For 20 years, cloud financial management and services company Sage built a solid presence in the United States by making it easier for SMBs to get work done so they can be resilient and productive in the face of challenges. Customers trust Sage’s finance, HR, and payroll software to make work and money flow.
In 2019, the company made a strategic decision to expand its business internationally to other English-speaking markets, successfully localizing its cloud-native product for Australia, South Africa, and the UK. This effort involved user interface and terminology tweaks and began an international expansion that would soon take on other, more significant challenges.
To better serve other markets, the company needed more than just a few term changes within its cloud-native financial management product, Sage Intacct. At that pivotal moment, Giselle Tran, then a global content strategist at Sage’s U.S. Documentation division, realized that there were a few key challenges to overcome if Sage Intacct was to truly grow its markets around the globe.
Although new to localization at the time, Giselle understood the project needed a different approach from the partial localized efforts in other English-speaking markets. This required a solid foundation in which an internationalization process and a well-defined localization practice were integrated.
Despite her clarity on the matter, Giselle would not be able to realize her vision for more than two years. As she put it, “Localization and translation were close to my heart and top of mind, but not yet a reality. We had to educate our stakeholders that the process required more than just terminology changes and win their buy in.”
From Fragmentation to Cohesion
Determined to figure out how to create an effective localization strategy, Giselle began her learning quest: how did other parts of the massive Sage corporation manage translation when needed and who was handling it?
To understand what was involved in localization of different types of content, she also completed a Certificate in Localization Program at the University of Washington.
Early in 2022, Sage Intacct set its sights on entering a foreign-language market. With her new insights, Giselle saw an opportunity to rethink and improve Sage’s localization process at scale.
Things really began to take a more defined shape by June 2022. That’s when, as part of Giselle’s “glocal” strategy for Sage Intacct, the first localization program manager began to help set up processes to ensure everything was lined-up to meet the company’s non-English market expansion goals.
During that time, Giselle requested a quote for translation and localization services from RWS to create a benchmark for budgeting and an understanding of the end-to-end solution and timeline. This served as the start of the Sage-RWS partnership and enabled her to move forward.
Shortly after these milestones were accomplished, the company recognized an ideal opportunity to enter the French market by the end of 2022. Within mere months, they were ready to invest in the resources needed to reach this goal!
As the relationship between RWS and Sage developed, we found very naturally that we became an active partner. Processes were discussed and developed collectively to deliver a smoother, more effective translation process. Francesca Farrell, Strategic Account Director for RWS
Enter Le Marathon
Ask anyone who has ever tried to localize a complex user interface and all supporting content and they will tell you about large amounts of money and long periods of time to complete the process.
Usually, they will also tell you they had followed a sequence that:
- Began with internationalization (the process of adapting code so that it can work, functionally and structurally, in different languages)
- Continued with localization (translating and adapting content for a specific locale, that is, a language variant and all its unique cultural and regulatory characteristics)
- Finished with comprehensive quality assurance (testing and bug resolution) before launch.
For Sage to have a fully functioning French product by December 2022, along with all supporting content, there wouldn’t be time to follow the classic sequence. Every operation had to happen in parallel, including foundational pieces such as source language optimization, glossary building and style guides, translator selection and onboarding, and UI internationalization.
Segments of content were internationalized by developers, revised by writers, translated, and then returned to the developers. RWS was instrumental to this process, which involved translators, project managers, localization engineers, and the use of language technologies. This was followed by “rinse and repeat” processes that happened simultaneously and without the contextual benefit of a fully finished product.
The first round of internationalization was in itself a massive undertaking. “It resulted in 26,000 externalized UI strings, with another 14,000 strings on the roadmap for errors and emails. In conversations with other teams, they were looking at closer to 8,000-15,000 total strings across UI, errors, and email,” remarked Giselle.
Clear workflows and frequent communications between the teams helped pave the way for the synergies that improved the current experience for English-speaking customers and led in turn to a strong French end product.
Looking to a Glocalized Sage Intacct
RWS played a vital role in ensuring all aspects of localization—including technology, language, and quality support under incredibly tight timelines— were up to the expectations of internal and external stakeholders at Sage Intacct.
This was very much a real-time operation, consisting of setting up translation workflows through multiple systems and translation memory sequencing, finding translators with the appropriate experience, as well as hands-on localization testing. To achieve all the milestones involved, RWS was a language success partner and a key member of the Sage Intacct product localization team.
As mentioned before, this marathon to the French finish line was the first foreign language venture for the Sage Intacct product team, and internal teams needed to be educated on best localization practices.
The Sage Intacct localization program developed at an accelerated pace beyond production tasks, toward an enterprise-wide effort that would set the foundation for future localization projects and a cohesive plan to scale quickly. To achieve this, Giselle engaged globalization consultant Ben Cornelius, who steered the team and the process in the right direction.
When the time finally arrived to launch the product, her team gained recognition as experts able to assist other teams, including marketing and sales, with their international efforts. The French Sage Intacct localization project included 125,000 words in UI strings and 55,000 words in in-product help, images, demos, and other key product support content.
People don’t use what they don’t understand. With the localization strategy, we were able to take a best-in-class cloud financial management software to France, the third largest market in Europe, while laying the foundation for the broader European market with a scalable, high-performance, multinational accounting solution. Aravinda Gollapudi, Head of Platform and Technology for Sage Intacct.
People are what made it possible to achieve an end-to-end massive internationalization, localization, and translation project in just six months. Galvanizing teams around a clear scope of actions and expectations was only one part of what led to success.
Localization is a proven path to new market opportunities, growth, and revenue. Localization, and RWS as the localization partner, were critical components in building and deploying a viable French-language product.
The leadership at Sage Intacct came to understand the value of localization as something inherent to the customer experience, no matter what the language or the language variant. A main lesson here was that to gain support and adequate funding, globalization and localization managers need to be able to convey the value to decision makers.
Other elements weighed equally in the success of the French localization project, such as determined leadership, the contribution of expert localization partners, collaboration with internal subject matter experts, and the relationships that emerged among all teams.
As Giselle states, “Success is about how well your launch in a new market works overall. Language, training, visibility across the enterprise, team contributions—from translators to project managers to engineers and writers, and finally to those using the content—it all matters.”
Internal and external teams united around a firm purpose to create a truly internationalized and ‘glocalized’ product in French that will serve Sage Intacct’s customers and internal teams well. This progress will become the template for other foreign markets.