The Whys and Hows of Continuous Localization

RWS - Continuous Localization

The pressure’s on for localization. In a previous article, we explored how LSPs and enterprise in-house localization teams need to step up to the challenge — and opportunity — of the expanded product experience. But even while you figure out how to scale and extend your capabilities to manage this expansion, there’s arguably a more fundamental change to how you work, caused by today’s agile workflows.

In the not-too-distant past, the localization process tended to deal with self-contained projects and neat packages of approved content flowing through a linear process. But today’s product releases — and therefore communication cycles — are profoundly influenced by the shift to agile product development. The rapid, incremental, and iterative processes of agile are fragmenting monolithic projects into a constant stream of related micro-projects.

Enter Continuous Localization

This shift can be difficult enough for content management teams working in one home market, but when they operate internationally, they need their language service providers (LSPs) and in-house localization colleagues to keep pace — leading to a growing requirement for continuous localization that is as agile as the rest of the business.

On the Globally Speaking podcast Fernando Caro, the man responsible for internationalization at Dell, summarized this change as follows:

“The days of having to think about plus-30, plus-45 and further out are not a thing of the past, but it’s really not in line with how the world is moving. It’s not how our customers operate. It’s not how the business operates […] I think continuous loc plays a huge part in driving the business and making it possible, regardless of where you’re located around the world, to get whatever you’re going to buy, whether it’s through the SaaS model or otherwise […] Bottom line is I think continuous loc is another critical piece in the equation.”

Want to make localization as agile as the rest of the business? Check out our e-book, Continuous Localization for Today’s Agile Content Processes.

Continuous Localization and Intelligent TMS

While not every company and project will require continuous localization, it’s the natural evolution if you have clients or internal customers coming to grips with agile workflows.

In practical terms, this means optimizing your processes to manage the translation of content that changes frequently, often without prior notice. While each content drop may be relatively simple in itself, dealing with the constant flow, distinguishing new from updated content, and managing version control can all be very complex using traditional linear processes and commercial models. So what does it take instead?

The first key to continuous localization lies in the capabilities of your TMS. A traditional TMS brings huge efficiencies to the management of a linear translation process, but just isn’t designed to manage the speed and iterative nature of an agile content process.

Need a continuous-loc toolkit with key insights you can apply today? Download our free e-book, Continuous Localization for Today’s Agile Content Processes.

For continuous localization, you need a more agile, intelligent TMS with five features not traditionally or widely available.

  • Support for continual updates. It sounds simple, but it takes sophisticated workflow management to handle small, frequent content handoffs, including updates. Your system should automate the integration of new tasks into existing workflows, and manage version control without any extra effort from project managers or translators.
  • Integrated machine translation. One of the most important ways to handle faster communication cycles is to use fully-automated MT or post-editing in appropriate contexts. Highly structured product or support information, for example, could benefit massively from well-trained MT.
  • Linguistic AI. MT is just one example of the use of AI in localization. Another is AI-driven content analysis prior to localization, used to help project managers assign jobs to the right resource without being overwhelmed by the much greater flow of incoming work and management overhead.
  • Excellent connector support. Agile workflows can’t tolerate time-consuming and error-prone manual processes for moving content through localization. A broad set of connectors and the capacity to develop custom integrations allows you to automate the flow of content from and to any enterprise system, including e-commerce and other web platforms, content management and product information systems, and any content repository.
  • Intelligent dashboards. Even with great automation, you can’t manage an explosion of micro-projects without great visibility. Flexible dashboards let your project managers keep everything on track, anticipate issues, and manage by exception. They minimize risk and support better decision-making — even when localization isn’t continuous.

Charging for Continuous Localization

While having the right TMS in place is essential, other long-standing parts of your process may also need to be adapted to the demands of continuous localization, including the way you structure pricing and billing.

Traditional project-based quoting just isn’t viable for true continuous localization: it would drown you in quoting overhead for every incremental content drop and update. A better fit is a time-based charging model — monthly or quarterly billing, for example — based on overall estimates and verified through post-calculation.

If you want to step up to continuous localization, explore the requirements in our e-book, Continuous Localization for Today’s Agile Content Processes. And look out for our next article, exploring one more critical competency for supporting today’s global businesses: globalization testing.