You’ve realized the opportunities and value of localization, implemented a pilot or larger-scale project, and things are ticking along nicely. But could they be smoother? Streamlining your workflow can make the process quicker, simpler, and more efficient - increasing stakeholder buy-in, decreasing localization costs, and freeing up bandwidth for expanding or introducing new localization projects. Here are five steps you can take to increase workflow efficiency.
1. Plan ahead
The best way to streamline your project is to pay sufficient attention to your strategy before implementation. It’s crucial to identify the target market that will give you the best impact and to test your assumptions with a pilot, but you should also sanity-check your KPIs and objectives. Do they measure what’s important? Do they match your company targets and goals for the next quarter or year? Strategic planning is the best way to increase efficiency and simplify your localization process. Otherwise, you risk the whole project becoming a waste of time and resources.
2. Optimize communication
Stakeholder alignment often determines whether a localization initiative is ultimately a success or failure. Localization projects, by their very nature, involve several departments or external agencies. All will have their own ideas and interpretations, increasing the risk of siloes and misinformation.
Considering workflow best practices from the start is the best way to keep your team aligned. Document deliverables, KPIs, timelines, and expectations, and consider adding progress reports. Determine all the key stakeholders and departments that need to be kept in the loop and coordinate communication to avoid scope and timeline drift. It’s best to have one central point of contact teams can liaise with; generally, this should be your localization manager.
3. Look to technology
It’s important to keep up with new developments, but equally important to remember that when it comes to localization, no one size fits all. Consider the tools and methods best for you and your process rather than blindly following trends. Do you have in-house translators, or would you consider an LSP? Does your localization require dubbing, or will subtitles suffice?
Look at areas that are particularly clunky or that regularly cause bottlenecks. Unless you’re constantly on the pulse, the fast-changing nature of translation technology means it's likely solutions you're not even aware of could dramatically improve performance. AI capabilities, for example, have massively matured in sophistication over the last couple of years.
As well as translation software, look at your internal tooling. Considering project management software or a translation management system could further reduce siloes and increase cross-team alignment. You’ll want to think through how each element slots together to ensure a slick overall process.
4. Pay extra attention to Quality Assurance
Adding extra steps might seem counterintuitive, especially if you have limited time or resources. However, spending time optimizing your QA processes can have an extraordinary impact on your results. It's not a one-and-done process, either: pay attention to this part of your workflow to quickly streamline or boost efficiencies as and when bottlenecks or siloes occur.
The main aim of a QA process is to ensure consistency in your localization efforts. For this to happen, you need a well-considered baseline and the tools to enable its achievement. If you are using human translators, will they always have translation capacity? Have you briefed them on industry-specific requirements, and have they received feedback and corrections from previous QA loops to minimize the chance of errors reoccurring? You might want to add explanatory comments with industry terms to your uploaded text. If you are using machine learning, many solutions have translation memory and will store translation best practices for future use.
Make sure you have a thorough process in place for reviewing translated content, too. It’s good to produce written assessment criteria for your content to ensure objectivity and track translator performance. Your assessment process should check formatting, spelling, grammar, and tone as a minimum.
Papercup’s QA glossary.
5. Iterate based on your results
The biggest mistake you can make with your localization workflow is to assume that because something works now, it always will. Such presumptions are the quickest way to bloated, ineffective workflows that don’t perform against your key performance indicators or produce a positive ROI.
To avoid this, once a project is live, continuously assess how it performs in the market. Are you hitting your KPIs and targets? Are any results unexpected? Scheduling project reviews with key stakeholders and departments can be a great learning experience for your organization and improve the efficacy of future projects. Always consider what learnings you can take forward into your next project.
With so many moving parts, it’s possible to improve even the most sophisticated localization workflow. Consider the five steps above in your own projects and watch stakeholder satisfaction grow as your lean, mean localization machine delivers.