Making a Case for Translation Management

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Mary Anne Henselmann, ADP Inc.

Understand the Current Landscape

The first step in making a case for translation management is to understand and be able to communicate the current translation landscape. Things to consider:

  • Is there a clearly defined translation process that everyone in your company follows? If not, how many different processes are there?
  • How many people in your company are involved with the translation process?
  • How many Localization Service Providers (LSPs) do you currently use?
  • What are the issues people are encountering? For example, collect details about the number of LSP queries generated or problem logs entered against incorrect translations.
  • How much money is spent on translation each year?

Armed with the knowledge of how your company operates today, you will be able to craft a proposed solution that can help develop company assets (such as a centralized Translation Memory) while at the same time streamline translation processes, improve translation quality, and decrease translation costs.

Articulate Specific Goals

Be able to articulate specific goals for the translation management project that align with goals of your company. For example, if your company has a strategic goal that includes globalization, you need to ensure you highlight that goal in any presentation you give. Projects that directly advance strategic directives have a greater chance of being funded.

The following are examples of detailed project goals for a translation management project:

  • Develop a repeatable, streamlined process for getting content translated
  • Improve translation quality, consistency, and turnaround time
  • Ensure consistency by developing and maintaining a terminology base that can be used by all areas in the organization
  • Identify quality and performance metrics for your LSPs
  • Enable transparent mechanisms to identify, track, and control costs (for example, how much it might cost to deliver a product in Spanish)
  • Decrease time to market by eliminating or automating manual steps such as getting word counts
  • Enable organizations to manage their own translations, on their own timetables

Tip: It is important to be able to provide information on the importance of these goals by providing real-life data from your research on the current translation landscape. Whenever possible, use graphics to demonstrate any key points (See Figure 1).


Figure 1: Before and After Translation Management

Develop an ROI

Develop a spreadsheet that demonstrates potential Return on Investment (ROI). Potential ROI will be important to ensure you get funding for any technology or human resource investment. This ROI should include projected translation spending (over the next 3-5 years) and what it would cost with and without the changes you want to make. You will need to include any investments you see making such as additions to staff, new software, or server purchases. If you are considering software, TMS vendors will be able to assist you in developing an ROI using industry data. Your projected translation spending should be for concrete projects that people reading the ROI will know.

Tip: After your project is ‘green lighted,’ make sure your financial needs are included in any budget that is developed for your organization.

Get Key People Involved for Support

Make sure your proposed solution is supported by key people and/or organizations that might be impacted. You don’t want anything you propose to be a surprise to anyone who might influence the final decision. The following are some examples of organizations you should consider involving:

  • Enterprise Architecture (or any organization responsible for an overall governance of product architecture) to ensure your translation solution fits in with any global design.
  • Global Procurement (purchasing) to help you with ROI numbers. They will also create Request for Proposals (RFPs) and help with developing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with selected LSPs.
  • Finance to help with ROI and navigating the company’s financial landscape (for instance, whose support do you need to get the money you need, when requests need to be in and approved?).
  • Product Development or Content Creators to understand their issues, validate new processes, and ensure you will have their support when you go to senior leadership with the proposed changes.
  • Your leadership or the leadership in your company that will make the final decision. Perhaps have an initial meeting to outline your ideas. A meeting will go a long way in gaining their support when you are ready to present the ideas officially.

Tip: It is important when you engage other organizations for support that you target your presentations to what is important to that person or organization. For example, when working with development, focus on how the new solution will solve their issues; when working with finance, highlight cost savings.

Select the Right Technology Solution

Often translation management involves technology purchases. To select the technology solution that is right for your company, follow purchasing best practices such as

  • identifying and documenting requirements such as expected word volume, language requirements, expected number of users, technical requirements (such as on-premise solution vs. hosted solution), and workflow expectations (such as including an in country review of all translation by members of your company located in other countries). All of the requirements you identify should be reviewed by the organizations involved in this initiative.
  • creating an RFP. Purchasing organizations use RFPs to identify qualified vendors which can include translation vendors and/or technology vendors.
  • bringing qualified vendors in for demonstrations and technology meetings with selected internal partners. The presentations are an opportunity to involve your partners in the technology selection process. They may surface concerns that you might not have thought of.
  • negotiating the contract and any SLAs with the vendor.
  • piloting the solution with actual content to demonstrate cost savings.

Make Your Case

Armed with the ROI, support from your business partners, and clear goals and objectives, you should be able to make the case to your leadership. If you have done your legwork, your initiative will not be a surprise to them and will be well received and supported.

About the Author
Mary Anne Henselmann is Director of Information Development Services at ADP. This year she has started a new Translation Management Services organization and is in the process of rolling out translation management technology.

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