Make Language Quality Your Foundation: 10 Essential Questions to Answer Before Starting Your Localization Program
If your business is getting started with localization, you’ll avoid costly headaches by creating a strong foundation from the start. That means comprehensive planning to know where you’re heading and what resources you’ll need.
At every step of your plans, keep language quality in mind. Strong linguistic quality speeds up localization, keeps translations on-target, and reduces the risk of damaging errors. By making it a priority, you increase your chances of reaching your localization goals.
Before leaping into localization, make sure you know the answers to these 10 big questions. We’ve broken each one down further to help you clarify your path, with a special focus on decisions that affect language quality.
- Who will make the decisions?
- Who will be your localization program manager: an in-house team member, or an outside contractor? Who will they report to?
- Who owns each step in the localization process, including language quality assessment and review?
- Who will arbitrate disagreements about linguistic issues—for example, between translators and language quality reviewers? Will someone inside your organization have the final say, or will it be an outside contractor or vendor?
- What’s your budget?
- What is your overall budget for localization? How much are you able to set aside for:
- Language quality assessment and review?
- What allocation of resources will you need to optimize the quality of translation? What risks do you run if your translations fail to meet the right standard? What tradeoffs can you afford to make between language quality and other goals?
- What is your strategy?
- What are your goals for localization, given your business and product? (For example, are you looking for technical accuracy, on-brand messaging, or a consistent user experience across markets?) Which of your goals have the highest priority?
- If you have a product, what is it? How easily can your product be transferred to another market? Will it need extensive adaptation for a new cultural context?
- What are your ideal target markets—the ones that match your product or service the best? Where would you like to expand?
- Which language quality objectives align with your goals and priorities? What quality standards, metrics, and assessment methods match those objectives the best?
- What are your timeline and priorities?
- How quickly do you need to go to market? What language is the highest priority for you (tier 1)? How long will it take for you to penetrate this initial market?
- Have you identified the languages you plan to target afterward (tier 2, 3, and so on)? How rapidly do you want to expand to additional countries or regions?
- How will you ensure that linguistic quality assurance keeps pace with your expansion? What resources and processes do you need to build out at every stage?
- What human resources will you need to achieve your goals?
- How much work do you plan to outsource? Which types of work will you keep in-house?
- How many people will you employ at program launch? Will you use a third-party localization agency, internal staff, or a combination of both? Roles to consider include:
- Localization manager
- Translation team
- Language leads
- Review or editing team
- Language quality assurance team
- Who will support each of your target languages as language leads? Will these language leads be in-house staff members or outside contractors?
- Who will perform language quality assessments? Do you have the resources to carry out this work in-house? Or will you outsource it to a third-party service?
- How will the localization process work?
- Have you defined your entire workflow from beginning to end? What team members are involved at each stage? Who is responsible for ensuring each step is completed accurately and on time?
- Have you developed clear linguistic guidelines for each target language? If not, who will develop those guidelines?
- What steps will be involved in language quality assessment and review? Will it include an arbitration and rebuttal phase so that translators can respond to assessments of their work?
- How will you handle content creation?
- Who will produce the source content? Will your localization team play any role in creating content—and if so, how?
- Which audiences are you targeting? Is the content aimed at any specific cultures and languages?
- Will you take any steps to make later localization easier (for example, by using simplified English)? Will you adapt the content for a specific translation process, such as raw machine translation or post-editing?
- How will you handle translation?
- Who will translate your content? Will you rely on in-house staff or outsource to a language service provider?
- What techniques will you use: human translation, machine translation, or a combination of both? Will the translation process include an editing or proofreading phase? If so, who will perform these tasks?
- What kind of feedback do your translators need to meet your quality standards and improve their work over time? What metrics will you (or your language quality management provider) use to assess the quality of translations?
- What tools and technologies will you use?
- What technologies does your localization process require? What specific products best suit your needs? Are you going to license software from outside vendors, or develop proprietary tools in-house?
- Will machine translation (MT) play a role? If so, how much will you rely on raw MT? How many human steps, if any, will you build in to ensure high-quality translation—for example, through post-editing?
- Will you use any automated steps or processes to guarantee language quality? Will you use feedback from human quality reviewers to improve the quality of MT?
- How will you ensure objective, expert assessments of language quality?
- Does your language quality review team (whether outsourced or in-house) have the right mix of linguistic skill and subject-matter expertise? Do they use up-to-date language quality metrics and assessment frameworks?
- If you plan to outsource your quality assessments, will you entrust them to a conventional localization agency? Or will you work with a third-party provider that specializes in language quality management?
Plan Now, Save Time and Money Later
If you struggle with any of these questions, take your time to fill in the blanks. By thinking through the challenges you face in advance, you can prevent many issues that will be expensive to clean up down the road.
No matter how well you plan, you’ll always face issues with language quality—but you can overcome them with the right methods and expertise.
Learn more by downloading Beyont’s free white paper: The Language Quality Solution: How Linguistic Quality Assessment Drives Localization Success.