Break Free of Localization Bottlenecks: How to Minimize Delays and Keep Projects Rolling
As a localization manager, you know the risks of falling behind schedule. Slipping milestones and missed deadlines can lead to late product launches, unhappy stakeholders, and higher overall costs.
But never fear! With thoughtful preparation and planning, you can prevent time-consuming bottlenecks from holding you back. Language quality management and automation are especially critical tools for streamlining localization, whether you work with an outside vendor or an internal translation team.
Want to stay on schedule with less hassle and stress? Start with these best practices to keep your projects running at a brisk pace.
- Centralize your workflow. Localization should follow a single centralized workflow under your control. Make sure everyone knows exactly who is responsible for which tasks at each stage of localization. Likewise, it should be crystal-clear which steps are required to complete each stage and hand it off to whoever is next in line.
Create clear guidelines and process documents and ensure your entire team follows them consistently. These documents should detail every step in the workflow, outline emergency protocols, and define who owns each stage of the process.
Once you’ve established your standard procedures, you can improvise more if needed—but always keep your centralized workflow and process document at the core of your efforts. If you do that, it will be far easier to manage any snags and stay on track.
To help with implementation, you can provide team members with checklists, highlight tasks that can be completed in parallel, and clarify dependencies between tasks. This will help you reduce dead time and keep work moving along.
- Streamline communication. The best way to do this is to provide a shared workspace for all the teams and people involved in localization, from start to finish.
When everyone collaborates in the same space, they can avoid time-consuming breakdowns in communication. Everyone knows what’s happening and what needs to be done, and they can quickly get the help they need from others—for instance, if they haven’t received an item they need to complete their step in the process.
- Establish linguistic guidelines from the start. Without clear directions, your language specialists may fall short of expectations for consistency and accuracy. That leads to backtracking later on to fix errors. Disagreements can also crop up between different specialists or teams, stalling work while the issue is resolved.
To avoid such problems, be sure to create a unified strategy for voice, tone, and terminology—and develop assets that everyone on your team can use for reference, such as style guides.
Your guidelines can be integrated into your translation management system and other automated tools. That enables you to reduce linguistic flaws and head off disputes before they start.
- Put context at translators’ fingertips. Translators may need specific reference materials to produce accurate work. For instance, they may often refer to screenshots if they are translating software content so they can see how the text, images, and other UI elements look. If they have to manage or search for these materials, that’s an unnecessary drain on their work time.
To address this problem, make sure your translators have easy access to the context they need.
Translation management systems and language quality tools such as ContentQuo can integrate reference materials such as screenshots so that they’re just a click away. That means faster, more error-free translations, fewer delays, and less backtracking.
- Ensure the right content is translated the first time. Time-consuming problems can result when the correct content is not flagged for translation.
For example, software localization sometimes requires separating embedded strings of code from content that needs to be translated. When this isn’t done properly, translators can waste valuable time going back to deal with material that fell through the cracks.
Fortunately, automation can help you solve this problem as well.
Translation management systems and language quality management tools can tag and isolate any content that needs to be translated so your translators don’t miss anything. In addition, clear procedures and guidelines are needed to ensure team members enter the right information in the first place.
- Streamline arbitration for language quality reviews. Your organization can improve quality and avoid time-consuming rework by having subject-matter experts (preferably from a third-party provider) vet your translations.
Language quality reviews typically include a rebuttal phase, allowing translators to push back against recommendations they don’t like. As valuable as this process is, debates between translators, reviewers, and stakeholders can chew up a lot of time.
Make sure to limit the scope of rebuttals and clarify who will resolve linguistic disagreements. The arbitrator could be you, or your language quality management service if you use one. Either way, someone needs the authority to end discussions before they drag on too long.
- Use reviewer feedback to speed up translation. Human translators and automated systems alike may repeat the same inaccuracies over and over, leading to backtracking and delays later on. Expert reviewers can not only correct mistakes, but also provide insights and suggestions to improve language quality over time.
This feedback loop can speed up localization as your translation team and machine learning tools become better and better at their work. What’s more, knowledge gains for one language often work for another. As a result, you can optimize localization for all languages and cut work time across the board.
The Power of Planning
Some setbacks are inevitable in localization (for example, if you lose a key team member at the wrong time). But by applying best practices, you can reduce the number of bottlenecks you face and minimize their impact.
Ultimately, most delays result from inadequate planning and strategy. The more you make decisions on the fly, the more you risk slowdowns caused by miscommunication, errors, and lack of central coordination.
A strong plan for language quality management, supported by third-party reviews and subject-matter experts, can help you meet your deadlines and break down the barriers in your way. That means less hassle and stress for you—and better results for your localization program and your company.
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