Settle These Debates Early For a Tighter Localization Team

Debate is healthy.

At its best, it changes minds and inspires progress. And at its worst, it still leaves participants with the satisfaction of having their ideas heard.

But, as anyone who has sat through a brainstorming session that ran 20 minutes longer than it had to can attest, business debates must eventually give way to business decisions.

Nobody feels good leaving the room without a resolution, and ambiguity only prevents teams from taking productive action. So in the interest of building consensus and achieving objectives, don’t let these localization debates linger.

Centralized vs. Regional Management

Every successful team operates from a clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities. No matter the scenario, each member must know who holds authority and accountability.

In the case of localization, operating structure often dictates management style. Companies with a single base of operations will centralize decision-making by default. There simply aren’t any regional outposts to spread executive powers across.

Companies with global operations face a more difficult question, however.

If you can share management responsibilities among multiple regional offices, then should you?

Regional employees certainly have the advantage of proximity to the customer. As a result, their on-the-ground insights may make them ideal candidates for leading localization efforts. But decentralization does have its drawbacks.

Brand consistency becomes much harder to achieve when multiple groups are independently deciding audience engagement strategies. Additionally, fragmentation limits their ability to leverage efficiencies and learn from each other’s mistakes. As a result, even the most globally-distributed companies tend to benefit from some level of centralization.

Many begin by inviting all their regional teams under the umbrella of a single translation management platform. This shared system of record makes it much easier to set, enforce, and maintain a consistent vision across markets. And more importantly, it also provides localization leaders with a data-based perspective of how certain processes are performing.

With that level of accountability in place, global companies may eventually feel comfortable moving toward a hybrid management model. After the broad strokes of localization strategy are set by a central leader, regional employees can manage logistics like vendors and workflows however they see fit.

However you decide to strike a balance between centralized and regional, though, just make sure there is an explicit answer to where authority lies for every localization decision.

In-house vs. Outsourced Translation

Do you have any bilingual employees capable of translating content in a way that feels authentic to your target audience? Whether the answer is yes or no, the decision to partner with outside professionals or complete translations internally is rarely simple.

If yes, you may have a significant asset working in your favor. Employees will already know the business insights and brand nuances that often take months to communicate to a language services provider (LSP). However, the convenience and efficiency of leveraging in-house talent must always be weighed against the potential cost of employee distraction.

If no, you will most likely need to recruit an LSP. But study the contract terms carefully. Depending on the proposed fee structure and expected volume of content, there might be a legitimate business case for expanding your roster of in-house talent and hiring a translator outright instead.

Many companies end up blending these two approaches as their business evolves and their language coverage expands. But regardless of where your translators lay their laptops, they all need to be treated as vital strategic partners.

Manual vs. Automated Processes

Translation cannot start until content is shared in an interactive format, and it does not end until it’s published in the appropriate channel. How you apply technology toward these first and final requirements will determine much of your localization experience.

Those who try to forge a solution from the tools they have on hand will face a mountain of manual tasks. Developers will have to adapt website or application code to accept multilingual content. Project managers will have to copy and paste text into spreadsheets that get attached to translator emails. And once the final content arrives in their inbox, the two sides will have to agree on a time to actually load the updates.

As a result, it could easily take a month or more for even a single webpage to make the journey from requested content to published asset.

This meandering approach has been the standard operating procedure since the earliest days of website translation. But with the advent of specialized translation management software, companies willing to invest in a more efficient alternative now have several attractive options.

Translation proxy tools, CMS connectors, and custom API solutions can all automatically carry content back and forth between your content platforms and preferred translators. This simple switch radically reduces the amount of manual work localization teams must complete — and elevates everyone involved to a more strategic position.

Time formerly spent on tedious tasks can now be applied toward analyzing and optimizing the moves that matter. As a result, how heavily you invest in process automation is really a reflection of what you believe your time to be worth.

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