A localization management tool (also known as a translation management system) saves you so much time and money that it pays for itself. Companies that use translation software have seen a 60% increase in productivity and a nearly 90% reduction in costs.
This guide includes tips and recommendations for how to set up a successful localization process. If you’re on the fence, it will also help you determine if a translation management system is a good investment for your business (spoiler alert: it is!).
- What is localization management?
- ~Why is localization management important?
- ~What does a localization project manager do?
- ~What does the localization management process look like?
- Common localization problems (and how to solve them)
- Four best practices for localization project management (+ tools for success)
What is localization management?
Localization management is how your company plans and implements translation projects. It is the execution of your localization strategy.
Well, we say translation projects. But translating the text is only one of several steps in your localization workflow.
As we know, translation is the exchange of textual meaning from one language to another. Localization, on the other hand, is all about adapting the entire buyer’s journey as if you designed it with the target audience in mind.
When done right, it should not be obvious to the customer that the content was originally written in another language.
And if you want repeat buyers who will rave about your products or services to others (who doesn’t?), the buyer’s journey doesn’t end after the first sale.
That means you are dealing with a continuous localization process with a task list that grows as your business scales. Often, they will include
- Translating marketing collaterals, legal documents, and applications
- Ensuring website support for local currencies, units, and formats
- Making customer care available in the local language
- Complying with local laws and regulations
- Budgeting and allocating resources according to local KPIs
Good localization management ensures that your team completes their tasks to high quality standards, on time, and within budget.
Additionally, if you want to read more about how to adapt your marketing campaigns to other markets - here's a detailed marketing localization guide.
Why is localization management important?
The latest research shows that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy products from websites in their native language.
The same number of people are more likely to buy again from the same brand if they can access local language customer support. That’s 3 out of 4 people. Not a small percentage by any means.
And as the demand for localized content grows, businesses are responding. The size of the language services industry has doubled in a decade, with an impressive $5 billion growth in just two years.
It shows that businesses like yours want to scale up their localization efforts to hone in on international audiences. Not only that, they want to do it well.
To succeed at localization, you need the process to flow smoothly from start to finish. With effective localization management supported by the right software tools, your business can
- Save on translation costs
- Improve time to market
- Reduce errors and consistencies in copy
- Increase productivity
- Communicate better
💡 You can achieve all this and more with a translation management system like Redokun.
A localization platform means you can focus on tasks other than endless spreadsheets and email threads. It helps you save time by automating menial tasks from content creation to publication. Your team performance - and your bottom line - is all the better off for it.
After all, localization project managers are people with many talents that you can put to better use to create value for your business.
What does a localization project manager do?
Like any set of business activities, you need someone to manage the localization process. At most companies, that responsibility falls on the localization project managers. They oversee every single step of the workflow when companies adapt their products and content to international audiences.
As a localization PM or country manager, your day-to-day tasks may include:
- Recruiting translators or using LSPs.
- Creating and updating a style guide for translators.
- Consulting with in-country localization specialists.
- Reviewing the quality of translation outputs.
- Ordering changes to products and presentation to fit local specifications.
- Tracking the progress of individual tasks or the whole project.
- Reporting to the accounting team on spending.
- Anticipating potential delays and issues.
- Problem-solving to deal with said delays and issues.
The project manager is the glue that holds the entire localization project together. With such a long list of tasks and responsibilities, comes the need for a variety of skills. And as a translator myself who has worked with a few localization PMs, I can tell you that they are indeed very skilled people.
Successful localization project managers need the cultural awareness to manage global stakeholders across time zones. They will be:
- Excellent communicators.
- Tech-savvy and familiar with CAT tools.
- Flexible problem solvers.
- Confident leaders of cross-functional teams.
- Experienced with translation (or know another language).
💡 When supported by the right tech solutions, localization PMs perform better. That means you need to know your MT (machine translation) from your TM (translation memory).
What does the localization management process look like?
In a business that's not tech-enabled, a manual localization management process might look like this:
- Organizing the files and folders according to specific projects and languages.
- Copying the text from the original source files and pasting it into optimized files for translation (i.e. spreadsheets).
- Sending the files to your translators and/or localization specialists.
- Receiving the translated content, which you then forward to reviewers and proofreaders.
- Most likely, sending out a few email reminders to your team members when deadlines approach.
- Reviewing the translation quality and sending it back for edits.
- Pasting the approved translations back into the original layout to prepare for publication.
- Sending out updated versions of content in the original source language.
As a result, your localization team is making lifelong friendships with spreadsheets, email threads, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and Ctrl+F. It’s expensive, time-consuming and stressful for everyone involved.
