Seven Key Features of a SaaS Based Localization Program

By Tom Gannon, Technical Services Director, Welocalize

456013529I work with a number of clients who operate a software as a service (SaaS) business model. The demand for SaaS is growing mainly due to its associated scalability, flexibility and cost-saving benefits. As customers seek flexible software models that can be scaled according to needs, technology analyst group Gartner Group forecasts the SaaS market will grow at 20% through at least 2020, almost 3 times as fast as software overall. Gartner also predicts SaaS will have an estimated total market size of $22 billion in 2015.

Over the years, I have observed that there are consistent characteristics, uniquely associated with SaaS based localization programs. For a SaaS based localization program to be viable, these characteristics must be taken into consideration and addressed during the planning phase. Some of these characteristics include:

  • High volume of small and medium-sized translation hand-offs
  • Unpredictable, frequent hand-off intervals
  • Short translation window
  • Minimal production overhead
  • Clear, unambiguous service level
  • Strong quality focus
  • Accurate, timely reporting of KPI (key performance indicator) data
  • Need for strong cultural and subject matter knowledge

To support a client that operates in a SaaS environment, the localization program must be tailored around the fully automated flow of content between the client content management system and the service providers’ translation management system.

When we create localization programs designed to support clients operating in the SaaS domain, we have observed that the program solutions frequently contain the following seven shared features:

  1. Significant upfront investment is needed to develop a sustainable program.
  2. Content routed through a fully automated workflow connecting the client-side CMS, often via API connectors, into the TMS solution, first for pre-processing and then onto translation.
  3. All non-essential human touch points eliminated from the process.
  4. All content pre and post-processing to be handled via an automated workflow including word counts, preparation of files for translation.
  5. Service Level Agreements drive turn times for different content types and volumes.
  6. Projects typically managed on a budget allocation basis (bucket) rather than priced individually.
  7. Projects tracked and reported weekly, KPI data collected, analyzed and shared for further program enhancement.

Any global organization operating in a SaaS environment would be wise to carefully consider these factors and use them as building blocks toward a successful and sustainable localization program.


tom gannonTom Gannon is Technical Services Director at Welocalize and as worked in the localization industry for over 23 years. You can reach him at