Technically Speaking: XLIFF, Agile, XML, the cloud, CMS, TMS and the Evolving Localization Supply Chain

Following the recent localization industry events LocLeaders Forum and Localization World in Silicon Valley, Derek Coffey, SVP of Technology and Development at Welocalize, shared his viewpoint about the future of the technology powering the localization supply chain.

derek coffeyNot so long ago, we all struggled with moving files around the localization supply chain.

Different formats and closed systems made it difficult to agree on word counts and rely on round-trip files back to the client.  Our industry recognized the issues and technology and tools developers started to focus on cross platform support and interoperability.  XLIFF (and the soon to arrive XLIFF 2.0) have become a defacto standard for almost all translation management systems (TMS) and translation technologies (the late adopters know who they are).

So, as one problem is addressed, another rears its head.  Agile development, software in the cloud, XML authoring and the move to Content Management System (CMS) and TMS have created more change in our industry. We have all moved away from the large projects to a transactional environment with many small jobs coming through daily, hourly.

At Welocalize, we have had to retool our administrative systems to reflect this change. Our project accounting and management systems now connect directly to our own TMS (GlobalSight) and to many of our client’s systems, creating the project and tracking the financials alongside the TMS workflow.

Over the last 12 months, I have had the opportunity to work with some of our supply chain vendors and see what this has meant for them. Without exception, they all have to track and record each piece of work within their own systems: monitor their own financials, issue PO’s – all the usual project administrative stuff. What I have also seen streams of work where the project admin has overtaken the actual translation in terms of cost and effort.  PM’s spending more time keying data than managing workflows, Translators spending more time updating log sheets than actually translating.  When a translation job has only five words in it, keying in PO details is going to take longer than the translation.

So what do we do to fix this?

At Welocalize, we have created a set of web services that allow our supply chain to connect directly into our project management and accounting systems. With the web service in place, instead of receiving a work assignment through an email, vendors now see it directly in their own system. When they start work on it in their own system, we see it changing in our systems.  Across our supply chain, this has the potential to eliminate 1,000’s of project management hours and create the efficiencies we need to support this new type of work. This approach is fundamental to Welocalize’s Operational Excellence (OpEx) strategy.

At the recent Localization World, I had the opportunity to discuss our plans with two of the leading off-the-shelf project management systems in the market – Plunet and XTRF.  Both organizations have clients within our supply chain and both are working on creating a web services connector to support this easy movement of project data back and forth.

This is going to have a huge impact on the Welocalize supply chain – but I wonder if we could get together as an industry and create a standard web service?


Read more about Welocalize OpEx here.

How did TripAdvisor remove waste and unnecessary workflows, create convenience and value added tasks? Click here to find out how we reduced TripAdvisors workflow from 23 to 5 steps.

You can read more insights from LocLeaders Forum Silicon Valley and Localization World 2013 by visiting