By now we’ve walked through project and translation management strategies for working with both reactive and repeatable clients as part of our overview of the Project Management Maturity Model (PMM). In this post, we’ll discuss best practices in localization management when collaborating with managed clients.

Understanding ‘managed’ clients

According to the Common Sense Advisory (CSA), the managed phase of localization maturity tends to be a very transitionary phase, when clients are consistently evolving their global efforts and their approach to localization may move away from being fixed or stagnant. These clients tend to be larger multinational firms that have developed a managed, scalable approach to localization as part of their business strategy.

Project management at the
managed stage

Project managers (PMs) must be consultative, strategic, and flexible with clients at the managed stage of maturity. They cannot be at all transactional in their approach to the relationship at this stage of maturity. PMs need to continually demonstrate the value of localization to illustrate that it’s an investment rather than a cost. Coordinating and holding regular business reviews with all key stakeholders is critical to showing localization return on investment (ROI), consulting on areas for improvement, and reporting on quality issues and their resolutions.

Successful individuals will also add to the value of the localization services they are providing by suggesting and implementing value-add marketing, technical, or specialized language services. While all of these new services are being rolled out, a skilled PM will simultaneously continue to ensure existing projects are delivered to the agreed-upon high standard.

The managed stage of localization maturity is often characterized by client groups beginning to centralize their localization efforts. PMs need to be open to collaborating with a different, potentially broader, set of contacts. However, as a client becomes more mature within the managed stage, PM overhead will begin to reduce (compared to the repeatable stage) due to the streamlining of processes and localization management.

In addition, cross-functional collaboration is critical during centralization – a successful PM must learn to ‘speak the speak’ of upstream teams, technical leads, and authoring teams, for example, in order to ensure all projects are executed to scope for each client requestor.

This level of localization maturity is a great time for a PM to recommend content, terminology, systems, or process audits. This is because established, managed processes are in place, but it’s likely there are still pain points for many stakeholders at various stages of the localization process.

Defined agile or waterfall processes

Managed companies will obviously have defined processes. PMs will need to be prepared for agile or waterfall processes, depending on the type of team or company. That being said, the start of centralization that is typical of the managed level of maturity better facilitates agile localization processes, since all teams involved will likely be more connected when it comes to the organization’s localization strategy.

Regardless of whether a waterfall or agile approach to localization is being followed, it’s critical PMs work to streamline processes at this stage. Repeatable processes will need to evolve to meet the more complex, varying needs and higher quality requirements of managed clients and their centralized groups with localization needs.

Multi-vendor resource models

The CSA suggests that a multi-vendor model is typical of buyers at this stage. This is because the various groups coming together to centralize already have their preferred language resources. Because of this model, and because of the more advanced demands of managed clients, PMs must be more quality- and service-focused around clients’ long-term goals and less transactional or focused on churning out high volumes of content.

We would recommend PMs kick off a review of any dedicated linguist teams in place after auditing existing language resources to ensure those on the team can meet the evolving needs of this client. Revamping in-country review models and resources may also be a wise consideration for PMs to suggest at this stage to support centralization strategy. Auditing existing resources used by internal groups or business units, and then consolidating by market, may make in-country review more manageable for centralized localization groups within their newly streamlined processes.

Technology considerations at the managed stage

As groups centralize their localization efforts, they often seek to integrate their various content management systems (CMS) and translation management systems (TMS). The CSA points out that many tools adopted during the repeatable stage of localization maturity are now scrapped to facilitate efficient integrations. (See the previous post in this series for more information.)

If best practice is followed, PMs will recommend that centrally managed translation memories (TMs) and glossaries are at the core of these integrated systems to ensure consistency across business units. PMs also have an opportunity to work with their clients to develop and execute a global content strategy for all projects across all groups.

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss the fourth phase of the PMM: strategies for localization collaboration with optimized clients.