Localization process: a vital cog in the global content strategy machine

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Even the best global content strategy will fall down if it is not supported by well-defined, well-implemented policies and procedures. Localization is one of the key components of multilingual content development, and so businesses cannot afford to overlook localization processes.
Without effective processes, the risk of missed translation delivery dates and quality issues rises exponentially – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As CSA Research explains, localization processes are essential to governance: without them, it is impossible to accurately benchmark performance and determine whether your strategy is working. Process also ensures that localization is given the appropriate attention and budget. And last but not least, process enables localization teams to serve as centers of expertise that drive effective globalization processes business-wide.[1]
This article will examine the importance of both internal and external processes – the processes that take place within the localization function, and those by which localization teams interact with the rest of the business – and share some of our best practice advice for optimizing your policies.

Internal processes

Implementing strong internal processes is the first step towards effectively executing a global content strategy. After all, a localization team can hardly be expected to integrate with other business functions until its internal workings are properly established and streamlined.
CSA Research identifies 11 primary areas that require internal processes:
  • Vendor selection
  • Vendor training
  • Vendor portals
  • Job submission
  • Escalation procedures
  • Linguistic review[2]
  • Quality metrics
  • Terminology management
  • Community management
  • Forecasting and planning
  • Monitoring and reporting
In our experience, most businesses have processes in place for some of these areas, but many localization teams lack defined policies in at least a few fields. We recommend reviewing your workflows to determine whether there are any weaknesses in your existing approach. For example, when it comes to terminology management, does your company have a single repository for approved nomenclature? Do translators all utilize the same translation memories?
Defining process for all – or at least most – of these areas will drastically boost productivity, reduce admin work, and improve content quality. What’s more, you will be empowered to measure localization performance, and you will be able to use that data to make further process improvements.

External processes

Globalization does not begin and end with the localization team. Delivering a truly effective global customer journey requires collaboration between a wide array of different departments: marketing, customer service, product development, and more. With that in mind, we recommend establishing clear processes that dictate how localization teams should interact with other business functions.
By far the most important consideration is the stage at which localization teams participate in external processes. It is essential for globalization stakeholders to join strategy and design conversations as early as possible so that they can ensure global content strategy priorities are factored into decision-making.
Achieving this level of collaboration can be challenging, especially if the silo mentality is prevalent within your organization. But aligning business functions on a shared globalization agenda can have a profound impact on the quality of the global customer experience. The benefits are well worth the effort.
We’ve found that the best way to implement and enforce cross-departmental localization processes is to establish centralized executive oversight.

Avoiding operational waste

Perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt formal localization processes is eliminating unnecessary operational waste.
In many situations, content and translations can be reused across multiple deliverables to improve consistency while saving time and money – in fact, reusability should be one of your primary considerations when authoring content. But without clear processes, it can be very difficult to identify opportunities for reuse, and so effort is wasted as content is rewritten.
Similarly, redundant steps and unnecessary back-and-forth within and between teams can significantly inflate localization costs. CSA research has found that, on average, the vast majority of what companies spend on localization projects goes to admin and overheads, with only 25% spent on the actual translation and research. While some admin is necessary, operational waste accounts for a significant portion of expenditure – in some cases, up to one third of the total cost.[3]
Assess whether the members of your teams know exactly what they need to do when they receive localized deliverables. How long does each step take? Can some of these steps be removed, or the time shortened? Many waste issues, such as unnecessary process steps or overlooked technology features, are very easy to fix. Starting with these simple problems can yield major results for minimal effort.[4]

Work with a global content partner for continuous improvement

Is there an LSP that you use often for translations? If so, are they merely reactive, translating work as necessary, or are they proactive in coming up with process suggestions to reduce costs over the long-term? What happens when translated content is received? Does it include receiving working files that can be immediately integrated into your company’s own workflows? If not, it’s important to realize that a better process would save your internal teams a great deal of effort.
As a global content partner, Rubric doesn’t just treat localization projects as one-off, transactional engagements. We will work with you holistically to understand your globalization requirements. We will help you design tailored localization processes to maximize the quality of your content and optimize your resource utilization. And over the course of the partnership, as we grow more familiar with your business, we will continuously offer proactive suggestions to help you further enhance both your internal and external processes.
[1] CSA Research, Process: Globalizing Enterprise-Wide, p.1-2.
[2] CSA Research, Process: Globalizing Enterprise-Wide, p.2.
[3] CSA Research, The Interoperability Dilemma, p.10.
[4] CSA Research, The Interoperability Dilemma, p.20.

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