No longer lost in translation - the benefits of a centralized localization model

By Acclaro
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logo_amway_enImagine this: a multinational consumer products company, with a sophisticated global management system in place to support international sales. Everything seems to be going smoothly.

But as the company’s localization requirements expand at a rapid-fire pace, the translation work starts piling up. There is little to no structure around the localization process, and translations are being handled on an ad hoc basis.

The problems were quite clear:

  • Each department had its own set of translators and processes, yet there was no sharing of resources between them. One team might have a Translation Memory (TM) management system and a glossary, another may not — so there were no cost savings from re-purposing previously translated content.
  • Requests were coming in from all over. But there was no way to assign those requests to centralized project managers to efficiently work with outside language vendors. Tracking and reporting? Not an option.
  • With no centralized cost models or metrics, the company did not have a clear idea of how much they were spending on translation – and more importantly, what the returns were.

Who is this multinational consumer products company? Amway, three years ago.

What did they do? With the help of Acclaro, they worked through pain points, identified needs, and chose to implement a centralized localization model — aptly called the Amway Localization Center.

Here’s how the model works:

  • A master glossary, with branded terms and product descriptions, was created, translated into 40 languages and distributed. Translation Memory (TM) is also handled centrally, so each department can leverage translated text.
  • Processes were consolidated into eight workflows (from 20), reducing confusion and making it easier to train new employees.
  • The online localization center, built on a SharePoint site, handles all translation requests for Corporate Headquarters. It’s the beginning of the localization process.
  1. When someone has a translation request, they fill out a request and submit it to the central system.
  2. The request then goes to the operations localization lead in Corporate Headquarters If needed, the lead can ask any questions or get clarification from the requester.
  3. The project kicks off, and a Language Service Provider (LSP) is selected. (Previously, Amway was working with individual translators.)
  4. The LSP supplies the professional translation to Amway, who then sends it to a native, in-country Amway employee for internal linguistic review.
  5. The final, localized content is delivered to the original requester.

This online Localization Center is being developed as a repeatable model that can be implemented by each region in the future.

As with many operations overhauls, it is still too soon to understand the real impact that the centralized model is having on Amway’s bottom line. But it’s not too soon to know that creating an ordered system has some serious benefits, namely:

  • Letting teams focus on what they do best. When you take translation off the plate of each department, you free up their time and allow for higher productivity. The Global Distributor Training team at Amway, for instance, was managing their own translation, and spending additional time on every project to translate their learning modules into the necessary languages. With the centralized system, they could eliminate that extra time they had been using for translation-related activities, and focus their time on developing more training.
  • Unified workflow = unified metrics. When localization is centralized and you can accurately measure the work being done – and the resources being allocated to that work – it is easier to understand the ROI of translation.
  • Planning. Localization is often an afterthought – something companies realize they need to take care of as they embark on international growth initiatives. With a centralized model, executive management can count on faster execution from streamlined planning. Additionally, it is easier to understand the true cost of translation and the possible returns when given a unified “before and after” set of metrics.
  • Speed. The ability to streamline processes and eliminate unnecessary steps means faster time to market and adds to the ROI of centralized localization.
  • Quality. Fragmented translation processes are not only a danger to efficiency, but also to the overall quality of the final product. With a master glossary and a unified TM technology in place, plus qualified LSPs in line to execute the translation, higher quality is assured

We had to ask, though. What would Amway have done differently?

Answer: Amway felt that they should have attempted to get a more comprehensive idea of the “before” picture. Prior to starting the process of centralizing localization, they would have conducted a more extensive survey earlier on to better understand translation processes throughout the company, and what the true pain points were.

And they would have also started the process with a subject matter expert already in place in the operations area – someone who could bring the localization and business processes together and enable more experience-based decision making upfront.

Next steps…

Now that the basic process is in place, Amway is constantly refining and implementing improvement to the Localization Center. Soon, it will be launched in other regions so that they too can benefit from more efficient, quality-assured and cost-effective localization.

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