A translation management system (TMS) is key to managing your localization process with ease. It keeps you from ripping your hair out when your marketing team sends out a new version of a sales letter that is already 80% translated into 6 different languages.
How do you even start highlighting changes, sending them to your translators, and then going through the QA review process again?
I have been the translator at the other end of that email. I spent so much valuable time trying to figure out exactly what parts have changed in a document. With a TMS, I could have found and translated the new sentences in seconds.
💡 Read about how a TMS helps your business translation workflow: How to Create a Better Translation Workflow for Your Business
Common localization problems (and how a TMS helps)
A localization project has many moving parts that can be difficult to manage. That’s why we reached out to localization managers to pinpoint the recurring issues that many of them face - and how adopting a TMS helped solve them.
Besides the following four issues, here's a specific content to help you solve the most common localization problems.
1. Manual tasks take a lot of time.
If you need to know one thing about effective localization management, this is it: stay far away from spreadsheets.
Lisa Dietrich, co-founder of RemoteCanteen, shares how moving away from a manual workflow helped her team work more efficiently and make fewer errors:
“In the past, I would spend hours sorting through different spreadsheets, trying to find the most up-to-date version of a translation. With the localization management system, all of our translations are stored in one central repository. This not only saves me time, but it also helps to reduce the risk of errors. In addition, the software makes it easy to track changes and ensures that all stakeholders are aware of the latest versions.”
With a translation management system, you can upload files and invite translators to work in their browser. Redokun’s web editor allows them to fill in the translation and deliver it on time without any confusion.
It even lets you make last-minute changes to documents while the translations are ongoing. For example, when managers upload a new version of a source document to Redokun, the system notifies translators of any newly added content so they can translate those parts - and only those parts - immediately.
Not to mention that the built-in translation memory feature can help them work a lot faster while translating in Redokun. This is a database of every translation you've approved before that can be reused in the current project. This means more consistent translations across documents with repetitive content, much fewer errors, and a lot less headache.
Furthermore, Google Translate and DeepL machine translation engines are also built into Redokun so you can easily generate more suggestions for sentences you have not translated before.
2. An inefficient workflow makes it difficult to track progress.
Another downside to handling your localization projects with spreadsheets is that it makes progress tracking downright painful.
Max Benz, founder and CEO of BankingGeek, says that:
“Before we adopted localization management software, our productivity suffered due to a number of inefficiencies in our workflow. [....] We often lost sight of the big picture when dealing with individual translations, which led to duplicate work and inconsistency across our different language versions.*
Most translation management systems, including Redokun, have an in-built progress tracker that allows you to see the status of the overall project at a glance.
You can also see how far your translators have progressed on their tasks without having to chase for updates through repeated emails.
3. It’s challenging to communicate and collaborate with remote teams.
One of the key characteristics of localization projects is that they are handled remotely, probably 90% of the time. If you have ever tried to find a translator for Norwegian in Boston, you understand why.
While that is not an obstacle in itself, it can make communication tricky.
Nikita Agarwal, Head of Growth at Milestone Localization tells us that:
“A TMS brings everyone together. It reduces the number of emails and messages sent by at least 80%, there are fewer miscommunications and projects get completed on time. Having a single place where your PMs, translators, proofreaders and editors from around the world can work leads to incredible productivity and quality gains.”
Krittin Kalra, founder of Writecream, adds that:
“[Localization management tools] have made my work as a localization project manager easier. They have also made it easier for me to work with a remote team. I have been able to save time, money, and resources by not having to rely on time-consuming tasks such as manual editing and quality checking.”
If you have any comments about the work as it is happening, Redokun allows you to simply tag the relevant person on the page. They can respond and implement the necessary changes.
No more email fluff or waiting for replies while switching between tabs.
4. Preparing documents for publication takes a lot of effort.
So the translation is done. The hard part is over, right?
Not really, because now you need to adjust the layout and design features of your content assets to fit the target language.
The marketing team at Pfannenberg uses Redokun to translate marketing collateral for their target markets.
Before, they would spend weeks entering the new translation into the old files. Once they implemented the solution, their time-to-market went from several weeks to almost immediate.
This is what their marketing manager, Ambra Lazzari, had to say for our case study:
“We often translate our marketing material into 4-6 languages and the InDesign task to re-enter the translation was previously managed by a single person taking 2-3 weeks for each, one after the other. Now it’s almost immediate and we can manage several languages at the same time.”
Wonder how that’s possible? As soon as the translation is done, Redokun generates a document that retains the style and formatting of the original. Just click on the download button and you’re good to go.
