When your localization workflows aren’t as automated as you’d like them to be and you’re struggling to make processes more streamlined, it’s likely that your first instinct is to look around to see what other tools are out there to solve the challenges you’re facing. But before jumping into a new purchase, ask yourself if a new tool is really what you need or if there’s a way you can optimize your existing setup to get the results you want to achieve.
Surely, you already have an idea of what it is that doesn’t work that well, but to get a clearer picture make sure you involve the people who actually use the platform in one way or another. These could be colleagues who submit translation requests such as internal or external linguists, project managers, or engineering teams that interact with the tool. This inquiry can take the shape of a survey, a retrospective, or a focus group, for example.
Once you’ve collected the information from all your stakeholders, define the issues, group them per area, and describe their impact (be it on the end-user, the product, your business partners, the company, the team). This list will make it easy for you to identify where the biggest areas of improvement lie and to find out if there are any low-hanging fruit that you solve quickly. Moreover, now that you have a better understanding of the gaps, you can figure out who is in the best position to act upon the issues: the provider, engineers, another team, you?
If you realize the issues are partly due to the fact that your current tool lacks features or that the functionalities don’t work quite the way you’d expect, dedicate some time to see if things have changed since the last time you looked into it. Tools get updated all the time and new features are launched on the regular. A good idea to help ensure you keep up to date with your tool’s releases is to bookmark the release notes page, so you never miss an update. Play around with the tool and check out any new webinars or training material your tool provider has put out to see if it helps guide you toward a solution.
If this doesn’t help, and if you don’t have regular catch-ups with your tool provider, it’s time to reach out and have a talk with them. Before you do that, though, it’s a good idea to send them an agenda with a list of what you’d like to achieve and any blockers from their side you are aware of, such as a missing feature. Be as clear as possible in your descriptions. To make things easier, you can use short statements showing the action you’d like to perform and why (i.e. as a localization manager I want the translated content to import automatically into the CMS when it’s ready, so I can deliver faster).
This will give them a chance to prepare for the meeting, and ask you any questions in advance so you’ll be able to use the time scheduled to actually discuss what they can or cannot do to help out.
If the issue you’re trying to solve is technical in nature, get in touch with internal engineers — at the very least to get their opinions and guidance. If you find out the issue is actually internal (for example your translation tool cannot connect properly to your CMS because the way your CMS was initially setup is too customized and the out-of-the-box solution won’t work), you’ll have to work on a plan with your developers to make sure these issues are resolved.
Have you ever thought about what tools (or processes) other teams have established that might be useful to you, too? Sometimes different business units end up working in silos, which means they might be using different tools or processes you may find useful. Think for example about data or freelancer’s management systems or project management platforms. Leveraging existing tools can be a relatively quick and cost-effective way to make workflows more efficient.
And if this is still not enough, why not get some tech demos to understand, on the one hand, what other solutions are available and, on the other, to see if they spark any brilliant ideas? Seeing how other platforms work may inspire you to apply changes to your current setup using the tools you already have at your disposal. And while you’re at it, speak to other people in the industry and ask them how they made their workflows better and, if you need some more advice, #talktonimdzi.
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