Many of us have encountered a fair share of translation blunders, whether on billboards or while scrolling down our favorite social media apps. It may give us a good GIGGLE! But after a while, we start to decode the possibilities of what must have gone wrong there. Either the translation wasn’t rechecked before it went public, or the brand must have hired a random translation guy over Fiverr.
Regardless of the reason behind the blunder, localization that fails to make the mark is a costly mistake. Localization is the secret ingredient brands use to introduce their offerings to foreign markets and expand their customer base. Failure to do a decent job with localization hurts the business’ brand image while ultimately restricting the company from leveraging the golden opportunity of scalability to new markets.
Thus, we decided to curate a guide solely focused on the secrets to building a winning localization team. So, if you are a business looking to tap into foreign markets with full preparation, this guide is FOR YOU! Continue reading to uncover tips that will help you go a long way.
But before we dive into the intricacies of building a localization team. It is crucial to first understand the concept.
So, without hovering around, let’s come straight to the POINT!
What Is A Localization Team?
A group of individuals responsible for kick-starting, managing, and executing large localization projects for your business expansion is known as a localization team.
However, they may not formally be given the title of a localization team member as there can be dozens of people from different departments supporting your localization project manager throughout the process.
Typically, large enterprises employ localization teams in-house, such as Facebook, Netflix, Uber, etc. A localization team generally consists of people with varying skills, including marketing, organizing, and collaboration. But, medium-sized firms also require a localization team. Companies that don’t want to deal with the complexities of investing in the infrastructure, expensive equipment, and hiring a team opt for outsourcing their localization project to a professional localization firm like Limegreen Media.
Before setting up your A-team for the localization project, it is important to first understand the localization process. It will help you gain clarity into what your team should expect moving forward and what role each team member will play.
So, it’s time we start unraveling the secrets to building a winning localization team.
SECRET # 1 – Understand Your Localization Project and Process
To build a successful localization team, you need to start from the very beginning because every project is unique. Reiterate your localization strategy and the questions you asked during its development when deciding who should be on your localization team.
These questions can be, but are not limited to the following:
1. How BIG Is Your Localization Project?
If your localization project is a website, it will involve the website content and social media marketing, offline marketing materials, legal documents, etc. Similarly, if it is a media project, such as a movie or series, you can either decide on whether to go with dubbing, subtitling, or both, and also consider other marketing activities that need localization.
2. What Is Your Target Language?
This question is crucial because it is directly related to how many markets you are planning on tapping into and understanding how many languages your target markets speak. Since several countries speak more than one official language.
3. What Is The Deadline of the Project?
When are you planning on launching your offering into your target markets? It is another integral question that needs clarity. If you don’t have a clear deadline, regardless of your team’s skills, expertise, and size, you will not be able to achieve your desired outcome on time, ultimately exhausting your resources.
Asking a few key questions at the start of forming your localization team can be the difference between winning and losing. The reason? You could be dealing with more than one new market, feel the need to translate the entire website or a chunk of it, or may want to pursue subtitling or dubbing for your video files, etc. The possibilities are endless. Therefore, understanding your localization project and its process is necessary for limiting the scope of your project and wasting your resources and time on unnecessary activities.
SECRET # 2 – Decide on the Localization Team Model
Now that you have understood the benefit of identifying more details about your localization project, the next step is deciding on the localization team model. Based on your feasibility, keeping in mind your budget, project complexity, and time, you can choose either of the three localization team models we are about to discuss below:
1. In-house Centralized Localization Team Model
Usually, large enterprises use this approach. A standalone centralized localized crew is assembled and devoted to most if not all, localization-related tasks. Hiring new staff members with project-related experience is usually necessary.
2. In-house with Localization Duties Spread Across Existing Teams
In this localization team model, team members concentrate on more than just localization. Although their main responsibilities may be in development, design, or marketing, they also work on localization projects when necessary. Multimedia localization and translation are two examples of elements that are usually outsourced.
