The Four Pillars of a Truly Mature Loc Program
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The Four Pillars of a Truly Mature Loc Program

Your localization program is up and running and you’re already selling your products and services in a few worldwide markets. But as your company expands internationally, your content volumes, speed to market and format types are also increasing. You need to make sure your loc machine is fully optimized.

Through our decades of experience helping brands go global, we’ve identified four fundamental pillars of a mature localization program. Think about putting them into place and watch your localization program surge ahead.

Centralized localization and program management

When multiple people in various regions or corporate departments manage their own localization needs, chaos is bound to occur. You could have a range of language services providers (LSP) with an even wider range of prices, not to mention the inconsistency and waste in varying processes, assets and tools. This is one situation where putting all your eggs in one basket is actually recommended.

Let one office, team or department manage your entire localization program. As organizations mature, they realize the value in consolidating and streamlining, especially when there are many stakeholders producing content of different types to different schedules. Establishing one centralized localization function can not only improve language quality through taking ownership of linguistic assets, but time and cost efficiencies can be gained through choosing one workflow and toolset that supports all content types.

In addition, by bringing all localization needs under one roof, you could identify the need to consolidate localization efforts with one or more LSP. By managing fewer vendors, the team can reduce project management effort. You can also outsource project-level management and resourcing tasks to your LSPs, allowing you to focus on managing your internal stakeholders’ requests. And lastly, you might be able to achieve volume discounts.

Quality management program

Linguistic quality is key to the perception of your brand in market and, in serious cases, critical in preventing accidents and gross mistakes. You can’t manage quality with ad hoc edits and wishful thinking.

A quality management program will drive quality across all your content and includes quality processes, automations and definitions as well as a framework for scoring performance. Maintaining linguistic assets is also a component of a quality management program. These include things like company brand voice and style guides, translation memories and terminology databases. You also need to be involved in defining quality, setting quality guidelines, training LSPs and linguists, creating LQA forms and establishing expectations to ensure accurate brand messaging.

Lastly, many global enterprises involve in-country stakeholders in quality management. Their on-the-ground knowledge of local markets and cultures can prove beneficial in defining target buyer personas and style guidelines for each market, reviewing the quality of the translations, and guiding LSPs and their translators with concrete feedback to continuously improve translator performance. Respect the amount of time they spend on their ‘day jobs’ but make use of their vast cultural expertise.

Solid technology framework

These days, technology is a component of nearly everything that we do, and translating your content is no exception. In this ever-changing localization landscape, tools are essential to keep up with your company’s requirements for speed and quality, keep costs low, and juggle more and more types of content.

Yet the localization technology field is expanding by the day, with more and more tools joining the market. You need to make sense of not only everything that’s out there, but what would be the best solution for you given your localization needs and current technology investments. (One size does NOT fit all!)

Engage a loc tools expert to help you select, customize and integrate the right tools for your program. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Adopt technology that automates workflow steps, connects systems and improves quality (such as CAT tools, TMS, CMS, authoring tools, etc.)
  • Try to use “high composability” technology frameworks, e.g.: granular, API-accessible methods that can be called from anywhere
  • Ensure that technology platforms and integrations can accommodate fast-turnaround, agile content and processes
  • Establish one set of tools for all your LSPs and stakeholders to use, with customized workflows for the various content types and quality levels you require

Impactful KPIs, data and analysis

As with any goal in life, you can’t measure how successful you are in achieving it if you are not measuring your progress. First, it’s not enough to just set goals—you need to establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are specific achievements you want to reach in given time frames.

KPIs should be quantifiable accomplishments. To get started, pick 3-4 goals (increase web traffic by x%? have zero linguistic errors? always receive on-time deliveries?) and a timeline during which they will be measured (quarterly, annually, etc.). The focus should be on what is important to you, your stakeholders, and your customers.

Next, make sure you know where to find the data needed to measure against those goals. Where do you track deliveries? Can you get frequent reports from your LSP on the quality of their deliverables? Can your marketing team measure website performance in each market? Better yet, can you get dashboards that consolidate information, making it easy for you to view progress against KPIs in real time at your leisure?

Finally, now that you have the measuring sticks and the data, you can begin to analyze it all and draw conclusions. Did you meet or exceed your KPIs? If so, consider adjusting your goals for the next year or quarter. You may also need to set higher or different KPIs to get to the next level of growth. For more tips and handy worksheets to help you get started, check out our ebook: From KPIs to ROI: Proving the Business Impact of Smart Localization.

Localization: the next generation

Once you have these four pillars of your localization program in place, you may begin to see a shift in how your organization views and incorporates localization into strategic decisions. Once it’s seen as a revenue contributor and not a cost center, localization will start to become a component of content creation and marketing workflows, rather than an afterthought.

And that gives your loc program the power and ability to go even further.