How Localization Supply Chain Models Must Change

Lee Densmer
27 Sep 2019
How Localization Supply Chain Models Must Change

Enterprises going global are upending the way localization supply chains are managed. To grow their business and support customers, they need localization to happen at higher speeds and larger volumes—and this will only intensify as the world demands more and more content in native languages.

But you can’t increase speed and volume without changing the way you manage resources. After all, who does all that work?

Qualifying, onboarding, training and assigning the right resources at the right time is no small feat. The ways in which supply chain managers build, classify and assign their resource pools will be key in the future of localization.

Let’s have a look at some of the most visible trends that affect localization supply chain management.

More resource transparency

Global businesses want more details about the resources working on their content, such as their age, gender, location, language usage at home and cultural identity. This granularity will help them choose resources who are the best match for their specific content.

But it goes deeper than that: businesses also want to take part in vetting resources, which can mean anything from creating the job descriptions to reviewing resumes to interviewing candidates. There is no longer a black box approach to resourcing translation jobs; enterprises co-drive the management of the resources with their language service provider (LSP). This might take more time, but it’s worth it when the resource is a perfect fit for the task and a job well done is assured.

Increased demand for new types of resources

Global enterprises need a wider variety of resources than ever before. Businesses are requesting full-lifecycle services more often, which naturally expands the resource types required.

Supply chain managers need to locate talent to perform new services that traditionally have not been part of localization services: in addition to sourcing translators and proofreaders, they must find very specialized SMEs, creative resources, cultural experts, post-editors, keyword researchers and more. Supply chain managers must adapt to those type of demands and resource, onboard, vet and build their supply chains accordingly.

Requirement for fast, on-demand resourcing

In these days of near-instant localization, resourcing sometimes needs to be lightning quick. Ramp-up times and advanced notice have dramatically decreased, while pressure on turnaround time has rapidly increased. This typically means that a much larger bench of resources is required—lending flexibility, breadth (in both languages and subject matter expertise) and scale to the supply chain model.

And necessarily, automation is required since the manual processes managers used to rely on (Excel spreadsheets, anyone?) can’t possibly handle these demanding requirements.

The need for translators to adapt to machine translation

Translators in the past have been resistant to machine translation (MT), but we are now seeing a shift in their mindset—the evolution and improvement of MT and the shift toward Neural MT make resources more willing to collaborate with a machine. A new generation of translators sees machine translation as a tool that can help them speed up and improve their work, and they are ready to work with raw MT output instead of translating from scratch.

A ‘direct to translator’ approach

As discussed above, clients these days want to know all about the resources that work for them. But they want direct access to those linguists as well.

Clients now want to interact and collaborate with end-suppliers to, for example, set strategy, resolve language issues, build processes and gain market insights. Supply chain managers need to define the most efficient collaboration channels, keeping in mind that quality must remain the focus, not to mention security and legal requirements.

This new client-resource relationship also drives a need to increase the number of resources in the supply chain. On top of traditional “preferred partners” such as translators who are working on that client’s content full-time, businesses need resources who are “specific service-focused” or who can work in a more ad hoc fashion. Management frameworks need to evolve from what supply chain managers have done in the past.

A data-driven approach to enable decision-making

Thriving businesses demand a solid data-driven approach. Clients want to see trends across languages, content types, error typologies, time periods and more. A variety of data needs to be collected and analyzed to detect trends and patterns that cause problems in quality levels, resourcing requirements and schedules. Over time, the data and the decisions that stem from supply chain strategies can enable more streamlined program management, and enterprises can more confidently drive their business in the right direction.

No looking back

As these various resourcing demands intensify, supply chain managers are forced to reconsider how they manage their supply chains. They must create new solutions quickly—after all, the resources are fundamental to completing the work and making localization a success. Whoever comes up with the best ways to manage supply chain are those who will prevail.

Thanks to Marie Kotajsova, our Director of Supply Chain Management, who contributed her insights for this blog post.