Acclaro | Continuous Localization: Faster Processes and Quicker Release

Continuous Localization: Faster Processes and Quicker Release

Category: Translation Services

Product releases shouldn’t be delayed by suboptimal localization processes, right? So, if you are looking for a powerful way to speed up your product development and releases, continuous localization should be in your tool kit. 

But what is continuous localization? In short, it is a process that uses cutting-edge translation technologies to: 

  • Automatically detect content requiring translation
  • Create a project
  • Notify stakeholders 
  • Automatically sync the deliverables back to the code repository from which the source files came

The benefit to developers from continuous localization is clear-cut: they can align localization efforts with their development cycle by automating and accelerating the steps involved in creating a professional translation. This way, they can seamlessly integrate their localization processes into their development cycle.

For companies, continuous localization means faster translation turnaround times and accelerating quality product releases. The result: getting to international markets faster and helping them gain a competitive edge.

Shorter, Faster Development Cycles

For a number of years, software releases were regular, but fairly infrequent. At the time, most translation processes followed the waterfall development model. Essentially, this meant that localization only started when the product was finalized.

But as developers adopted new methods like Agile, Scrum and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), manually managing translations just didn’t fit the new, rapid development processes. By the time that translators finalized the localization for one sprint, developers already were in the middle of the next iteration.

This not only could hold back development speed, but those manual processes also tended to be more error-prone — ultimately resulting in a less than optimal user experience if, for instance, the content was not fully localized.

Faster Cycles, Faster Time-to-Market

As the development cycle becomes shorter, more traditional localization processes often struggle to keep up. It’s become clear that localizing digital products is not a project with a clear-cut end date. After all, software, app and website updates are now weekly, daily or even minute-to-minute. 

That means you have new content that needs to be localized all the time — even if it’s just a few strings. And of course, you don’t want to have this constant need for small batches of translations hinder your planned releases. Because every delay could mean lost market share and less revenue.

In this world of ever-shorter development cycles, applying the latest development methods to localization has been the next logical step. Tools to improve automation and efficiency can sync localization to your product development cycle in such a way that localization actually becomes a crucial part of development.

To give you a clearer picture about the different approaches, let’s look at the localization timeline for the average cycle of different methodologies. Methodologies influence the timeline for getting to market with localized content.

Methodology

Number of Days

Tools

Waterfall 30 or more Server-based CAT tools
Agile 14 days Cloud-based CAT tools 
CI/CD As short as 24 hours Cloud-based TMSs

What we see here is the influence of the development methodology on the localization timeline, and ultimately, the timeline for getting your product to market.

Automation, Automation, Automation

It is said that with continuous localization, a product is always ready for release. So, how does this work?

Let’s take a closer look at the tools that have evolved to support the automation required to accomplish continuous localization: plugins, API integrations, CMS Connectors, middleware and various TMSs (Translation Management Systems).

A variety of connectors, integrations and plugins help connect your content management system with the translation interface of a TMS – which automates the process to “pull” source content for translation and “push” translated content back into your CMS. These tools can help you to keep your content aligned across platforms and languages at all times while nearly eliminating manual processes and delays.

Note that there may be some tradeoffs. While TMSs have superior connectors over server-based CAT tools for pushing and pulling content, CAT tools likely have better engineering and linguistic QA checks. 

With that said, a wide range of technology and TMS tools enable continuous localization by: 

  • Connecting your repository to a TMS
  • Automating as many steps as possible, such as: diff detection, project creation, system notifications to stakeholders, syncing of files or exporting strings in a given file format
  • Feeding back the translated content into the repository

Blurred Lines & Close Collaboration

The nature of the changing development and technological landscape brings Language Service Providers (LSP) closer to and effectively a part of the development process. With continuous localization, localization experts play an important role on the development team.

Product development and localization teams both aim for a high-quality end result and a speedy release. Just five years ago, the two rarely worked together. But as continuous localization has gained traction, collaboration between developers and localization experts is now a must. 

Localization teams often work within the client’s TMS platform. Collaborating through a TMS allows for cross-functional performance of tasks between development and localization teams. Additionally, the searchable commenting inside the TMS platform enables teams to move away from email and makes communication between all stakeholders more efficient.

Challenges and Advantages of Continuous Localization

Aligning your localization process with your development cycle brings many advantages, like faster translation turnaround times and faster product releases. And since getting to market faster helps you increase revenue and delight your customers, it’s well worth it to consider continuous localization as a part of your localization strategy. 

And while the benefits of continuous localization are many, there are certainly challenges. One such challenge for many is the minimum fees that LSPs charge to cover overhead costs. Because the continuous localization process often involves short string updates, the size of projects drastically decreases. A project that used to be 10,000 words is now five words (or even two), and the ratio of overhead costs to revenue can skyrocket. A translation provider who has the tools and expertise necessary to automate translation workflows can adjust to provide these services at more reasonable cost.

As we look at the future of localization, there will be trained neural machine translation (NMT) engines that will undoubtedly further streamline translation processes. But whatever comes along, make sure that you partner with an LSP who empowers you with the knowledge and freedom to choose the tools to automate your translation processes that best match your needs and goals. If you’d like to learn how you can get your products to market faster, contact us today!