Role of Quality in Four Stages of Software Localization
During our routine work in the localization industry, we live and breathe quality every day, everywhere. What is quality? ISO 8402-1986 standard defines quality as “the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.”
How do you satisfy stated or implied needs? For software product localization, final localized versions must be bug-free for final product sign-off. For any software localization program, as well as the software product itself and for each software launch, patch and new feature, there will be a range of supporting materials including marketing materials, internal training and communications. All require different levels of quality.
In this blog, the following details the quality focus used during the software localization process for all content types.
There are four main stages to every simple translation project or complex software localization project requiring translation, software engineering, testing, document engineering, multimedia, DTP and art work: Project Scoping, Project Planning and Preparation, Production Execution and Product Delivery and Sign-Off:
Stage 1: Project Scoping
This stage is to fully understand quality expectations, customize quality standard depending on client requirements. It is the foundation to help client to best utilize their localization budget and set localization plans in place.
- Perform evaluation about source content
- Define work types
- Figure out localized languages and workload
- Raise any source bug queries
- Provide localization suggestions and quotation
The main input for all of the above activities is understanding the client quality expectations. If the client quality requirements are understood, we can carry out appropriate scoping: neither over scoping nor under scoping. Based on different purposes of localized materials, we can customize different quality standards.
Using some of the local terminology we have in Beijing, here are some examples of how quality expectations differ, depending on content type and impact:
- If the localized materials are for company internal staff training, we can set quality requirements as “accurate translation, simple DTP/engineering.”
- If the localized materials are for marketing or online customer support, we can set quality requirement as “accurate and beautiful translation, fine DTP/engineering.”
- If the localized materials are for localization of product code, we can set quality requirement as “technically accurate, debugged, full of beauty for DTP/engineering.”
- If the localized materials are high impact to the brand, like company slogans or taglines, we set the quality requirement as “perfect transcreation, full of beauty for DTP/engineering.”
Stage 2: Project Planning and Preparation
This stage is the process that transforms a client’s quality expectations to a series of production activities and measurable KPIs.
- Workflow Customizing
- Environment and Tools Deployment
- Quality Measurement (SOPs and Checklist)
- Work Scheduling
- Risk Evaluation (Risk Factors)
- Resources Reservation and On-boarding
- Training of Involved Resources
All planning and preparation activities are based on exact quality requirements and those stated purposes confirmed at the scoping stage. Based on different quality requirements, we can customize different workflows, choose different resources and work out different quality matrices. For example, aiming at the quality requirement, “accurate and beautiful translation, fine DTP/engineering,” we can use standard translators and engineers to complete the work. We can arrange one cycle translation, DTP/engineering work with quick QA cycle.
If we are aiming for the quality requirement of “perfect transcreation, full of beauty for DTP/engineering,” we need to on-board experienced translators and engineers with specific skills and arrange more reviews and QA cycles to ensure final quality.
Stage 3: Production Execution
An integral part at this stage is the LSP management system, which must manage and track production activities for software localization activities, including a quality tracker and bug management system. This means all quality information can be extracted and checked for the following main activities:
- Production Process Control – All procedures are monitored to ensure that work is being handled according to customized workflows and using reserved resources.
- Inter-Operation Management – Constant team interaction to ensure no breaking within consequent work steps and processes. Client information is fully shared with all involved parties to ensure everyone is on the same page and aware of all targets and deadlines.
- Risk Management – Based on risk evaluation, routine checks are performed at the risk points with appropriate remedies used, if necessary. Version control method and bug management systems are put in place.
- Results Checking – Any work results are checked based on the defined quality measurement. Any non-conformity item should be evaluated and handled before delivering to client.
Stage 4: Product Delivery and Sign-Off
In theory, at this stage you have a bug free localized product. During this stage, final checks are performed and the product is prepared for sign-off. If in the unlikely event of bugs being found, careful risk evaluation is undertaken, especially for complex software localization projects. Each bug case is evaluated case-by-case and communicated with the client to decide whether to fix or defer. In stage 4, achieving quality means to deliver an acceptable product without introducing significant risks to users.
During each stage of localization, there is a different quality focus. By further strengthening our quality consciousness and achieving a deep understanding of the quality focus during our routine work, we will work smarter, more agile and produce quality levels that exceed our software client’s expectations.
Based in Beijing, China, Judy Chen is Technical Services Director at Welocalize.
For more information about software localization and bug-fixing, read Welocalize White Paper: A Bug is a Bug in Any Language.