As I mentioned in my previous post, Introducing the Project Management Maturity Model, in this blog series we’ll be defining ideal project manager (PM) characteristics, typical processes, recommended resource models, and considerations in technology use for localization management as they relate to each of the five phases of localization maturity (as defined by the Common Sense Advisory). Before we dive in, I want to clarify a few terms we’ll be using frequently throughout this series:
PM could apply to a project manager, senior project manager, or program manager, just depending on the structure of your organization or team.
Client could apply to an external client or company if you’re on the LSP side, or it could refer to internal stakeholders or divisions if you’re on an internal or enterprise localization team serving a non-language-focused organization.
Waterfall is used to describe a traditional approach to localization, where English source content must be completely final before translation can begin. Waterfall processes can take anywhere from a few days to months to execute and deliver.
Agile is used both in referring to the common approach to software and product development, and is also used in the traditional sense of the word to describe flexible, lithe processes.
Now let’s get into the meat of the PMM. We’ll start with the first phase of localization maturity.
Understanding ‘reactive’ clients
According to the Common Sense Advisory, reactive clients are typically small firms or self-contained business units within larger organizations. They typically have little understanding of what goes into localization processes, and no set internal processes for managing international needs. Because of this, we’ve also found that startups of any size can be at the reactive level of localization maturity, although they tend to fast track through to the more mature phases quite quickly.
Project management at the reactive stage
PMs need to be patient, supportive, and nurturing with reactive clients. Successful PMs will be open to training reactive clients on the ins and outs of localization, and they must be willing to speak the clients’ language rather than use confusing localization-specific jargon. Much of what an ideal PM provides will be free training and free consultation.
At this stage, PMs have an opportunity to insert themselves as the localization experts, an integral part of a client’s international efforts. As localization experts, if PMs do their job well, the client will seek them out for advice and consultation on best practices for going global.
With reactive clients, there may be limited long-term PM overhead since localization needs are ad hoc versus regular or ongoing. However, when requests do come in, great effort is needed in client education, re-education, and consultation. This is especially true because contacts often change regularly with reactive clients.
Waterfall processes with quick turnarounds
Project managers working with reactive clients are often faced with ad-hoc responses to unforeseen business demands. Waterfall processes are inevitable in these organizations, with no advanced planning or general consideration for localization.
Quick turnaround is often needed due to lack of planning or awareness from upstream teams. PMs must be willing to accommodate quick turnaround needs while also educating their contacts on localization best practices, and offering themselves as resources for translation planning.
On-demand linguistic resource models
PMs will find that a traditional, on-demand (typically freelance) model leveraging in-country translators and editors suits reactive clients. These may not be dedicated or fully onboarded resources because reactive clients’ needs are typically irregular and inconsistent. However, it’s critical PMs establish expectations around quality, and deliver high quality to reactive clients, since any quality issues could be quickly escalated out of proportion due to a lack of understanding and experience on the client’s side.
In-country review should be recommended as part of a best practice localization process. PMs may need to assist reactive clients in assessing and selecting review resources. Project managers could also consider recommending a third-party reviewer as a possible solution if no client-side resources are available. (See our post on traits of an effective in-country reviewer for recommendations in resource selection.)
Technology considerations at the reactive stage
PMs with reactive clients may use proprietary or internal project management tools, but technology designed for managing localization workflow shouldn’t impact the client at this stage.
It’s important PMs make sure TMs and glossaries are proactively managed–even if it’s done for free–to ensure consistency and quality over time. At this stage, a localization team uses these tools more as a tactic in efficiency and quality rather than as part of a broader business or content strategy driven by the client. This is particularly important since reactive client contacts often change frequently due to a lack of centralized management.
In the next post in this series, we’ll discuss the second phase of the PMM: project management and localization strategies for repeatable clients.