Hitting deadlines is a crucial part of any business, but when it comes to content creation, there are many obstacles that can slow you down. We explain how to optimize the process for maximum efficiency – without compromising quality.
A worryingly large number of products miss their launch date. Improving time to market is an enormous opportunity to increase sales and profitability – but it must be sustainable in order to maximize the window of opportunity in the market and match, if not exceed, competition presence.
In terms of the localization process, there is a lot you can do to avoid the productivity slump and stress of missing deadlines. These considerations and processes should be part of any Cost of Delay analysis, as you strive to improve product development velocity without making subsequent trade-offs on the accuracy and quality of your content.
GUIDELINES AND PEOPLE
Brand immersion – Whether undertaken internally, or with external support, we recommend outlining the core tenets of your brand message and voice. This foundation must be referred to and internalized by everyone working on your content. Content audits, brand workshops, Tone of Voice and Style Guides are all important exercises at this elementary stage and set the scene for a high quality and effective system of content creation.
Briefing checklists – A simple yet powerful tool for mitigating localization delays is a well-thought-out and consistently-followed briefing template. The core argument for a good brief is that it provides context. And context is essential for any creative process.
Particularly for creative pieces, we aim to distil the content’s single most important narrative, uncover audience psychographics and the action the content is intended to drive. Much of this is gleaned from a thorough initial brand immersion.
The effectiveness of this brief can be optimized and streamlined by the careful selection of a dedicated team of linguists.
Pick the right team – How do you select your copywriters and linguists? What is the selection criteria used either by yourself or partner agency?
Selecting the right language team is a nuanced process but there are three core elements we look at: industry experience, tone and the nature of the content. Our ‘How to capture brand personality overseas’ blog details our tried and tested method for selecting effective linguist teams for the brands we work with.
In essence, content is subjective and so delays in the workflow often come from dissatisfaction over the content’s accuracy, consistency and tone. Using teams that are already immersed in your brand voice, chosen specifically because of their compatibility with the content, will drastically improve timeliness while maintaining the desired quality levels.
Define the scope – We offer a selection of quality stages at Wordbank, which are differentiated by the number of linguists involved. For example, we could apply our standard offering of a translator, along with another linguist to edit and proofread the initial translation. Alternatively, we could split the edit and proofread stages between two linguists for increased accuracy, or even add an internal quality check stage.
The decision of how many quality stages to apply depends on the nature of the content. Clearly, the more linguists involved, the longer the copywriting or localization process will be. This is why we map service to content. By applying some upfront consideration and analysis of the project, we’ll choose an appropriate quality level based on the value of the content.
The result is a process optimized for time and price. It also allows a conversation around quality expectations and timelines to be had from the beginning, thus managing expectations, tempering scope creep and mitigating the risk of delay.
TECHNOLOGY AND TOOLS
There are a series of actions you can take in order to create a solid foundation for fast content turnarounds. If your partner agency isn’t following these steps, you should be asking why.
Write for localization – It is perfectly possible to write creatively without including unnecessary, culturally-specific language (such as referring to the British penchant for fish and chips). In fact, taking the time at the start of the copywriting stage to think about the localization potential of your copy can reap huge rewards. It avoids the use of language or tone that is inappropriate in other markets, which saves time otherwise spent on coming up with more culturally-appropriate alternatives. This in turn greatly increases both the accuracy and consistency of the translations.
Glossary & Translation Memory updates – Implementing and maintaining up-to-date glossaries and Translation Memories will speed up the workflow. These tools store approved terms and segments, which allow linguists to leverage technology to aid the translation process.
We have produced a useful piece entitled ‘A Case For Maintenance’ which goes into more detail about how this process works.
Automated file handling – Process automation is a prerequisite for any translation strategy expected to achieve significant scale. It is possible to automate the retrieval of content from websites, CRM and CMS systems based on the date/time stamp for each item by using an Application Programming Interface – or API, as they are commonly known. Once the API has retrieved the content, it can be translated using CAT tools and then transferred back into the CMS via the API. This eliminates the need for users to manually export/import content. It also automates the process for identifying updated content with high precision.
QA Testing Tools – These can identify which pages have been updated at every stage of testing. The benefit of this automated process is to reduce QA testing time so that only updated pages are tested, thus lowering costs.
In addition, you can use visual regression testing tools to compare multiple pages from various environments. For example, if you have a live website that contains current content and a staging website with updated content, the tool can compare the pages from each site to identify changes from a visual perspective. This adds another level of testing which helps to eliminate unnecessary QA tests, further reducing costs.
A TRANSPARENT WORKFLOW
You can build a great team, leverage up-to-date tools and select only the appropriate quality processes for your content needs. However, there’s still the possibility that things won’t go according to plan. And without a bird’s eye of the whole process, you won’t be able to maximize the speed of your content turnaround.
You should be able to visualize and report on the current stage of production at any point yourself. This will alleviate the uncertainty and manual effort of having to chase for updates on your project. But more importantly, it will allow you to evaluate the data and trends of how efficiently, or inefficiently, each stage is performing, and so identify and address bottlenecks in the system.
This is what we offer with our proprietary software, WordXtra. It not only automates file handling, but gives full access and transparency to our partners. From this informed position, we are able to set KPIs and discuss areas of improvement, which allow project teams to accurately forecast the turnaround times of high volume jobs.
A common saying here at Wordbank is that tools are only as good as the people using them. The guidelines and technology we have discussed are invaluable for hitting those all-important deadlines, but ultimately it’s the people involved who make the world of difference. Having a dedicated Project Management team that understands your needs is a must. They will be able to harness all the tools available, while their experience will allow them to foresee potential challenges. This means that honest conversations can take place from the outset, ensuring managed expectations, a positive working relationship and high-quality content delivered on time.
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