Risk Management in Localization: Managing Resources, Budget and Uncertainties

The concept of managing a localization project may seem simple: receive a work order, consider requirements and budget, and then allocate the resources. However, the process involves so many people and factors that analysis, planning and, also, risk management are mandatory actions for a translation team.

Sometimes, risk management is an overlooked subject, but it’s crucial in any workflow. Project Managers, Account Managers and Quality Assurance Managers, instinctively or not, all acknowledge that some situations may pose more risks than others (e.g. a very tight deadline), and they take actions to mitigate them. Risk management is the process of managing intentionally and systematically the uncertainties that may occur during the course of a project.

Definitions and Types

Risk management implies dealing proactively with uncertainties before they happen. Technically, reacting to a risk after it occurred is not risk management. Identifying and foreseeing possible setbacks allow leaders and managers to come up with the best strategies and solutions to increase the likelihood of project success.

But what is a risk? According to the Project Management Institute, risks are uncertain events that can have a positive or negative effect on at least one project objective. There are different types of risks:

  • Technical Risks, which are related to the technical aspects of a project, like requirements, software or quality.
  • External Risks, which depend on agents that are not under the scope of the organization, like vendors, suppliers, market fluctuations or natural disasters.
  • Organizational Risks, which are related to the way a team organizes its workflows and operations.
  • Project Management Risks, those related to the potential setbacks regarding estimating, planning, communicating and/or controlling the course of a project.

A Proactive Framework

A systematic understanding of the processes managers are involved in nurtures the framework that strongly supports the daily operations within an organization. Part of this background are the actions that can mitigate and reduce projects’ risks. It’s important to point out that risk management is an integral approach that not only involves Project Managers, but rather the entire organization.

Typically, risk management implies three main actions. First, managers identify risks and assess the likelihood and potential damage of each, which helps them prioritize and address the most relevant ones. Once these steps are done, the team puts together a plan to respond to the identified risks.

Being aware of the types of risks and the possible scenarios where they emerge, and having a proactive approach to them, is an integral part of the job of any translation team. The more systematic and organized the commitment to risk management is, the more successful and experience-driven any localization workflow will be.

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