Localization maturity model: How well is your localization program working for you?

By Acclaro
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Localization maturity model

Localization is about more than just saying “hello” in different languages. It’s about making your product feel native to your target market so that your brand can connect with people on an emotional level. Yet getting localization right requires strategy and planning. There are a lot of moving pieces to a successful localization program: choice of markets, marketing strategy, content and product adaptation strategy, technology, and consumer understanding all have a part to play.

A localization maturity model (LMM) gives you a framework for managing these complexities. Using a model like this can help you determine where you stand in your localization efforts and what moves to make next. With this knowledge, you’ll be better able to deploy finite resources effectively, measure progress toward strategic goals, and systematically improve your processes and capabilities.

Acclaro’s SCALE® localization maturity model

At Acclaro, we use our proprietary localization maturity model, called SCALE®, to help organizations scale international growth.

SCALE® stands for Strategic Collaborative Approach to Localization Excellence. We designed this model to help organizations align their localization program with their big-picture strategic goals. By starting with the goals first, we develop or help to fine-tune a localization strategy, process, and metrics that fuel your global growth objectives.

The first step is the SCALE® assessment, a self-guided, interactive appraisal that requires only a few minutes to complete. The reward is a customized blueprint for global expansion and helpful tips for leveling up localization efforts to support your global expansion goals.

In the SCALE® model, organizations progress through five levels on their journey toward localization success:

Level 1: Reactive 

This is where the journey begins. At this stage, your organization is translating and localizing content ad hoc. Since your efforts are sporadic and sometimes unplanned, they are nowhere as efficient or effective as they could be. You don’t have repeatable processes in place, so any successes you do have will be difficult to replicate.

The good news? This level is where you wake up, identify the gaps in your current efforts, and set the stage for a more scaleable approach.

Level 2: Novice

At this level, we see the beginnings of a localization strategy emerge. Some processes are established, but these efforts still need to be fully integrated into the broader business strategy. You may not have any localization technology in place yet.  It’s like learning the basics of a new language; you may know a few phrases, but you’re not yet fluent.

Level 3: Emerging

At this stage, you do have an organized localization process in place, but it still needs to be fully formalized and maximized. This program may be led internally by a dedicated specialist or in partnership with an external agency. Either way, at this level, you’ve begun to weave localization into your organizational fabric. At this stage, you’re moving from basic phrases to forming complete sentences in a new language.

Level 4: Proficient

Organizations at this level are now fluent in the language of localization. A strong localization strategy is in place, with effective, efficient, and repeatable processes and technology. This stage represents a deep integration of localization into the business, where every effort is aligned with the company’s broader goals.

Level 5: Optimized 

This is the pinnacle of the SCALE® model. At this stage, localization isn’t just part of what you do. It’s become a key driver of growth in its own right. An optimized localization program is a finely tuned engine powering your global business objectives. You know what works, you know how to replicate success in different situations and different markets, and you’re constantly measuring and improving.

This structured, strategic approach of an LMM model gives you the tools to embed localization into your organization’s global strategy. Whether you’re just starting out or fine-tuning an already successful program, the SCALE® Model can provide a clear roadmap to tangible results.

Here’s how we’ve helped global brands SCALE® their international expansion

The SCALE® model isn’t just theoretical. Real-world organizations at all stages of localization implementation can apply it to achieve greater success. Read more about how we’ve helped these companies level up their localization efforts.

Case study 1: How a streaming giant conquered global markets

A leading streaming media company came to Acclaro because it needed to scale up its localization efforts quickly.

They began at SCALE® Level 2: Novice. They were planning their first major global launch and had not yet developed any processes or procedures. By partnering with us, they scaled up their localization program, starting with three languages and expanding to over a dozen languages in over 50 countries.

We created consistent core brand terminology for all language markets, took advantage of our global presence to implement a 24/7/365 “follow the sun” solution, helped the client hire internal resources, and designed custom protocols for multilingual media program descriptions and movie synopsis translations.

This client is now at Level 5: Optimized.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • Operating in over 50 countries on five continents. 
  • Content and services are available in dozens of languages. 
  • New language markets that generate millions of new users (and dollars). 
  • Over 70% of new users now come from overseas markets. 

Case study 2: Leveling up elearning localization

Global growth isn’t just about growing revenue. It’s also about nurturing knowledge and educating all stakeholders about the features and benefits of your product or service.

This global software solutions company needed to train employees, clients, and stakeholders worldwide to use its software more effectively.

This company started with 6,000 employees, offices in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, and over 250 global partners. Yet when it came to the essential eLearning component of their localization program, they were at SCALE®’s Level 2: Novice.

They had some localization processes but needed help refining them, making them more comprehensive, and better incorporating them into their business strategy. Acclaro stepped in, automating the content exchange during the translation process and streamlining quality assurance reviews. These steps made it easier to localize more material more quickly and at higher quality.

As a result of these process improvements, the client’s elearning localization program is now at Level 4: Proficient, and they are seeing the following benefits:

  • Increased speed to market and reduction in errors
  • High-quality eLearning translations in French, German, and Japanese
  • A high degree of technical enablement and completed training rate
  • Rave reviews from users

Case study 3: SaaS data storage company conquers localization roadblocks

In our final example, a leading SaaS data storage company came to Acclaro struggling to scale. Their localization process was a significant roadblock.

They were at SCALE®’s Level 3: Emerging, with an organized program but lacking scalability. They had processes in place, but they were labor-intensive and challenging to manage. With an immediate need to launch in seven new languages, they needed to upgrade their program ASAP.

Acclaro’s custom solution included twice-daily file drops, a tailored coding process, and a system of best practices to manage quality assurance and project management between internal editors, freelance translators, and professional translation support.

With more streamlined, efficient, and repeatable processes, they are now at Level 5: Optimized.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • 70% of their users are outside the U.S
  • They’ve launched in nearly 20 languages
  • They’re ready to support expansion plans into over 200 countries worldwide
  • Brand voice and translation quality are now consistent in all of these markets

In each case, the SCALE® model provided a roadmap to translate global ambitions into reality.

Taking stock of your localization maturity

For businesses with global ambitions, it’s not enough to have an appealing product or service. Translation and localization are critical to success.

The first step in any journey is knowing where you are. Acclaro’s trademarked localization assessment can help your organization pinpoint its current position on the road to localization maturity. Once you know that, you can move forward to align your localization efforts with your business objectives.

The SCALE® model can help you unlock global growth, focus your resources where they’ll make the most impact, and adapt your processes as your business grows.

If you’re ready to discover where you stand and how you can level up your localization efforts, Acclaro’s assessment is the first step.

Ready to take the next step in your global growth journey?

At Acclaro, we’ve created strategies that help the world’s leading companies advance in their localization journey and scale globally, and we’re ready to help you do the same.

Want to learn more about how we can help you become the next international growth success story? Get started today.

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