Clients who are new to localization often find that the most daunting aspect of it is managing all the moving parts that go into a typical project. The best way to avoid many of these headaches, of course, is simply to choose the right vendor: at EC Innovations, we have a very strong project management team who can take away a lot of those headaches for you. But even with a strong partner, you may find it a bit overwhelming, so here are some basic tips.
1) Make sure you are assigned an experienced vendor-side project manager, not just a language lead from the translation team. Just as project managers are not trained translators, translators are not usually trained project managers, and project management is a discipline in its own right. You need an experienced professional to help keep things organized and moving along.
2) Identify all the stakeholders in advance and bring them on board as soon as possible. This is a critical success factor, especially when it comes to in-house reviewers and anyone else who will be signing off on localized material. If you are going to be asking a marketing manager in your Munich office to review 20,000 words of German marketing material next month, you need to bring that person on board and get their sign-in now. This is doubly important when the people reviewing the material are not professional, full-time reviewers, because a) this requested effort is usually in addition to their full-time duties; and b) you need to prepare them in advance to ensure they fully understand what is and is not in scope for a review. (Contact me for a great checklist for non-professional reviewers to use.)
3) Tear down the walls of communication! The more directly all the team members can communicate the less gets ‘lost in translation’ (pun entirely intended). Don’t be a gatekeeper of your resources if that means you turn into a bottleneck and/or someone who might not be qualified to process the necessary information. Example: if your vendor-side localization engineer has some technical details to work out on a software localization project, don’t try to be the go-between for that engineer and your in-house engineer (unless of course you are qualified to address the issue yourself): let them talk directly! The same goes with reviewers and translators: you will get a much better result if your vendor lead can speak directly to the person who will be reviewing the material. They can communicate in the target language and discuss the problem directly, leading to faster and better answers, which in turn leads to higher quality. (Of course, make sure everything is documented in your chosen query management medium, since the outputs may help in other languages if they are queries about the source.)
4) Don’t try to manage by email! Email is a communication tool, not a problem-solving tool or a management tool. If status updates, queries and other key project information end up in the body of emails, you will soon find your project in chaos. Document everything in your project management tool, or, if you are managing it manually, then in project documents that are stored in a shared area such as a SharePoint or FTP. Your PM should be responsible for keeping these projects up to date.
Following these basic tips can help your team avoid distortions in the communication process as you embark on your localization initiatives. Feel free to contact me for more helpful hints on how to manage successful localization projects.