Simple Actions for Achieving More Efficient Localization Processes
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While the goal for project management has long been full automation (“lights-out”), few organizations achieve it – not for translation nor interpreting services, neither at LSPs nor enterprises. Many teams have tools and processes in place to enable touch-free workflows, yet our research demonstrates a huge gap between “we have the system” and “we are using it.” While some organizations use lights-out processes for a vast amount of translation work – even most of their projects – generally, it’s a latent opportunity that few are benefiting from.
And yet you don’t have to automate every single process to benefit. Simple changes in how projects are planned, prepared, requested, and paid for can mean shorter timelines, fewer errors, less rework, and happier vendors. We list four focus areas that our research indicates are problem areas, which might have simple but rewarding fixes.
- Financial processes. Whether ordering projects with multiple purchase orders on the buy side or trying to pay hundreds of individual freelancers in many currencies through a variety of payment methods at an LSP, there are better ways. Challenges multiply when project management and workflow software don’t interact directly with business and financial systems – again, there are solutions.
- Unused portals or automation. Investments in self-service features often go awry, not because of inherent problems with the tools, but because they simply don’t fit the intended audience. A beautifully designed and user-friendly portal is useless if the person it’s intended for doesn’t have access credentials due to internal security policies they cannot change, or because they need a laptop or tablet rather than a phone to easily enter details.
- Non-optimal content types. Yes, people still send PDFs to translation. Yes, they still leave track changes on in Microsoft Word, forget to hide columns in spreadsheets, and don’t provide instructions for tagged file formats. And they still bundle up a mix of file types and processes and special instructions in an attempt to minimize the number of projects – or avoid minimum project fees – but all of this backfires when a project manager (PM) must then detangle everything.
- Uncategorized requests. Enterprise customers of LSPs are not always the most organized. Instead of grouping work together based on audience, content or code type, meeting or event needs, or other distinct criteria, it’s all just-another project for the language service provider to deal with. Again, this means a PM must spend time identifying requirements, setting up resources, and ultimately routing the job to the right assets and people.
So, what can you do?
Take a step back and assign time to audit and evaluate your content, processes, and requirements. The results will allow you to identify simple opportunities and maybe unlock the door to a much more efficient, optimized, and timely approach.
- Process analysis. Too many organizations have not recently reviewed their language management processes and workflows. What worked ten or even just a few years ago is not necessarily a good model for today’s projects. While a full process and content audit is advisable – mandatory, even – when planning a major change such as implementing an IMS, TMS, or other workflow system, the same analysis tool can highlight areas where project requestors, PMs, linguists, and subject matter experts today perform repetitive, tedious, manual tasks.
- Content audit. An evaluation of content deliveries against audience personas and experience lifecycles – including an inventory of what’s already available (“content inventory”), and evaluation of common and unique requirements – feeds into your process requirements. The audit identifies automation opportunities, where to share beneficial assets, areas where full automation is the answer, and workflows where the human touch is essential. Then you can group projects with similar requirements – meaning LSPs and project managers know what to expect.
- Automation assessment. Confirm which of your processes are worth focusing on for automation opportunities. Use the flowchart in the report, “Checklist: Is This Worth Automating?” to quickly evaluate your processes.
- Best practices. Even if you’re part of a team that’s been involved with localization for many years, be aware that today people are creating content throughout the organization. Most are unaware of localization best practices and simply don’t know that how they do things that can have a detrimental effect when it comes to translation. Share this set of ten tips for making translation projects more automatable – not only are they good for localization, they help with source content usability, too.
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