What's More Important in Localization: Time, Cost or Quality?

Smith Yewell Welocalize CEO Time Cost QualityIn the localization and translation industry, the usual answer to this question is “they are all important.”  So perhaps a better question is “why should they be mutually exclusive?”  Historically, these three areas were often at odds with quality at the core, and I suggest that the main driver of this was the tendency towards a one size fits all quality expectation.  Quality measurement programs typically did not discern between content types and business requirements.  It all had to be good, and it all went through nearly the same QA process within a specific company.  Adding to the complexity, QA processes across companies are rarely the same. So depending upon who you ask, you get a different answer about “good quality.”

This has been a constant challenge in the translation industry, but it has been exacerbated in the last few years by two factors:

  1. Ever tighter timelines
  2. Ever smaller average word counts within jobs

There is a variety of good technology to help automate this challenge, but quality paradigm evolution has lagged technological innovation.  Very few companies are able to match quality requirements to varied business requirements.  There is a reason for this ­ it is not easy to do.  It requires a lot of hard work in defining, clarifying and communicating expectations and measurement criteria.

At the last Localization World conference, I led a panel discussion on this topic.  Since then, I have had a lot of people call me to discuss their views and ideas.  The idea I put forward at the conference was associating different content types with quality types.

Not All Content Created is Equal

Not All Content Created is Equal

If we are able to route a brand related quality type through the most rigid QA process, and a user generated, low impact quality type through a baseline quality process, we could then set cost and time expectations accordingly.  With enough definition within the content type and quality parameter matrix, we could then educate stakeholders on the business advantages within the context of what we are calling at Welocalize, “return on content.”

Content is usually created to support business requirements and generate a benefit or return to the business or the user.  So why not begin to align quality programs with these business requirements and move beyond the “usual way of doing things.”

Here at Welocalize, we are looking at different ways of doing things  – especially in this area of the quality program evolution.


Smith Yewell, CEO, Welocalize