From Deep in the Trenches

Paula Hunter and Tuyen Ho LocWorld 2014

Localization Maturity Model in Practice

Paula Hunter is Localization Manager at Avigilon and has more than 14 years of experience in the localization industry.  At LocWorld in Vancouver, Paula delivered a joint presentation with Tuyen Ho, Senior Director at Welocalize. The presentation, “From Deep in the Trenches: LMM in Practice” detailed a number of localization challenges and successes that Avigilon had experienced, from managing multiple vendor changes to introducing a terminology process. In this blog, Paula summarizes some of the key points from her presentation and also draws on some of the discussions that took place at the Welocalize LocLeaders Forum 2014 in Vancouver. Paula also participated in the LocLeaders event as a key panelist for the discussion, “Does Technology Impact Scale?”

Whitepapers on the Localization Maturity Model (LMM) can easily be found. Conceptually, LMM makes sense. In practice, there’s no blueprint to follow if you aspire to move up to the next level.

Taking Avigilon to that next level was precisely my first objective when joining the company just over one year ago. How do you go about tackling the challenge of implementing major process and tools changes without disrupting the existing localization workflow?

The first step was to understand the current situation. What language support exists today? Who are the key end-users of this localized content? Who are the key stakeholders in producing the localized content? What are the current processes used? What are the tools used? What are the pain points? Where are we spending the most money and where is there opportunity for savings?

To gain better insight into these questions, my first action was to centralize the localization process by becoming the primary contact for all localization activities. Rather than each individual content author throwing materials over the elusive translation fence, everything came directly to me. This allowed me to quickly become more familiarized with Avigilon’s assets, tools, and current challenges and inefficiencies in the current localization process.

After six months’ time, it was clear that in order to reach that next level of localization maturity, Avigilon needed more of a strategic partner, rather than strictly a “translation agency”. An expert in the industry, with a proven track record for solving many of the challenges faced by Avigilon and who could help set up an infrastructure, provide industry knowledge and above all, brainstorm and implement processes and tools to become more efficient, scalable, cost effective; all while delivering superior quality.

Thus began the RFP (request for proposal) process. The first of three major factors in the maturing of Avigilon’s localization program.

Step One: RFPs. RFP’s are often viewed as strictly an administrative task, often mandated by organizations before bringing on a new vendor or partner. However, what I learned from my experience at Avigilon was that the more investment made upfront, the better the results. By providing as much transparency as the NDA would allow, the RFP candidates were able to prepare their RFP packages to address Avigilon’s specific needs. When it came down to the final two candidates, they were able to demonstrate, in practice, how our localize-able assets would flow through their tools; how they would report on Avigilon’s specific business needs, and how our current challenges would be directly addressed. Spending time on the RFP upfront also significantly reduced the ramp-up time and allowed for early successes as they were already familiar with our business objectives and localized assets.

Step Two: Relationships. Once the strategic localization partner was selected and in place, the second factor was addressed: Building Relationships. We first established the core team, which consisted of those involved in the day-to-day workflows. The key contacts, or Project/Program Managers, from both localization vendor and client needed to be established. The importance of this relationship cannot be understated. This core team has to be extremely tight-knit and work together in the trenches daily, troubleshooting issues and coordinating variable schedules. Which is why chemistry and communication styles are imperative to success. From there, the team is built out to include key stakeholders on both sides. Again, the key to success is setting expectations and continually adjusting process, deliverables and even those very same expectations along the way. In the case of Avigilon, one of the most important relationships was that with the in-country reviewers (ICRs), who were becoming increasingly unhappy as localization support was both inconsistent and of poor quality. Allowing the ICRs to hand-select the translation team played a key role in gaining their support.

Step Three: Technology. The third key aspect of maturing a localization program is technology. While recognizing that technology is not a silver bullet, rather one small piece of the puzzle, a centralized translation management system (TMS) was identified as a key step to setting the foundation for all workflows. For Avigilon, it was important that this TMS be able to be configured to eventually produce solid business reporting metrics, as well as be customizable in order to work with Avigilon’s existing internal tools. These activities are ongoing and by no means complete, but from the onset a roadmap was created and is being tracked on a quarterly basis to be able to see and demonstrate the progress to key stakeholders.

Avigilon is still early in the process; however, the team has a clear plan of action in continuing to bring the localization program to the next level of maturity.

Paula Hunter, Avigilon Localization Manager

From Deep in the Trenches, LMM in Practice by Paula Hunter and Tuyen Ho.