The Beauty of the Agile Localization Model: 5 Key Benefits of Agile Localization

Barbara FrawleyBarbara Frawley is a senior project manager at Welocalize. She has worked in the localization industry for over 15 years, seven of those at Welocalize, and in project management for 13 years. Barbara works with a number of Welocalize key technology clients and is a true advocate of agile localization. She shares with us the five key benefits of Agile Localization.

When you work as a Localization Project Manager, you are always “on,” even if it is only at a subconscious level. You juggle hundreds of balls at the same time, all in a different stage of the arc, whilst catching new balls that are thrown at you.  After a while it becomes second nature to move at 100 mph in different directions – simultaneously. Handling the unknown is a major factor in your day. So much so, that sometimes you don’t even notice it.

In January 2013, I took over a new account. A company from the technology sector involved in ongoing (agile) software development cycles. It was my first experience with the agile localization process.  I duly made room in my subconscious for the additional “hum” that was coming my way.  I quickly realized that I did not need it.  It was an oasis of calm in my working week.

The beauty of the Agile Localization Model is that it removes the unknown. You know when you are getting requests.  You know who are your team members. You know the scope.  Your translation teams are waiting on your hand-off. Your engineers are poised and ready for the kit.  You know when you will get your deliveries, and importantly, your client knows when they will get their files.  There is little or no need to chase up files or provide status updates.  The predictability of the model not only results in a happy localization team, it also gives you more time to look at the account holistically rather than being bogged down in the trenches.

Of course, there are requests outside of the agreed weekly scrum.  Fortunately, the process is so well defined, that from receipt of files, to production and quote, it is always less than an hour. Pretty agile.

Here are my top five reasons why I believe agile localization is the model to work towards for any client, whether you have a mature localization program, or if you are new to localization.

  1. CONSISTENCY: Your teams know when they are getting requests, so you have the benefit of consistent translators and the engineering team. You do not need to worry about their availability. Consistency of translation is one of the fundamental contributors to quality — whether to preserve the same style and tone, or to maintain the understanding of the content being localized.
  2. SCHEDULE: The schedule is predefined.  No need for frantic negotiations to meet your client’s delivery requirements.  The teams are waiting on the hand-offs each week.  For the translation teams, knowing in advance that they will have a hand-off at a set time also removes their additional time searching for availability. When you have to schedule both translation and review, you have the added difficulty of timing for two resources.  With agile, the net result is that your job gets into translation immediately with a regular, experienced team.
  3. LEARNING CURVE: The tools, process and reference materials are the same each time . This removes queries relating to how to do the job, giving more time to focus on queries relating to the content.  Working with the same resources over time also reduces the number of queries for each request.
  4. ADMINISTRATION: A lot of a Project Managers spend time on administration (admin), both financial and project-related. Setting up projects, invoicing, POs, forecasts answering queries, providing support, clarifying schedules and expectations. Whilst you can never do away with all admin tasks, the Agile Localization Model helps to remove at least 60% to 70%, resulting in more time being spent looking at the account and how it can be improved.
  5.  TEAM SATISFACTION: This probably does not seem important from a technological stand point, so you might be wondering why I have included it. It is simple — a happy team is not just a productive team, they are an engaged team.  You invest yourself in the account.  You want to see it succeed, you want to help improve it, make it better, stronger, faster!  Your feedback matters, your opinions count, you no longer feel like a vendor, but a member of an extended client team.  When you can achieve that, you will reap the benefits in quality, schedule and process.

Simply put, working on this account feels like a reward.  How many times in your career can you say taking on additional work was the reward for working hard?


To read more on Agile Localization, take a look at “Why Global Software Companies should run Agile Localization Processes Alongside Agile Development Cycles”, written for the Welocalize blog by F-Secure’s Mika Pehkonen.