What is Key to Mitigating Risk in your Localization Strategy?

Director of Product GlobalMimi Hills VMwareization at VMware Inc, Mimi Hills, took part in the Welocalize LocLeaders Forum 2014 Vancouver event as a featured panelist. The panel discussion, “What is Key to Mitigating Risk in your Localization Strategy?,” was moderated by Darin Goble, Senior Director at Welocalize. In this blog, Mimi shares her key highlights from the discussion.

One reason I like gathering with peers and partners at conferences and forums is that it gives me the opportunity to analyze and benchmark–a time to think strategically, mull over what we’re doing well at VMware and gather ideas for things we can do better.

Joining the panel hosted by Darin Goble on “Mitigating Risk in our Localization Strategy” was a good opportunity to carve out some time to consider a topic that I don’t often take the time to ponder.

My fellow panelists were Kathleen Glennon from Dell and Loy Searle from Intuit Inc. We were all were willing to share some stories (maybe not from our current companies of course), but stories that framed the discussion about risk and gave a foundation for discussion about our mitigation strategies.

There are risks in our everyday schedules and budgets. We measure how we stick to the schedules and budget but we don’t often measure the risks themselves. There are risks in vendor management. For example, what happens if you have too many vendors? For example, a missed opportunity for a volume discount or increased workload for internal project managers. Or too few vendors? What happens if a small but trusted vendor goes out of business or is bought by another company?

In localization, we often have our hands in the development process. In software localization, we touch processes from engineering to content. We can delay a product launch or inadvertently cause a security leak. We may enable worldwide revenue, but we also take on a huge risk.

479053371Looking at stories of where things have gone wrong in the past was very helpful for everyone at LocLeaders. We were able to consider the actions and processes we put in place to mitigate the risk of them ever happening again. We considered the standardized processes we put in place, the cross-training we do on products and processes, the constant search for new best practices that will help us reach our goals but also minimize risks to our people, process and technology.

We looked at situations that called for redundant systems and we looked at a few examples of risk mitigation carried too far. After all, we’re talking about risk mitigation, not risk elimination, which may fix one problem but can cause a whole new bunch of risks that then need mitigating!

Likewise, we agreed there’s a cost to the time we might spend measuring risks. We could spend a lot of time developing complex models to measure risk or we can put our energy into ensuring we’re mitigating the right risks. That seems to be the path most of us find practical – regularly reviewing schedules, budgets, and processes.

There’s comfort and reassurance to being at an open, trusted forum like LocLeaders and knowing that we share a similar approach.

Mimi Hills, Director of Product Globalization at VMware Inc