In our previous Project Management Maturity Model (PMM) posts, we introduced the PMM and then walked through traditional project management and localization management recommendations for working with reactive clients. In this post, we’ll cover these strategies as they relate to repeatable clients.

Understanding ‘repeatable’ clients

According to the Common Sense Advisory, companies at the repeatable phase of localization maturity have some experience producing content for global markets, which means they have a basic understanding of what goes into localization. To help scale and meet an increase in global demand, these clients have established basic project management patterns that are repeated internally and with their language service provider (LSP) or internal localization team.

Project management at the
repeatable stage

Project managers (PMs) need to be consistent, consultative, and attentive with repeatable clients. Successful PMs must not only maintain a high quality deliverable against the status quo but also regularly approach the client with ideas for ways to improve existing processes. As with reactive clients, free consultation and ‘expert’ advice need be offered as part of the service, and it’s a critical way for PMs to demonstrate their value.

While consultation is expected, and may well be taken for granted, most interactions with repeatable companies will be transactional in nature. To supplement these transactions with value-add expertise, PMs should set up regular meetings with designated client contacts to demonstrate their ability to exceed expectations in repeating the process and adding value by suggesting process improvements and ways to increase efficiency.

LSPs and internal localization teams should be prepared for relatively high PM overhead with repeatable clients, more so than with clients at any other level of localization maturity. This is because they will likely be required to provide more frequent and in-depth assistance to a high number of demanding stakeholders.

Planned waterfall processes

Cost savings are a top priority for repeatable clients since translation volumes are often high or increasing. PMs often find the client’s emphasis on cost savings may introduce a discrepancy between a thorough, recommended, best-practice process and the client’s preferred process. Clients often choose this route for better cost savings. PMs must set expectations with clients to ensure they’re aware of the risks associated with skipping quality assurance steps, for example, to keep costs down.

PMs should continue to expect waterfall processes with repeatable clients, but help clients refine their approach to localization as they develop more of a fine-tuned machine than that of reactive clients. Project managers can expect to receive planning information with these groups, although it likely won’t be available all the time.

The repeatable processes inherent to these clients allow attentive PMs to unearth best practices and opportunities for development, and demonstrate value by innovating for improvement by streamlining or consolidating processes and tools.

Global resource teams

Because repeatable clients often require high-volume, ongoing translation, PMs at LSPs should leverage their global resource network and build dedicated linguist teams for each target market and language to support the client’s needs.

We would also recommend that PMs on internal localization teams leverage the resources of LSPs that have a dedicated global network, even if they have internal linguistic resources available to them. The in-country resource model operated by most LSPs best supports repeatable clients not only due to high volumes of content, but also because it can help keep translation costs down. LSPs are able to negotiate volume discounts for volume work with their in-market resources.

PMs may also offer to help manage in-country review resources for clients at this stage. They can help in-country teams set priorities and expedite their reviews, introducing efficiencies into this – typically bottleneck but quality-critical – stage of the localization process.

Technology considerations at the repeatable stage

The CSA suggests that it’s premature to implement sophisticated localization technology at the repeatable stage of localization maturity. Similarly, we wouldn’t recommend prescribing to an SaaS model at this stage unless the client is content to stay ‘repeatable’ indefinitely . This is because clients will likely centralize localization efforts as they progress from the repeatable to optimized levels of maturity. Tools will need to be integrated as part of that initiative, and language-service vendors will likely be streamlined as well. If clients have adopted sophisticated tools and/or are locked into an SaaS model with a single vendor, they may not have the flexibility they need to fully centralize or optimize for the long term.

That being said, flexible translation management tools – which can integrate easily and authentically with other systems and platforms – could potentially help streamline repeatable work on both the PM’s side and the client’s side.

If a company has been localizing its content for a decent amount of time, it has solid translation memory databases established, and its content is technical and/or highly repetitive, then PMs could suggest machine translation as an appropriate solution for repeatable clients. This is especially true for those clients who value cost management over having high quality, human-produced translations. This should obviously be a conversation between the PM and the client to ensure that expectations are aligned and everyone is on board with an MT approach before it’s implemented. We’ve spoken to many clients who have come to us from previous LSP experiences and suspected MT was being used without their knowledge. For clients that do feel ‘locked in’ to an SaaS model, this can leave them unsure of how to resolve quality concerns.

In the fourth part of this series, we’ll discuss the next phase of the PMM: localization management strategies for clients at the ‘managed’ stage of localization maturity.