Localization is a team effort. Transforming content to ensure it has the same impact in another language and culture involves many stakeholders from content writers and graphic designers to marketing executives and legal staff to the language and culture experts engaged for localization.
It is essential to establish a common language between all stakeholders in the localization process to avoid confusion or misunderstanding about the message’s intent, target audience, and the project’s overall goals. Each stakeholder must have the same understanding about needed input, time, effort, cost, and expected output of each specific task or process. If different stakeholders have different understandings of what a task in the process means, they each have different expectations about the final output from the task or even the whole process.
Take the proofreading step, for example. The client (who does not speak the target language) might expect to receive a ready-to-use final version for proofreading. He or she might be surprised and upset to instead receive an annotated PDF file, or a quality evaluation sheet including a list of errors and suggested changes, or a sheet with the number of errors and quality percentage index. This type of disconnect occurs when the client and the localization team have different definitions of “proofreading.”
The client in this example defines “proofreading” as a final check of a document for any typos or other errors before final use. But the localization team defined “proofreading” as giving the client an opportunity to review a list of errors and suggested changes before creating that final draft.
Even the word “translate” can have different meanings. Most translation industry professionals expect “translate” to include the “TEP” process whereby one linguist translates the source material and a second linguist edits and proofreads. Some suppliers, however, offer a one-step localization process performed by a single linguist, or even a post-edited machine translation process where the content is first translated by a machine and then edited by a human linguist. TEP, single linguist, and post-edited machine translation processes have differing price points and different quality expectations for the final product. Should a client seek quotes from a variety of suppliers and the expectations aren’t clear, the client might be confused by the variety of price quotes and, potentially, disappointed by the end product. This type of disconnect can erode a positive business relationship.
We can list many examples regarding misunderstandings of units of measure, quality standards, human vs. machine translation, pricing, throughputs, sampling, segmentation, communication, and scope. Establishing common language and communication channels between all localization process stakeholders needs to be an integral part of any localization plan, especially when developing a new relationship.
How to Establish a Common Language
Establishing a common language through different documents and communications between stakeholders might include the following:
- Defined communication channels
- Common terminology, including acronyms and abbreviations
- Tasks’ standard naming conventions
- Quality levels and standards
- Quality management process
- Agreed upon task descriptions
- Known inputs and outputs for each task
- Estimated human effort and throughput for each task
- Technology and formats used
- Unified units of measurement for each task
- Procedure, process, and instruction document names and locations
- Clear pricing structures
- Points of contact and roles of all parties
- Deliverable naming and delivery media
- Translation memory matching categories
- Translation and terminology approval levels and process
- Product descriptions and reference materials
- Different language considerations
- Communication through different time zones
Localization planning is an ongoing mutual learning experience and needs to start with setting rules, standards, expectations, and ensuring all parties are on the same page. Spending time and effort establishing a common language is an investment, but you can easily justify the cost of this investment through the expected returns.
The benefits of establishing a common language are vast, including, but not limited to:
- Time efficiencies leading to quicker turnaround times
- Cost efficiencies leading to overall lower costs
- Streamlined processes avoiding delays
- Fewer conflicts
- Less re-work
- On-time delivery with fewer delays
- Reduced risk
- Higher quality end products
The best strategy is to first establish a common language and then continuously update and improve it over time so that it evolves to suit different products’ localization efforts, new languages, and technological changes.
Vocalink Global helps organizations with their localization and translation needs daily. We know the right tools to use to streamline your communication and make your localization project run smoothly. Connect with us today to learn more.