Instead of spending weeks fiddling with the design, you get immediate access to a document that is more or less ready for publication.
Not only does it speed up your time to market, it makes life easier for your translators and designers. More importantly, it gives you more time to focus on localization management practices where you can put your skills to better use.
Four best practices for localization project management (+ tools for success)
So, what constitutes effective localization management? Here, we cover the best practices for structuring the localization process to maximize your chances of success.
1. Develop your content creation processes with localization in mind
Simplicity is key to a streamlined translation workflow. To create a content creation process you can scale to many languages, focus on:
- Integrating localization and marketing teams: You should always involve your localization team in the initial planning stages of marketing campaigns. That will help you nip in the bud any parts of your content that may be offensive to audiences in other countries.
- Universal messages that translate well: Idioms and colloquialisms are not easy to translate. The same goes for ads that focus on cultural references and local trends. When used well, they are great ways to capture the attention of your target audience, but keep them to a minimum to save time and effort in the translation process.
- Straightforward language: When your copy is plain and concise, it is a lot easier to transfer meaning to the target language. Rule #1 for faster and more affordable content translation: Don’t make things more complicated than it has to be.
💡 Implement tools like Quillbot, Grammarly, or Hemingway to write copy that is more readable (and therefore easier to translate).
2. Be clear about project scope and expectations
For any kind of business venture, it's important to have clear goals, a plan for how to achieve them, and good communication systems. It is even more important for localization, because:
- Many localization projects are remote.
- The projects are split into separate teams for each language combination.
- The teams are made up of people from different cultures and linguistic backgrounds.
All of these factors come together to make miscommunication and misunderstandings more likely to occur.
The complexity of many localization projects makes it difficult to avoid communication difficulties altogether. But you can minimize them by having a clearly defined scope and setting goals based on KPIs.
Make sure everyone on your team understands:
- The project scope, including content volumes and schedule.
- Roles and responsibilities.
- KPI priorities for each stage of the project.
- Expectations for productivity.
- Performance evaluation procedures.
- QA reviews and editing processes.
- The shared channels to communicate about the above processes.
💡 Your team is likely already using communication and PM tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Notion, Trello, and Jira. For specific tasks and projects, check out the built-in communication features in your chosen translation management system.
3. Manage risk factors through extensive QA reviews
Risk management is crucial to building an effective localization workflow. By predicting potential issues and having procedures in place to deal with them before they occur, you can avoid:
- Costly mistakes (such as including elements that are culturally offensive).
- Delays in time-to-market.
- Damage to your brand's reputation.
To mitigate risks, go all-in on localization quality assurance (QA) testing. Hiring cultural consultants or beta testers from your target market are both great methods of ensuring that your localization efforts are heading down the right path.
One of the best things you can do, however, is to put effort into your style guide and translation glossary. If there is a single source of truth from the beginning, your linguists will have a much easier time adapting the copy with the right terminology in place.
💡 Translation memory is a feature that automatically saves previously approved translations from your projects. When you translate new documents, similar or matching segments will pop up as suggestions for your linguists to use in their current tasks. Not only does it boost productivity, but it also helps you maintain a consistent voice in your marketing messages.
4. Streamline your localization workflow with automation
Automation may be a buzzword for some job roles, but not this one.
Translation management systems help businesses automate those menial tasks that no one wants to do.
Wouldn’t you rather spend more time on deliverables and stakeholder management rather than getting stuck at updating spreadsheets?
Instead of getting lost in the bottomless pit of your email inbox when sending out tasks to 20+ translators, you could simply:
- Upload the file to the TMS.
- Send out invites to translators in each target language with a single click.
- Track the progress of the whole project in one dashboard.
- Communicate with the translators quickly so they're always on the same page.
- Generate translated documents that retain the original formatting and styles.
No surprises as to what tool we would recommend here, really.
Redokun helps your team work smarter
Localization management is overwhelming if you don't have the right automation tools supporting your day-to-day work. And when management feels like a mess, so does the entire localization team. If this is you, Redokun is a solution you can try with your team today.
Our online platform combines advanced translation technology with a simple, easy-to-use interface that you can access from anywhere. All you need is a browser and an internet connection.
With Redokun, your team can:
- Upload and translate a wide variety of file formats from Word to PowerPoint to InDesign.
- Leverage built-in resources like translation memory, quick revisions and machine translation to work faster (without sacrificing quality).
- Integrate all your localization processes into a single workspace for better productivity and communication.
If you would like give Redokun a try, get free access for the next two weeks here! No credit card details required.
Till next time,