Four Factors to Managing Localization for Fast-Growth

by Steve Maule

93227369It’s May 2015 and we are fast approaching conference season in the globalization and localization industry. One of the main events to kick-off the season is Localization World, to be held at the Maritim Hotel in Berlin, June 3-5.

There are many familiar companies sponsoring and attending LocWorld, including Welocalize. This year I am noticing more “new” companies in the speaker and attendee lists. Maybe not newly formed companies, certainly companies who are new to the localization community and who are at various stages of venture capital or private equity funding.

There are two main characteristics that these new companies have in common:

  1. FAST GROWTH: Start-ups and companies backed by investor funding often experience triple digit year-on-year growth in their early years, which is unheard of in larger more mature companies.
  2. HUNGRY FOR LOCALIZATION: High growth companies need to understand and get a handle on localization strategies to achieve corporate global growth objectives.

Over the past few years, I have worked closely and consulted with these types of companies and here are my four key insights into managing localization in this fast-growth environment:

  1. Think about the WHY. I know it sounds obvious; however it is so important to align your localization goals with your wider corporate goals. Know what they are, keep them “front and center” when making decisions, and share them with your internal and external partners and stakeholders. Get excited about your fast-growth company’s mission and the part you are going to play in it. Otherwise, localization can quickly get side-lined, lose momentum or someone else will think they can do it better.
  2. Manage it centrally. Or it won’t get managed. If localization is a crucial part in your growth story, then work to avoid the duplication of effort, waste, cost and frustration that happens when companies let everyone deal with localization separately, in silos. By definition, that isn’t management. If that’s what is happening in your organization, then perhaps localization isn’t that important to them after all.
  3. Nail the tactics and operations. Document the workflows that deliver the output you need when you need it.  Define the key metrics.  Get your reporting dashboard in place.  Establish priorities in terms of content-types, locales and products.  Most importantly, decide upon and select the people (internal and/or external) who are going to do most of this for you, and then help you run it once it’s in place.  Getting all this working (and quickly) provides a vital platform to execute on the corporate strategy. It’s also an on-going process as opposed to an event and you need to be sure that it’s managed consistently and properly, removing any obstacles along the way.
  4. Sell, Sell, Sell. Get excited about what you’re doing and the difference it’s making to the company.  Understand and develop relationships with your internal customers and stakeholders– in most cases the Executive team, Finance (for the budget conversations), and importantly the content-owners themselves.  Make it easy for them to get services from you. Effectively, you have to “set up shop” within your company (intranet sites, meetings, webinars) to promote your services.  Get help with this if you need it, I’m sure you know sales people. If not, you can always give me a call.

What do you think?  How different is localization at a start-up or a fast-growth company?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As noted above, Welocalize is a sponsor and exhibitor at Localization World in Berlin.  If you plan to be in Berlin, drop me a note so that we can schedule a time to get together. We will also be hosting our exclusive Welocalize LocLeaders Berlin event on June 3.  Contact me at for more information about both events.

See you in Berlin!


steve maule welocalizeBased in the United Kingdom, Steve Maule is Business Development Director at Welocalize. At this year’s Localization World in Berlin, Steve will be delivering a joint presentation with Karen Loughrey from San Francisco SaaS start-up, Optimizely. Their presentation, “Structuring Localization at a Tech Start-up” will be delivered on Friday, June 2015 at 9AM.