3. Outsourced Localization Team Model
In this model, the entire process is outsourced to a localization agency. An internal project manager is assigned by the company to work closely with the agency, and they may consult with other teams inside the organization as needed.
SECRET # 3 – What Roles Should Be In Your Localization Team?
Determining the roles and responsibilities is likely to be one of your first tasks if you decide to build an internal team. It is crucial to keep in mind both the positions you will need as your localization efforts grow and the roles you need right now when doing this.
You may maximize productivity and achieve consistent quality by assembling a structured team that balances roles appropriately. This will put you in a good position to scale your localization efforts when necessary.
Your localization team ideally should have the following roles:
1. A Localization Project Manager (PM)
The localization PM acts as the backbone, keeping everything together. From the beginning to the end, the localization manager is responsible for the entire project. They are in charge of organizing, directing, and supervising the localization procedure. This includes allocating duties to localization team members, establishing the budget, deciding the schedule, guaranteeing quality, and resolving any issues that may come up.
This role requires strong leadership, communication, and organizational skills. Many people choose to become Project Management Professionals (PMPs). However, the Localization Institute also offers a certification course exclusively for localization.
2. Localization Engineers
These are the IT experts. These engineers are in charge of tasks like text extraction, format conversion, and glossary creation to prepare files and resources for the localization process. It’s their responsibility to resolve technical issues, such as bugs and compatibility concerns, as they arise. Some people combine this with working as a software engineer.
This role requires strong technical abilities, including scripting, testing, debugging, and programming, along with a firm understanding of localization formats and standards.
Translation is the HEART of localization. Content from the source language is converted to the target language by translators. Their objective is to capture the core of the information and make sure it is culturally appropriate, not to translate it literally.
This role requires proficiency in both the source and target languages at the native or near-native level, cultural sensitivity, and subject matter knowledge. It also helps to have hands-on experience with translation software.
Numerous language pairs are certified by the American Translators Association (ATA), and certifications are also offered by other regional associations across the globe.
They serve as safety nets, catching any translation errors. Editors check the text for accuracy, coherence, and clarity after translation.
This role requires competency in the target language at the native or near-native level and knowledge of the subject matter and culture.
There is no common certification because editors are specific to the languages you are localizing for. However, they can pursue any local certifications or skills.
They are the last line of defense. Proofreaders review content for spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and layout issues before it is posted online or sent to the customer.
This role requires flawless command of the target language and an acute sense of even the smallest mistakes.
6. Linguistic Testers
Linguistic testers ensure the localized product functions flawlessly in the target language and environment after the translation and proofreading process is complete. They search for problems such as text misalignment, text truncation, and improper graphic display.
This role requires attention to detail and an aptitude for identifying problems related to functionality or localization.
For language testers, a particular certification isn’t available. Nonetheless, it can be helpful to have knowledge of their target languages and take software testing courses, such as those offered by the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB).
7. Cultural Consultants
They are the team’s spirit. Linguists concentrate on language, but cultural consultants ensure the content is appropriate for the target audience’s culture. They offer perceptions of the target audience’s norms, rules, values, and customs.
This role requires a thorough understanding of the target market and culture, and the capacity to offer helpful criticism on the adaptation of design and content.
There’s no set certification process. However, having experience in sociology, anthropology, or regional studies can be beneficial. Courses or seminars on cultural competency can also help cultural consultants.
8. Marketing Team
Your marketing guys are the promoters of your localization product. They plan and carry out marketing initiatives specific to the intended audience. They are responsible for ensuring the material not only sells in the local market but also translates well.
This role requires a talent for specialized marketing tactics, a grasp of the target customer’s behavior and culture, and the capacity to modify international campaigns for regional use.
A background in international marketing or a national institution qualification is not required, although it can be helpful. Besides, practical experience in the intended market is a BIG advantage.
SECRET # 4 – Empower Your Team with Automation
To optimize your localization efforts and achieve long-term scalability, a sturdy support system is also necessary. In addition to technology like translation memory databases, machine translation, translation management software, term bases, and so on, this could also involve procedures and support personnel.
