Best Practices in Localization Project Management

Category: Website Translation

This article, written by Michael Kriz, was originally published on in January, 2012.

As a localization project manager, you’re the captain of the ship — you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for the crew and for everything that happens from port to port. The cargo is heavy and the turnarounds are tight. Will you deliver on time? On budget? Will the linguistic quality of your translations be up to snuff? Will management be satisfied with the final product?

One way you can take the pressure off is to prepare well. Pre-project is a good time to research best practices and brush up on your localization project management skills. I asked my team for their best practices and tips on what helps them stay on course and overcome challenges in their website localization projects. Here’s a list of ten best practices that they came up with:

1. Select a translation agency well-versed in website translation

Website content can be much more marketing-driven than your typical software or documentation translation. The translators, linguists, quality assurance (QA) professionals and engineers you team up with should ideally have experience in this specific type of translation work.

2. Discuss with your internal team how multilingual content will be managed

If you have a content management system or CMS for your English content, there are a few questions to consider:

  • Can it handle localized material?
  • Is it able to export and re-import content in a translation-friendly format and efficient manner?

3. Review the broader pieces of web localization

SEO, or search engine optimization, is crucial to a website’s survival in any language so you’ll want to tie it to your website localization effort from the get-go. If you’re considering other marketing initiatives such as ads, landing pages, email campaigns or PPC (pay per click), you’ll want to coordinate all of them for consistency. In terms of your content, there are a few other questions to address:

  • How does each section of the website relate to international markets? There will likely be global, regional and local content. Each of these will have different localization requirements.
  • Will content need reworking for the local markets? Some images, themes, or articles may need to be swapped or adapted to local norms.
  • Fit your website localization effort into a complete globalization plan.

4. Fit your website localization effort into a complete globalization plan

It can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture with deadlines keeping you up at night. Take some time to understand the high-level objectives of this effort before localization begins:

  • Will the translated content support a software or web product that’s being marketed internationally? If so, has it been localized and for consistency’s sake, should some of these translated terms be used for the website?
  • If the product will remain in English, how will you handle product references, key terminology or images for the website? Will these remain in English or require translation?

5. Agree on testing steps ahead of time

Often overlooked and undervalued, testing is an essential phase in a quality-oriented translation process. Working out the logistics will make for a smoother ride:

  • Determine who will stage the content for testing. Some prep is required and advance notice will enable the tester to be on cue.
  • Make sure the appropriate sample data and third-party applications will be made available to testers.

6. Approve the test script

Remember that localization/linguistic testing of websites focuses on the language, not the functionality, of the site.

7. Create a staging environment dedicated to localization

You’ll want a stable environment that’s not being used simultaneously for ongoing development work.

8.  Determine the best time to test

This should ideally be after all your content is translated and there’s a break in the update cycle.

9. Discuss ongoing maintenance

You can never plan too far ahead. Creating a maintenance schedule will keep you on task and minimize inefficiencies. Ask the following questions:

  • How often will the site be updated in English?
  • How will the localized site maintenance map to that English cycle?

If the translation maintenance cycle will be frequent, it would be a good idea to automate the handoffs from your CMS to your translation team. This will greatly reduce the busy-work of managing translation.

10. Establish a review and approval process

Coordinating with your reviewers is important so that you make the most of their time. Decide at what point in the process they should look at the translated content and how they should approach ongoing updates.

Click here for a white paper with more information on preparing for website localization.

Bio: With more than 20 years in the translation and localization industry, author Michael Kriz draws on experiences founding and managing localization endeavors — from his first foray into the industry creating a small translation company in Paris to working with leading global entities. Michael is the founding president of translation agency Acclaro, which has grown since its founding in 2002 into a global enterprise with offices on four continents. Michael and his team share news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture at their blog.