Trust Me, I’m a Project Manager
The Evolving Role of the Localization Project Manager
Strong project managers (PMs) form the foundation of many long-standing localization partnerships with global brands for so many reasons. It’s a role in the language industry that has evolved, where each PM is now seen as a strategic business partner, rather than a file-pusher, identifying opportunities to create efficiencies and preventing issues rather than reactive problem resolution.Project Managers must be strategic #global business partners, rather than process followers. A talented #localization PM focuses on enabling business outcomes and proactively seeks solutions. Click To Tweet
PMs are often the day-to-day contact for clients. Juggling multiple clients across time-zones, they are the go-to people for vendors and technical suppliers when queries, issues, and escalations occur.
Finding the right talent for PM teams is an important part of any lasting relationship in global business and an integral part of the client onboarding stage.
In Slator’s Language Operations 2021 report, our VP of Talent, Brennan Smith shared his thoughts on the true value of project managers and how their role is critical for the client experience:
“A really skilled Project Manager will make the client feel they’re having the bespoke experience, while also optimizing the use of Welocalize’s existing products. From a client’s point of view, it means we’re super-fast, super cost effective, and also able to deliver exactly what they wanted. That’s sort of the magic that a really good PM can do.” – Brennan Smith, VP of Talent, Welocalize
To fully service an international brand at all stops on the global business journey, the PM ensures the right talent and tools are aligned to different content types. From foreign filing and patent translation at the research and development stage, through to managing complex digital go-to-market strategies, a project manager must be nimble to navigate complexity.
The PM is like an orchestra maestro, leading a diverse team of translators, linguists, third-party reviewers, testing engineers, DTP operatives, translation automation developers, digital marketers, multimedia specialists, and more. The result is a symphony of multilingual content that engages a global audience.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE PM
The foundational characteristics of a PM remain the same: meticulously organized, technologically adept, systems focused, and efficiency driven. We quite simply have grown and adapted with the evolving responsibilities every day. As the needs of clients and global brands broaden in scope and complexity, talented individuals are excited by the opportunity to take a more proactive and wider role.
“Project managers remain a crucial part of our relationship and engagement with clients – they have the day-to-day contact and co-ordinate the localization projects working with all the relevant teams to result in high quality and on-time deliverables.” – Rachel Barakat, Client Program Manager, Welocalize
Further Reading: How to Manage Successful Transcreation Projects.
To embrace a more strategic role, continuous training is crucial for PMs to keep abreast of standard and new tools and methodologies. A strong PM also ensures they are more plugged into their clients’ training programs too. Many team members attend client product presentations and retail store immersion training to ensure they fully understand the product, the brand, and the experience that the client is looking to deliver. To create and develop the right local experience, you have to experience it yourself.
EMBRACING AUTOMATION + TECHNOLOGY
In addition to training on tools and methodologies, it is important to keep up-to-date with emerging translation and localization innovations and technology. There can sometimes be a worry about the increasing use of automation and AI-enabled solutions within the industry impacting the role of PMs and other language professionals.
However, human input will always be needed. As these technologies evolve, so does the role of a PM.
During our recent webinar, our VP of Solutions, Darin Goble discussed how technology automation has affected the project management teams at Welocalize:
“Project managers are vital, and we have fantastic teams at Welocalize. Sometimes the concerns are ‘what parts of my job will be automated, what will I do?’ As we move on our digital transformation journey, the more PMs are going ‘wow, I get to upskill around this, I get to step back and think about creative ways I can use data to improve the customer experience’ and that’s a pretty fun thing to be a part of.” – Darin Goble, VP of Solutions, Welocalize
Watch the on-demand webinar, Breaking the Concrete on Inherited Tech Stacks
Communication and engagement are key to maintaining a successful partnership. Continually engaging with clients is so important and the project manager role has the advantage of day-to-day contact. From face-to-face client visits, a quick phone call or video calls to updating a customer on the status of a project or addressing an escalation or rapid response call, the project management team spends so much time in contact with the client. You can’t help but build up a close relationship. You do share personal information and over the years, we’ve sent out several new baby and wedding congratulation cards!
Project management is no longer a role focused purely on pushing files and systems, but rather on managing teams of people and encouraging open communication. Establishing a trusting and lasting partnership ultimately supports strategic goals and the localization project manager is now an established key player.
Are you looking for a new challenge? Check out our open project management positions here.
For more information on Welocalize multilingual content solutions, connect with us here.
This article is based on an interview with Rachel Barakat, Client Program Manager at Welocalize. Connect with Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org