all of your source content has been created!
If you’re still unsure how you can fit translation into your software development workflow, this is understandable. Everyone’s workflow is slightly different.
A good place to start optimizing your workflow for translation is to talk to an expert in software localization. You can find out how to book a free call with one of our strategists on our software localization page.
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