The simultaneous sense of joy and relief that comes from launching your first localized website tends to paper over any cracks in the underlying translation strategy.
The bilingual employees who doubled as impromptu translators? The developers who donated their nights and weekends? Those extraordinary efforts can easily be rationalized as temporary, character building activities that brought the whole company a little closer together.
But while these victories do have value, it’s important to acknowledge that translation is rarely a one-off initiative.
Assuming your first foray into multilingual content shows promise, global aspirations will likely put additional languages on your agenda. And when you come to that fork in the content roadmap, your formerly functional translation strategy could be stretched in unexpected ways.
More Talent To Recruit
More languages inevitably require a deeper bench of linguistic experts. Sooner or later, even companies with the most multilingual staff will hit a point of diminishing returns when trying to take advantage of their employees’ secondary skills. And depending on how niche the target language is, even those already engaged with freelance or agency translators may need to add another vendor to their list.
Translators, editors, and reviewers aren’t the only collaborators to consider, either. Regional marketing and sales staff are often required to truly capitalize on the localized content you’ll be creating. At the same time, your growing catalog of content may introduce new logistical challenges that can only be solved by bringing a dedicated project manager (or two) on board.
The most impactful talent management decision, however, may be clearing a path for the technical experts you already have on staff. If occasional weekend work turns into nights-and-weekends work for your developers, business innovation and employee satisfaction will surely suffer. As a result, many localization teams are adding artificial intelligence to their payroll in the form of specialized translation software.
More People To Align
More contributors can only add more value if you coordinate their efforts effectively. Unfortunately, a growing cast of localization collaborators can create entirely new people problems.
The small squad of officemates who helped launch your first language or two could quickly become a subdivision of a larger localization army distributed across several continents. As a result, the shoulder taps and email reminders that used to keep a project swimming along smoothly will no longer suffice. In these instances, a more sophisticated and centralized system of record is required to reduce headaches and maintain momentum.
Giving everyone access to a common collaboration platform isn’t a solution in and of itself, though. From SharePoint to Dropbox, user satisfaction has always played a part in dictating the success of the tool.
One surefire way to inspire smooth adoption is to select a solution that’s flexible enough to support the habits and preferences of every user. Settling for rigid translation workflows that fail to account for the endless variability between different languages, linguists, and content types will only spawn the kind of individual workarounds that are impossible to track.
More Pressure To Perform
Translating content into more languages costs more money. That’s not news to anyone. What may be news, however, is the notion that not every dollar is invested with similar expectations.
Most companies launch their translation strategies with a pilot project mentality. Teams pick a target language with clear upside, translate a website or app in its entirety, and handle the accounting afterward. That subtotal is then used to decide if and when content plans expand into additional languages.
When that budget does materialize, though, executives tend to expect flatter learning curves and fatter marketing returns. And with expectations outpacing budget growth in most cases, translation strategies must become more tactical.
The first levers to consider pulling involve the content itself. By prioritizing your catalog according to audience value, you’ll likely find that source content doesn’t need to be translated in its entirety at the outset (if at all). Additionally, you can often assign less expensive translation resources and less intensive review processes to some of your long-tail content.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that localization investments always include more than the just the external cost of language services. The internal cost of employee effort can be just as significant as your number of supported languages grow. By finding technical solutions capable of controlling these expenses, however, the cost of adding new languages becomes increasingly affordable.