The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Localization Project Managers
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Localization Project Managers

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Localization Project Managers

Project ManagerEvery project manager wants to know the secrets of making sure their localization project is a success. PMP training, Agile training, and all the other seminars you sat through offer good tidbits, but still you know that something like 40% of projects may fail. If this makes you nervous, then you aren’t alone. There are 7 habits that, when applied with discipline, will go a long way in helping your localization project to succeed.

  1. Nail it down. One reason why projects struggle is because they get started before everyone really understands the work. Make sure the requirements are crystal clear. Your vendor can help you write down the details (aka specifications) of your job in deep detail. The detail will help make sure the job is quoted correctly, ensure the involvement of the right resources, show gaps, and help avoid miscommunication and scope creep.
  2. Find your target. How can you hit a target if you have no idea where it is or what it looks like? Talk about the goals and success factors of your project. What drove the need for this work in the first place? Inevitably a few of your stakeholders won’t have the same idea of success. Hold a meeting so that all stakeholders can have their say on what success looks like.
  3. Embrace reality. Make sure the work is actually possible. For example 200,000 words in 2 days is very very tough: with 40+ translators required in order to get the work done, you will get whoever is available to translate in the correct language and you will not get all the QA steps. Don’t engage in wishful thinking; don’t underestimate or ignore the complexity of your work.
  4. Get a wingman. A senior person invested in the project’s success is a good sidekick for you. He/she can direct you or help you get a project back on track. While you shouldn’t bother this person with the ‘small stuff’, tough decisions can be made together.
  5. Plan. Get out your Gantt chart. Don’t wing it. Define your process, write down the possible problems, brainstorm ways you would solve those problems. What if your developers make changes at the very last minute? You need a plan to communicate to them the problems it causes, as well as a way to get the work done even if they keep doing it.
  6. Trust. Qualify, choose and then trust your vendor. If you’ve diligently chosen a vendor, then you need to trust them to do what they excel at. You can monitor their work, talk candidly with them, and collaborate, but do not micromanage them. Responding to 19 emails from you each day slows them down. (Don’t be THAT GUY).
  7. Find out if it was worth it. When the project is done, you need to review its effectiveness and measure its benefits. Many organizations remain unaware of their true status in terms of benefits realization, which can make you ‘throw more good money after bad’ by doing the same type of project again.

What other things can a PM do to make sure the localization project stays on track and finishes well?