Globalization Team: Growing and Scaling
This is the third and final post on getting your Localization effort off the ground. First post explored the initial phase of planning and setting expectations – How to Plan Website Globalization & Localization . Once you have a support plan for your mission and a system to measure success and report on your team’s contribution.
Second post – Localization Roles and Support Systems – outlined the roles you will need to systematically deliver translations in addition to project management processes, workflows and language service providers (LSPs) to deliver required work. We discussed the size of your team based on the level of your localization function and rate of international growth.
In this post I will talk about growing and scaling your organization. Perhaps, you can do everything alone. You understand the roles. You are completely confident that you can handle all these roles. If you are all these things, stop reading and get yourself a cookie. You deserve it. If you need to plan for the future, however, this post is for you.
Let’s talk about growing and scaling your globalization team, adjusting your staffing levels to multiplying demands of a business which is expanding internationally.
Localization Beginner – Department Of One
What if localization unexpectedly landed on your desk as a bonus addition to your regular job? You are now responsible for translation in addition to your other job functions. Expect to fill Project Manager role, coordinate translations, manage vendors, run QA, create processes.
Project management will occupy most of your time. Hire or borrow a Project Manager, if you can. Look for an experienced and seasoned professional.
Research and select contractors for translation. You can either hire a vendor or enlist a community to crowdsource translation. Good example of translation crowdsourcing is Google In Your Language project: from January to March of 2008, Google launched 256 local-language versions of various products (source). Note, that vendors also help facilitate translation through crowdsourcing. As an alternative, use translation software for crowdsourcing if you prefer to manage the process yourself.
If you crowdsource translations, you will need to manage the new community of translators. You will handle recruiting new members, on-boarding them, conduct performance reviews, address quality issues. Do you think it is easier to hire an agency? You could be right.
You will definitely need help from people whose job is not localization. You will be relying on good will so be ready for your requests will be the lowest priority. In-country teams will help with some translation and with validation of translation accuracy. They will provide terminology, review style guides and localized documents. They might give feedback on messaging and approach that works in their market.
Make friends with engineering or development team – you will need their support for localized site releases, maintenance, design, internationalization. In the end, do not be stingy with showing appreciation and giving credit to people who help you on volunteering basis.
- Localization Lead
- Project Manager
- Engineering support (website, mobile, marketing programs and campaigns)
- Translations (vendors, community, documentation, customer support, etc.)
- Volunteers (in-country teams to provide linguistic support, QA, development of localized website functionality, etc.)
You are no longer a beginner once you have established and documented project management processes, when your LSPs are lined up and deliver translations. At this stage you will need to be ready to scale and deliver higher content volumes, expand language support, optimize and automate processes.
At this stage, add specialized people to your team – linguistic QA specialists, localization engineers, community coordinators, vendor managers. The localization team lead ideally will have expertise in operations, building and managing virtual teams, can think strategically and execute quickly and effectively, be an industry subject expert, manage vendors and budgets.
When you are evaluating candidates to add to your team, select the ones with project management experience. You will need them to be comfortable working on both operational and strategic levels. They should be able to implement new processes, execute projects in concert with other teams that do not consider localization their first priority. They will need to train and coordinate in-house resources.
Make a good business case for the resources you need and keep hiring or outsourcing essential roles to keep up with expanding localization requirements. Do not rush into adding new languages and expanding translation support. Create a healthy balance between staffing your in-house team and utilizing language service providers (LSPs). Alignment of the teams with the services they offer should be your highest priority. It is advisable to start thinking about centralization of localization function.
- Linguistic QA specialists
- Localization engineers
- Community managers
- Vendor Coordinator
Your localization operation is humming along nicely if established processes, defined functions set your enterprise apart. Scaling to meet the increasing demand becomes your biggest concern. You are juggling not only many languages in many markets, but multiple publishing platforms as well. Good for you! Way to go.
Make your life easier and centralize budgets, linguistic assets, technology (TMS, for example). Consolidate your translation memory (TM) and leverage it across enterprise. Involve procurement department to re-negotiate translation fees. Utilize multiple LSPs to optimize for faster high quality result.
Centralization helps on many levels when you are running an expansive operation. You should be ready to establish Localization Center of Excellence. You should be able to align your team to match current and projected service offerings. This means you need to have solid program management support, tight vendor management with evaluation of translation quality, and robust automation that includes machine translation and artificial intelligence integration (AI).
In this advanced stage, your organization is not only providing translation, but training services as well. You can scale quickly. You documented and formalized all processes. Program managers, quality assurance specialists, vendor managers, localization and automation engineers have joined your organization. Translation teams have formal training and on-boarding process. Your team should be a member of a group with enterprise-wide responsibility, such as Customer Experience, Customer Quality Assurance, Global Operations, Compliance, etc.
- Community Manager (if working with translation communities)
- Program Manager with training and documentation support responsibilities
- Technology Program Manager (automation and globalization technology)
- Translation Tools and Technology Project Manager
- QA Project Manager
- Operations Project Manager
- Vendor Project Manager
- Production Project Manager
- Client Liaison – Project Manager who is responsible for working with regions.
Growing Globalization Team & Scaling – Final Thoughts
At each stage, match your organizational chart and staff expertise to the services you offer.
In beginning stages of establishing Localization function in your enterprise company, you will be working alone, scrambling to deliver localized products. You will be relying on volunteer resources in your company. You will realize that internal business processes do not fully support globalization and will begin to integrate your needs into existing processes. Establish early on who is responsible for translation. Beware of the translation scope creep when translation demands grow and there are not enough resources and funding for full time employees.
In a more established organization, there are basic project management processes established to track translations. You are a practitioner, who is looking to hire to scale and expand your organization. Be careful not to get stuck constantly fighting fires if your team is not aligned with the services you offer. Understand what you are supposed to deliver and carefully consider who you need to hire to help you scale and expand.
If you are a seasoned professional , who is experienced and skilled in running a globalization department, you have a mature organization to look after. Yet, you still might be struggling to establish scalable solutions for increasing volumes of content. You might administer multiple publishing platforms and service growing numbers of markets and languages. It might be time for you to centralize. Do not fail to realize that you need to start the transition to Globalization Center of Excellence.
Does your company have a globalization strategy? Do you localize your products? Which stage of localization function are you in right now? Do you plan to expand? Do you have a plan to scale? Share in comments.