How to Build an Internal Localization Team

How to Build an Internal Localization Team

Large businesses with international presence usually already have a big and well-established localization team. However, other companies that are just venturing into new markets and do not have a localization team can benefit greatly from building at least a small one. While they will most probably need to hire a localization partner for their localization needs, having a small internal localization team can help them centralize and coordinate the different needs from other departments within the organization and work closely with the localization partner so that their goals are met. 

Here’s how you can build an internal localization team that is set up for success from day one.  

Fill the Right Roles 

First things first, you need the right players on your team. 

  • Localization Project Manager (LPM)/Program Manager. The most important role on your internal localization team is that of the LPM/Program Manager. While the other roles you’ll need to fill play an important role in a project’s success, the LPM/Program Manager keeps the entire project on track and helps improve communications between internal stakeholders and language providers.  
  • Language lead/lead linguist. The language lead or lead linguist will be the point of contact for all linguistic matters. Some language service providers (LSPs) have their own language lead, but if you have one in your own team, you make sure this person is aligned with your expectations and the needs of your organization, as well as with your organization’s linguistic preferences. When working with different vendors/translators, it’s key to have a person that settles any linguistic matter and can guide the linguists to achieve consistency.  
  • In house reviewer. These individual reviews delivered files and makes sure the expected quality is met and may provide feedback when there are things to fix or if specific instructions were not followed. The LSP may also have a person in charge of reviewing or proofreading the files before delivery, but it’s always good to have someone internally who can double check

Look for the Right Qualities 

Your internal localization team needs the following three skills to thrive: 

  • Planning and organization. The many different departments in a company (marketing, HR, legal, finance, etc.) may all need localization services at one point or another. Each department will have projects with unique characteristics, requirements, and deadlines. This is where the planning and organization skills come into play for the LPM, as they need to coordinate all of this with the language service provider. Planning also allows for risk management, which can mean anything from foreseeing potential issues or expectations upfront all the way through plenty of cushion time built into deadlines, so that unexpected occurrences don’t disrupt progress or strain deadlines. In all cases, proper planning often results in less stress and happier clients with top-notch final products. Staying organized is a must to make sure projects run smoothly. Keeping track of all the different aspects that go into a successful localization, such as linguistics, culture, technical details and administration details can be daunting, but it’s important to stay focused.  
  • Technologically savvy. Localization projects are often cutting-edge and continuously evolving, meaning the project managers behind them should be flexible and willing to adapt. Understanding tools such as machine translation engines, term base extraction systems, or software localization platforms is an essential part of localization management in order to lead a successful workflow from start to finish. With the use of modern technologies, the technical skills of project managers can help smooth out processes that may have previously been time consuming for localization teams. Keeping up with emerging tools and coordinating their implementation in the project helps managers ensure a successful project every time. 
  • People management and communication skills. Localization project managers are responsible for leading a team and managing their work with different departments within the client’s organization. It is important to be able to communicate well with other localization specialists and their teams, which can include linguists, software engineers, testers, and desktop publishers, as well as being able to communicate well with the company’s internal stakeholders. Logistics on these projects can become complicated as collaborators may be located in different countries, time zones, and cultures. This can add an extra layer of complexity to the management of team members. For a localization project manager to succeed in this role, it is necessary to have strong people management and communication skills.  

The Takeaway 

Building an internal localization team is one way to ensure that your products and content are accurately translated and culturally relevant. Creating a process and foundation for your team will help them succeed and allow you to focus on other aspects of taking your business global. 

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