From Service Providers to Strategic Partners
Ulrika Fuchs, Localization Manager at Vistaprint, took part at LocLeaders Forum Barcelona 2017 as a guest panelist for the discussion, “Innovation and the Customer Journey”. In this special guest blog, Ulrika looks at the role of the in-house localization team and highlights the benefits of developing lasting relationships with internal clients.
No matter what your approach to localization looks like, whether you have an in-house team, outsource your translations or maybe work with a hybrid model, there is much to gain from building a strong partnership with your internal clients.
A lot of internal localization teams can sometimes feel like they are just completing tasks and taking orders according to a plan that they were not part of creating. Internal clients often look at localization and translation as a service that comes at the end of the line, and therefore there is no need to involve the localization team in important strategic decisions. There are many benefits to be had from engaging the localization team at an earlier stage – we’re experts in going global therefore have a lot to offer. Part of the role of the localization team is to educate the whole organization of the value of localization, share best practices and forge long-term partnerships to help reach global goals.
Achieve better results
Working as an internal service provider and often with an external language service provider (LSP), you have your own set of goals. These goals are probably developed to Service Level Agreements (SLAs), meeting certain quality standards and ensuring cost-efficiency. But where does the end customer come into the picture? Your internal clients are focused on delivering value to the end customer, so the localization team should be part of that vision too. By becoming more integrated into the overall global strategy, you will share the same goals and create a sense of ownership on both sides that will let you achieve far better results as an organization.
Some engineers may have experience in software localization and your global marketing colleagues may have worked across several markets and multiple countries before, but let’s face it – many things can go wrong when you want to go global with your digital content. Faulty assumptions, inaccurate estimates, lack of in-country knowledge and other risks can lead to delays, wasted resources and ultimately, a bad brand image and loss of revenue. By getting involved from the start, you can identify these types of risks and even educate your partners for smoother localization projects in the future.
Just as localization teams can help clients become aware of risks related to localization, they can also help them identify opportunities. Maybe there’s a specific demographic in a certain market that is worth recognizing in an online marketing campaign. Or perhaps there are ways to optimize processes and workflows. There may be technology and tools out there that could provide translation and process automation, helping to speed up the localization process and improve quality. By working closely together, the needs of the business will be better met and those opportunities can be identified that add great value.
How to get there
The benefits are pretty clear to any of us who work in globalization and localization, but how do you make the clients see their need to partner with us? In my experience, you simply have to be very persistent and never give up. You may have to invite yourself to meetings, insist on having those important conversations, and offer training to new-hires as well as long-time employees. Then start over and repeat, because this is a part of the role of a localization manager that is never fully done.
At Vistaprint, as an internal localization team, our journey from service providers to strategic partners has taken us as far as being involved in decisions around content strategy, participating in local trade shows and providing real time input at shoots for TV commercials. Making the localization team key stakeholders in the global strategy has added tremendous value to our business. It has also increased engagement and created a series of exciting opportunities for the localization professionals on our team. Let’s forge partnerships with everyone involved in the localization process and work as a truly global team.
Ulrika Fuchs is Localization Manager at Vistaprint.