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September 19, 2016

Making localization “better”

This post is the first in a series about the value proposition of localization strategies. You can also see a presentation on this topic at LavaCon this October.

Localization issues are a primary reason companies seek help with a new content strategy. One of the most common questions we hear is, “How do we make our localization process better?”

When we’re asked this question, we turn the question around. What is wrong with your current localization process? What would you like to improve? How do you define “better?”

fast-good-cheapThe answers always fall somewhere on the project management triangle. Localization costs may be too high, localization may take too long or happen too late in the project cycle, or there may be quality issues with the translated content.

Usually when companies say they want “better” localization, they mean that they want to make a combination of improvements; they are paying too much for problematic translations that take too long to produce.

In short, they’re not getting value for their efforts.

Defining localization value

Localization value is usually measured in two ways:

  • Cost: how lean can it get?
  • Quality: how accurate and error-free can it get?

What’s interesting is the absence of “Time” in the value assessment. This absence is largely due to viewing localization as an end-game process. To measure and see the powerful value of time, we must look at time to market.

How much of a revenue increase would result in bringing multilingual versions of a product to market three months sooner? Six months sooner? Concurrent with the “core” release?

How favorably do your multilingual customers currently view your company? How might that change if they could receive the same level of product or service within the same timeframe as other customers? Would they be more likely to promote your company? Might that increase sales in certain markets?

Improving time to market for localized products and services can be tricky, and should always include improvements in cost and quality. More on this in the next post in the series. But for now, a parting question:

What do you see as your biggest localization hurdle to overcome?