Products aren’t developed in one-year cycles or multi-year cycles anymore. Work is done in multiple small spurts rather than in one big version change. Agile development is a reality and translation must keep pace with product development. It doesn’t follow a release — it accompanies it. Simultaneous, immediate release in multiple languages is becoming a commonplace requirement. But how exactly do you achieve this while reducing time to market? What is a sensible way of dealing with agile for large enterprises that have a global presence?
One thing is clear: old-school processes built around content handoffs and handbacks are incompatible with continuous localization. Instead, look to adopt a centralized cloud-based translation management system (TMS) with an online interface. In our experience, among other features, it should include the following:
- Localization tools automation and integration. Your tools need to speak to one another, be available in the cloud, and allow flexible, automated workflows.
- Automatic detection of new content, project creation, resource assignment, and content pushing. Project managers can no longer be the links in the chain that push content along. Instead, push and pull of content and all associated tasks should be completely automated.
- Online review, cost tracking, and status reporting. Your translation dashboard should give you quick visibility into project status. Review tools, too, need to be integrated into your cloud-based TMS.
In continuous localization models, the typical turnaround is 24 to 48 hours. Project extensions are rare, as the idea of a project itself is quite different from the traditional sense. In a similar vein, the role of localization project managers changes from active hands-on management toward managing by exception.
However, it’s not just the tools that will enable you to translate continuously. You need to bring about certain changes in your relationship with the vendor:
- Full process transparency. There’s no space for knowledge gaps between the translation buyer and the suppliers. Unless the buyer and suppliers work as a team, agile localization is simply not possible. As such, supplier input and participation in process improvement is vital.
- Resource visibility. Global brands increasingly prefer working with providers that can provide them with named, direct resources. The earlier model where communication used to happen exclusively via project managers will prove to be too slow. Companies increasingly need to know who’s translating their content, who’s editing it, and who’s reviewing it. You may possibly want to work with the same people to ensure continuity, and your supplier should be able to facilitate that.
- Follow-the-sun model. You may be pushing out content from different production centers around the globe and consuming it likewise. Having a localization team in place that can provide coverage for different time zones, with overlapping business hours from one time zone to the next, helps accelerate turnaround times. In many cases, this model easily saves a whole day in the turnaround cycle.
Continuous localization is not yet the default model for most organizations. But many global brands have successfully adopted it, and it is increasingly gaining currency among companies of any size — hi-tech startups that live and breathe agile, as well as more established producers that are changing the direction of their existing large-scale localization programs towards this model.