In this post, we’ll walk through project and translation management strategies for working with optimized clients, as defined by the Common Sense Advisory’s Localization Maturity Model (LMM). For a refresher on the earlier stages of the Project Management Maturity Model (PMM), please take a look at the previous posts in this series:

Introducing the Project Management Maturity Model

The PMM Phase 1: Reactive Clients

The PMM Phase 2: Repeatable Clients

The PMM Phase 3: Managed Clients

Understanding ‘optimized’ clients

According to the Common Sense Advisory (CSA), companies at the optimized level of localization maturity have highly evolved internal processes and take a scientific approach to localization. They like to collect detailed process, quality, and efficiency metrics and are looking for efficient, high-quality output from their localization ‘machine.’

Project management at the
optimized stage

With optimized clients, project managers (PMs) must be unobtrusive, adaptable, and flexible. By unobtrusive, we don’t mean they don’t have a job to do; PMs working with optimized clients will need to manage less and facilitate more. Optimized processes cannot be heavily dependent on thorough PM quality checks or intervention, for example. PMs who insist on actively managing workflows for optimized clients will likely jeopardize their relationships because they may act as a barrier to operational efficiency, which is a must at the optimized level of maturity.

Optimized clients may require a dedicated team of localization managers who can scale as necessary and deliver exactly what the client needs with no drama. The PM should quietly manage any issues on the project level without letting clients feel any inconvenience or pain. While this is a must in any client relationship, it’s particularly important with optimized clients who value localization teams that can effortlessly meet their complex needs.

Successful PMs collaborating with optimized clients must be adaptable and easy to work with. They are no longer the only localization experts in the room and therefore can’t continue to position themselves as such. Business or account reviews in place should no longer push value-add services; rather, they should reflect that the localization team is meeting expectations. This is because optimized clients know what works for them and what doesn’t. One of the few opportunities for consultation at this stage is around source content strategy and best practices for any new/different localization needs the client may have.

PMs also need to be flexible and patient with optimized clients, as there will likely be hiccups as they navigate the optimized waters. For example, as clients evolve from the managed to the optimized level of localization maturity, they often experience challenges in maturing processes, automation, and technical implementation. However, project management overhead should be minimal as PMs evolve into facilitators rather than managers.

Flexible, lithe waterfall and
agile processes

Like successful PMs at this stage, effective processes must be flexible, adaptable, and lithe, regardless of whether an agile or waterfall approach to localization is being followed. With optimized clients, PMs will need to be ready for more regular, streamlined, potentially lower volume translation requests. This could obviously be part of an agile development cycle if we’re talking about product development.

Optimized processes should be primarily automated, requiring minimal PM involvement. The primary value PMs bring to processes at this stage is in their interactions with the other humans still involved in the process (translators, post-editors, in-country reviewers, etc.).

Dedicated, scalable resource models

PMs will need to ensure linguistic resources are fully dedicated to an optimized client account, meaning they may not accept work for any other clients, depending on their workload.

To address scaling concerns, additional PM hires may be necessary to manage localization on the language service provider (LSP) side, and the localization team may consider outsourcing certain services to keep localization costs down. We would only recommend doing this as long as quality isn’t put at risk by outsourcing (which it often is).

PMs may also want to suggest crowdsourcing as an innovative resourcing model for dynamic, public-facing content, and machine translation may continue to be used (or suggested for the first time) for clients with more technical or repetitive content.

To further streamline localization management, PMs on internal localization teams may choose to rely less on external LSPs by this stage and could suggest selecting and onboarding certain in-house localization resources (anyone from linguists to QA resources to technical leads to terminology managers, etc.).

Quality monitoring and measurement is a top priority for optimized clients. PMs need to be prepared for the possibility that some clients or teams may choose to onboard a language quality review resource outside their typical localization partner. There is an opportunity here for PMs on the LSP side to manage that review resource as they would a freelance/third-party supplier.

PMs should also be ready for the possibility that in-country review may no longer be a critical part of processes at the optimized stage. This assumes translation memories (TMs) and glossaries have been proactively maintained by language or content strategists over the course of the client’s maturation. Some clients may choose to forgo this stage, instead relying on trusted historical content and QA resources.

Technology considerations at the optimized stage

The CSA finds that optimized companies are committed to shared technology and services across business units. PMs will find that optimized clients have likely defined a centralized technology stack for content management and have now fully integrated those systems with translation management systems (TMS) to streamline localization workflows (an effort first kicked off at the managed stage).

It’s important PMs keep in mind that visibility into and access to all tools is essential for optimized clients. This is because TMSs can often come across as black-box solutions. Clients may be unable to access and edit their TMs, for example, or view real-time project status information. In addition, integrations between content management systems (CMS) and TMS aren’t always actual integrations – they are just connection points through a file-transfer protocol that don’t always allow for seamless content flow. Clients at the optimized level of maturity require visibility into, and often customization of, these integrations to fully optimize their workflows; PMs must be willing to support their clients and advocate for their needs.

When technology development or enhancement conversations come up, successful PMs will emphasize the necessity of optimized tools to be able to support in-market content creation. They should stress the importance of technology that allows for the production of from-scratch local copy versus forcing English-to-target-language translation workflow on all content, which is typical of many software-as-a-service (SaaS) models introduced at the managed stage of maturity.

In the sixth part of this series, we’ll discuss the final phase of the PMM: strategies for localization management with transparent clients.