There is never a dull moment when globalizing digital products and services. If there is some trouble ahead, it is likely due to time management issues. Globalization leaders and localization practitioners know that they have to deal with frequently asked questions from clients and stakeholders. How much does it cost? How long does it take? They have to take both into consideration to properly scope efforts and deliver on experience requirements.
Evaluating time is crucial to planning, managing, and deploying content across a number of markets. The actual course of action for localization has to be rooted in globalization roadmaps, and reflect all dependencies and requirements associated with delighting customers in multiple markets, languages, cultures, and ecosystems. Although some people might see it as some sort of international or transnational timeline, it takes much more than scheduling a few activities covering the adaptation and deployment of digital content around the world. Therefore, defining timeframes for localization is about bringing up details and setting expectations right within, and outside your organization to make sure everyone understands why localization time is recognized as part of the global content value chain. You can also highlight why oversimplification does not make it faster.
Here are some guidelines to shape and maintain localization planning in a way that is as realistic and comprehensive as possible:
- Consider the amount of the source content. The total word count is a major factor as it is closely related to human productivity. On the one hand, each linguist can translate and localize a maximum volume of content each day. On the other hand the speed and amount of localized content depends on how technology such as machine translation is leveraged, and specifically how it is combined with human tasks such as post editing. Localizing repetitive content, and re-using previously localized content, come to play when estimating the overall localization cycle.
- Consider the nature of the source content. Digital content covers a variety of fields and industries. It also ranges from user interface strings to help pages, or online terms and conditions to name but a few. Some types of content may require more time to be localized due to sensitivity, complexity, or singularity. Standardized labels and dialogs in applications are often faster to localize than narrative e-learning modules or commercial agreements.
- Consider all target languages and locales in scope. Language services and in-country resources may be quite scarce when having to localize content for some international markets. Myanmar has been a recent example of this. As a result the availability of most appropriate resources must be taken into account which includes local constraints (e.g. national holidays) or practices (e.g. duration of working days and weeks).
- Consider source and target content engineering. Digital content may involve various native formats which means that conversion and transaction must be incorporated in plans from the outset. Simply put you have to schedule steps to collect all final source files, transfer these files between various locations, extract content to localize and import localized content back in the final files.
- Consider specifications of target ecosystems. More often than not digital content has to be localized to be usable and actionable in various channels and therefore potentially in more end user formats than only original formats. You can think about news, campaigns, or product descriptions that have to be effective on web or mobile properties, as well as on third party sites. Based on content delivery requirements you should ensure the proper testing and certification of localized content in omnichannel environments globally is reflected in the timeframe.
- Consider the engagement of internal resources and stakeholders. Some localization steps involve people in your organization whether they approve funding or review, and sign off on localized content. Such milestones around roles and responsibilities matter too. Keep in mind that you may have to work across time zones with these people and engage at global, regional, and local levels.
- Consider external resources. If you work with external suppliers you should make sure that each and every step they are responsible for is clearly stated, defined, and timed. From this perspective working with a couple of “one-stop-shop” suppliers that are real business partners brings more value over time than using a myriad of vendors as it saves much time within your organization while setting accountabilities in stone.
- Consider check points along the way. In addition to phasing and structuring the localization supply and management chain it is worth including check points that help make it agile and safe. Expecting the unexpected remains part of many globalization and localization challenges. So check points become planning assets by making you ready to reduce the number of iterations or avoid quality issues before localized content is finalized.
Planning all localization activities and imperatives sheds more light on localization processes and plans of records. So they are more transparent and understandable for yourself, your team and your stakeholders. Moreover it prevents some people from oversimplifying localization and enables you to create meaningful indicators to measure localization performance and success subsequently.