How to Ask for a Larger Localization Budget
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How to Ask for a Larger Localization Budget

How to Ask for a Larger Localization Budget


You thought the toughest part of your job was over once you convinced your boss about the need for a localization program and got it off the ground. Well, yes and no. It was the first battle that needed to be won. Securing a sizeable budget, maintaining it, or increasing it are other battles along the way. How do you win them?

In two main ways. First, you must prove that the initial investment in localization has been fruitful. You have to show the ROI. Second, you need to make the case for further expansion of the localization budget.

Show me the ROI

If you have the right key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, this should be a breeze. But, what are the right KPIs? That depends entirely on the goals you want to achieve with translation. And, no they are not quality, cost and speed; those are the metrics with which you will arrive at the KPIs.

For example, did the reduction of errors by X rate in the instruction manual bring down the number of calls to your customer service center by Y percent? Did improved processes contribute to meeting deadlines, which, in turn, led to on-time product launches?

But what happens if you are not using your localization data well and therefore don’t have a success story to tell? This is usually the case at organizations that are lower on the scale of localization maturity and lack a centralized program. Of course, the reason you don’’t have a robust, central program is perhaps because you don’t have a large enough localization budget. Or, it could be the other way around. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Make the case

Each localization manager’s need for more spend is based on a diverse set of reasons, the most common ones being those listed below:

1. Centralization and recruitment

There are many organizational benefits to be derived from a centralized localization program, but you need more money at your disposal to even get this program off the ground. You may need to invest in people, processes and technology in order to consolidate. You may not need a big team, especially if you choose to outsource, but you will still need some localization staff. In the same way, you may not always need new tools, but will need to take a long, hard look at the ones that you need to keep and the ones you need to throw out, and how best you can align processes intra-company.

2. Quality improvement

Achieving higher quality is a function of many factors coming together, including professional translation, well-maintained translation memories, investing in the right tools, solid processes, and more. Of course, not all quality issues stem from a lack of finances, but several of them might. Try to use data on quality issues to convince your boss about the need to invest in quality. For example, if you see a high number of visits to your localized website but they are mostly bouncing, chances are it’s the lower quality of the translations that might be putting them off.

3. The next round of localization

As the competition for international markets gets hotter, it’s no longer enough to translate the content that you produce. Many companies now want to do multilingual sentiment analysis to understand the pulse of the markets. Others want to translate all user-generated content. This is especially true of e-commerce and travel companies.

4. More languages or difficult language pairs

If you are going from 5 to 15 languages, your boss obviously needs to loosen the purse strings. But sometimes while the increase in the quantity of languages may not be this drastic, it does matter what languages you are adding. If you are adding even one or two long-tail languages, your spend may go up, as the resources for these languages are relatively scarce and thus cost more.

5. Adapting to different platforms

You may want to make your content available on mobile or even wearable devices. These call for adapting your content accordingly (think bi-directional or Asian languages) and employing a different set of skills.

Lastly, portray localization for the strategic tool it is

The very fact that we are having this conversation on budget is because localization is frequently seen only as an expense and not the strategic tool that it really is. Would your company similarly debate the need for marketing or customer support in its domestic market? No, right? Help them see how localization is integral to all parts of the international buyer journey, right from top of the funnel to the bottom.

The life of a localization manager is tough, but hopefully the arguments for your budget are getting easier with the many cultures and peoples claiming their share of the Internet and the world economy. So, go on and ply your boss with all of the arguments we shared here. We’ll be all ears to hear how it went.