How Dell Collaborated with RWS to Upskill its Global Translation Team

Dell Global Translation Team

The results of some collaborations are worth more than the sum of its parts — and all the more so when participants come together in unexpected ways.

At SlatorCon Remote June 2023, RWS’ Global Program Manager Genevieve D’Acquisto and Aki Hayashi, a Senior Manager of Dell’s Globalization Program Management team, discussed the “outside-in” approach they took to upgrading career paths at Dell. 

Dell’s Global Translation team (GTT) has its roots in Dell’s 2016 takeover of EMC, at the time one of the largest acquisitions in the technology industry. Three globalization teams from two companies were unified under GTT, whose current goal is to drive localization into Dell’s overall global strategy.

With extreme automation in AI becoming an everyday topic of conversation, Hayashi said, it became “more crucial than ever to upskill” GTT by focusing on the ways in which humans excel. 

“We started this journey in response to the changing business landscape with AI,” Hayashi explained. “But we realized that simply relying on ‘inside-out’ thinking could be self-imposing and limit our progress.”

In other words, Dell wanted to hear from experts who had some distance from the project to make sure the company could consider all possible options.

With help from its three localization vendors — Welocalize, Lionbridge, and RWS — Dell organized a PM Summit in 2021 to conceptualize a PM evolution and rebrand that would develop project managers into program managers. Participants discussed tools, tech, and PMs’ needs for optimization, with the goal of giving PMs back time.

“From a vendor perspective, it’s a very different dynamic to be a part of, but we gained trust in it,” D’Acquisto said of collaborating with GTT. “We did a lot of that by working together in areas that are not traditionally partnered for vendors. By the time we got to the concept of the Summit, we had already established a really nice baseline of trust.” 

The PM summit resulted in a year’s worth of goals, including documentation tools, product UI, and testing. Dell followed up in 2022 by examining the roles and responsibilities of program management, and articulating the differences in managing programs versus projects. At this point, Dell invited more external guests — such as professionals from various well-known tech and retail companies —  to share their perspectives. 

D’Acquisto noted that when asked for suggestions, she and her counterparts at Welocalize and Lionbridge often came up with the same names. 

“The majority of the people that we contacted were actually former SDL program managers that had since gone elsewhere,” she added.

An Inside Job

While outside viewpoints were valuable to the process, Dell balanced those contributions by leveraging its internal resources. 

Hayashi said that GTT “gaining a seat at the table” and demonstrating GTT’s value-add to the company was critical in earning buy-in from management. So was expanding and aligning, as necessary, GTT’s goals in order to help management meet stakeholders’ expectations. 

Existing trust in vendors — from long-term relationships with the vendor side — helped Dell employees feel more comfortable participating and speaking openly. GTT also consciously approached other teams with an interest and a desire to invest in their professional advancement. 

Hearing from outsiders may have helped concretize Dell’s approach, but it took the information to heart by mapping out the necessary evolution, targeted skillsets, and program managers’ day-to-day activities. Dell responded by hosting workshops to support team members’ personal advancement accordingly.

By expanding the participant list beyond GTT and its vendors, the LSPs also gained insight into the challenges globalization teams face, plus ideas for tool application and new ways of thinking and partnering.

For Dell and RWS, certainly, it was a win-win, and Dell received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from outside participants. Hayashi noted the value of industry events, such as webinars and conferences, in connecting with possible colleagues or collaborators. 

“With vendors, remember that trust by association is very powerful,” D’Acquisto pointed out. “Use your resources, but also the long-term benefits of these connections that you’re making. Those benefits are really unforeseen to us.”