Tag: vendor

Getting started in localization project management

by on Jan.16, 2009 , under localization

Con­grat­u­la­tions, you’re in charge of local­iza­tion! …So now what?!

It’s bizarre but not all that uncom­mon that orga­ni­za­tions will sud­denly real­ize that they could mar­ket their prod­ucts or ser­vices out­side the US and Canada, and just as sud­denly they pick some­body who doesn’t seem all that busy and put them in charge.
So if you’re the lucky new local­iza­tion project man­ager, con­grat­u­la­tions! But what do you do next? Or if you’re the exec­u­tive who real­izes this is crazy, what’s your alter­na­tive? How do you con­vince every­one else that local­iza­tion is a non­triv­ial undertaking?

The good news

First, the good news: Some of today’s top experts in local­iza­tion started exactly this way. I recently led an indus­try con­fer­ence where the ques­tion kept com­ing up: How did you get into this field? So finally I asked every­body in the room to describe their back­ground and how they ended up involved in local­iza­tion. Only a hand­ful had a back­ground in lan­guages, and only one had for­mal train­ing in local­iza­tion, trans­la­tion, or glob­al­iza­tion. Yet all were highly suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sion­als. My best guess is that the field attracts tal­ent and fil­ters out medi­oc­rity, per­haps because its chal­lenges are lay­ered and exotic (and fun!).

The bad news

Now the bad news: Local­iza­tion is incred­i­bly com­plex, and most peo­ple spend years at it only to dis­cover they’re still just scratch­ing the sur­face. More­over, run­ning a suc­cess­ful local­iza­tion pro­gram often also requires edu­cat­ing the rest of the orga­ni­za­tion about how inter­na­tional mar­ket expec­ta­tions dif­fer, and advo­cat­ing why those dif­fer­ences mat­ter. Local­iza­tion could have a big­ger effect on short—and long-term rev­enue growth than any other activ­ity in the orga­ni­za­tion, yet many exec­u­tives will be look­ing at it as a giant money-sucking monster.

So where do you start? I have three tips.

  1. Find a good vendor.
  2. Lead with your strengths.
  3. Get help with the rest.

Num­ber one, you’re going to need a good vendor—or maybe sev­eral of them—no mat­ter what you do. Local­iza­tion is almost always out­sourced, and for many good rea­sons. Ven­dor man­age­ment is a whole dis­ci­pline in itself, but if I had to get it down to one sen­tence, it would be this: “Don’t go by price, go by who under­stands your needs the best.” The best ven­dor is the one whose ques­tions make sense, whose warn­ings ring true, and whose pro­jec­tions seem real­is­tic. Trust your gut on this, because like Dr. Spock used to tell par­ents, “You know more than you think you do.”

Num­ber two, lead with your strengths. If you know project man­age­ment and devel­op­ment process, then take charge of the logis­tics, ride herd on your bud­gets and sched­ules, and be sure to under-promise and over-deliver. Do that and you’ll earn upper management’s con­fi­dence, and they’ll lis­ten to you when you ask for resources. If you know the prod­uct or ser­vice inside and out, then share that knowl­edge with your trans­la­tion team. Get involved in teach­ing it to them and answer­ing their ques­tions. Do that, and you’ll earn your team’s con­fi­dence, and they’ll have your back when chal­lenges arise. If you’re a good peo­ple per­son, then put your energy into help­ing your group become a great team. Do that, and they’ll accom­plish aston­ish­ing things.

Num­ber three, get help. Nobody can learn it all, nobody can do it all, and fak­ing it doesn’t work out as a strat­egy long term. To develop wise strate­gies and effec­tive tac­tics in local­iza­tion by your­self, you would need to become con­ver­sant in many or all of the fol­low­ing in addi­tion to all the tech­ni­cal details of your prod­uct or service:

  • Finance
  • Con­tract administration
  • Project man­age­ment
  • Lin­guis­tics
  • Pro­cure­ment and ven­dor management
  • Local mar­ket requirements
  • Global mar­ket research
  • Global busi­ness prac­tices and work cultures
  • Ter­mi­nol­ogy management
  • Con­tent management
  • Prod­uct tech­nol­ogy and devel­op­ment processes
  • Desk­top pub­lish­ing tech­nol­ogy and trends
  • Qual­ity assurance
  • Trans­la­tion mem­ory, align­ment, and lever­age (reusability)
  • Computer-assisted trans­la­tion technology
  • Vir­tual, dis­trib­uted team leadership
  • Facil­i­ta­tion and con­flict resolution
  • Trans­la­tion workflow
  • Local­iza­tion best prac­tices and indus­try trends
  • Orga­ni­za­tional politics
And on and on…


Obvi­ously it’s ridicu­lous to think that any­one could develop all these strengths dur­ing their first project cycle, or for that mat­ter their first five years, yet all will come into play, and prob­a­bly sooner rather than later. So lead with your strengths, get all the train­ing you can, and seek the help you deserve.

We’re here to help

Glob­al­Prag­mat­ica offers facil­i­ta­tive lead­er­ship with domain exper­tise in local­iza­tion, inter­na­tion­al­iza­tion, and project and pro­gram man­age­ment. Glob­al­Prag­mat­ica pro­vides prag­matic guid­ance to help a client-side orga­ni­za­tion develop and achieve its global vision through sus­tain­able strate­gies, effec­tive tac­tics, and com­mit­ted teams. Glob­al­Prag­mat­ica also helps com­pa­nies in the local­iza­tion, trans­la­tion, project man­age­ment, and facil­i­ta­tion domains work bet­ter and smarter with their clients.

Learn more at http://​glob​al​prag​mat​ica​.com or email us for a no-obligation con­sul­ta­tion at info@globalpragmatica.com.

This arti­cle also appeared at Glob­al­Prag­mat­ica part­ner ENLASO’s Lan­guage Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter. For more infor­ma­tion on how ENLASO can assist you with all of your local­iza­tion needs, see http://​www​.trans​late​.com.

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