Since the most expensive part of localization is usually human labor, you should think about automating any manual processes without compromising quality. Your staff will be able to concentrate on their strengths, and human error will be reduced, all while optimizing your localization budget.
SECRET # 5 – Communication, Cooperation, and Teamwork
Most significantly, cooperation, communication, and teamwork are key to creating a successful localization team. Many individuals may be involved in the localization project, including linguists, subject matter experts, product developers, and translation project managers. Greater things are possible when individuals with various skill sets work together and contribute. This formula applies to many kinds of initiatives, not just localization.
A successful team is shaped by shared accountability and the “us” and “ours” mentality. All localization team members benefit from having an ownership mindset, facilitating improved cooperation, communication, and teamwork. Since this is “our” project, team members can voice their opinions and concerns more easily because of the open communication style.
This approach is also useful while attempting to find solutions to difficult challenges that may arise throughout your localization project lifecycle. As a result, all parties benefit in the end!
SECRET # 6 – Manage Your Budget Wisely
Remember that when it comes to the people, technology, and suppliers you choose, CHEAP is not always the best option. Reducing the number of things to localize or the number of languages to work with can result in higher-quality work rather than trying to cut corners and sacrificing quality.
Localization involves a wide range of stakeholders, including those who commission and approve localization initiatives. Even though many of them won’t be on your localization team, practically all of them can affect your productivity and expenses by, say, creating duplication or delays. Therefore, you must take that into account when developing your stakeholder management strategy.
SECRET # 7 – Training and Development
Building a champion localization team isn’t just about picking the right players – it’s about honing their skills to the highest levels. That’s where training and development come in, acting like a secret sauce that elevates your team from good to GREAT.
Think of it this way: Even the most seasoned linguist might stumble upon cultural nuances in a new market. Or, a tech whiz might struggle with the intricacies of legal document translation. That’s where targeted training comes in, plugging those knowledge gaps and ensuring everyone’s firing on all cylinders.
But training isn’t a one-time event – it’s a continuous journey. Regular workshops on industry trends, emerging technologies in localization, and market-specific cultural sensitivities keep your team sharp and adaptable. Plus, investing in language courses or cross-cultural training fosters empathy and understanding, leading to more authentic and impactful localization.
The benefits of a well-trained team are undeniable. Higher quality translations, faster turnaround times, and fewer blunders become the norm, boosting customer satisfaction and brand reputation. Besides, a team that feels valued and invested in is a team that’s motivated, engaged, and more likely to stick around – crucial in a talent-hungry field like localization.
So, remember, training and development aren’t just expenses – they’re strategic investments that pay off in spades. By nurturing your team’s skills and knowledge, you unlock their full potential and pave the way for localization victories in every market you conquer.
This secret, along with the others we have unveiled, will transform your ragtag group into a localization dream team, ready to take your brand to GLOBAL GLORY!
How to Measure Your Localization Team’s Performance? – KPIs
After your team is assembled, you need to ensure that each member contributes at their best level to the group. Therefore, you must develop a set of KPIs for the team as a whole, for each team member individually, or for both to assess the effectiveness of your localization efforts.
The following are some examples of localization key performance indicators (KPIs):
- Translation speed, or the volume of translations finished in a given amount of time
- Translation accuracy in percentage (or translation errors in percentage)
- Ratio of on-time deliveries to deadline extensions
- Translation cost per X number of words
- Rate of customer acquisition for the new target market
- Total localization cost as a percentage of revenue
- Social media engagement rate
You should identify the metrics that are significant to your localization project to make it more predictable and evaluate the localization efforts of each participant on your localization team.
Your localization team is more than translators sprinkling the linguistic magic dust on your localization project. It is a group of people who bring their diverse skills and experience to the table to help you bring your dream localization project to life.
This guide explored seven secrets to help you build your localization team from scratch. Using the same tips, you can also optimize the skills of your existing localization team. Toward the end, we also discussed some key metrics you can monitor to measure your localization team’s performance. HAPPY LOCALIZATION!