What Happens When You Don’t Have a Localization Strategy
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What Happens When You Don’t Have a Localization Strategy

What Happens When You Don’t Have a Localization Strategy


It’s perhaps easier to understand the importance of a localization strategy when we realize what happens without one. The reality is that many companies that do localize don’t have a clear, written-down strategy — however brief — in place. This is just like the all-too familiar situation where companies create content without having a real content marketing strategy.

In this blog post, we discuss some of the symptoms of myopic localization, what the broad goals of a strategy should be, and what the strategy should include.

So what are the ways in which a no-strategy scenario frequently manifests itself? Here’s what we see most frequently — though, of course, the situation is never black or white:

  • Leadership indifference. At the higher level, there is not much awareness about localization’s role, and as a consequence, processes may not get the required support and the budget may suffer.
  • Confusion among employees. In the absence of a strategy, roles may not be clear, leading to duplication of efforts or lack of ownership.
  • Complacency of stakeholders. When there is no strategy, there also are no goals or concerted effort being made to reach the goals. Inertia sets in.
  • Short-term thinking. Reactions are ad hoc; people see something as a task rather than as a recurring project that requires a clear process and workflow.
  • Lack of unity. The scene can be pretty chaotic with various departments trying different methods to reach the same goals.
  • Deeply entrenched traditional perspectives. After a certain time, people will simply hold on to what they’ve been doing under the pretext of “This is how we’ve always done things.” The company’s goals cease to matter, because localization somehow seems irrelevant to these goals.

Goals of localization strategy

Now that we know how rudderless any global marketing will be without a localization strategy, let’s consider what a sound strategy aims to achieve.

  • Focused energy and resources. The strategy should help make localization a faster and easily scalable process, while minimizing cost and time involved.
  • Clear priorities. The strategy should aim to make clear what the localization group should be achieving. Day-to-day conflicts and confusion can be avoided if the desired results are documented and stakeholders agree on them.
  • Strengthened operations. The workflow is defined and tasks are cut out. This helps minimize bottlenecks and creates continuous and hiccup-free production despite employee turnover.

What the strategy should include

One of the most important components of the policy should be to bring consensus on and ultimately build a centralized localization program. The program itself must outline the various critical elements in localization, such as quality and technology:

  • Translation approaches and processes. Should your organization adopt crowdsourcing, or should it go the machine translation (MT) route? Might it just be that good old professional translation is the best fit? Apart from deciding on which approach you should adopt, you have to nail down the general process that each of these approaches entails within the broad context of your content lifecycle.
  • Translation technology. This discussion must go beyond thinking about the translation management system (TMS), and should include the build-or-buy as well as hosted vs. cloud-based considerations.
  • Translation quality. The strategy should cover the typical pain points and how they can be addressed, the responsibilities of individual stakeholders, as well as your overall objectives related to quality and your brand’s voice and tone in individual markets.
  • Metrics and KPIs. Having these in place ensures that you understand what’s working and what’s not. Otherwise, you may be working in the dark.
  • Language and content selection. Prioritize languages and content depending on the chief markets you wish to enter. This will not only avoid putting too much pressure on your localization team, but it will also help you stay on track to launching products on time in your critical markets.

Don’t simply start translating without a clear strategy in place. That’s the best way to lose all existing goodwill for localization at your company. Defining at least the core elements of your strategy will make all stakeholders answer important questions and thus bring about a bigger awareness of the collective goals and how localization fits in.