Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Global Readiness Audit

A self-assessment audit for your global communication needs can be a valuable tool to determine your current situation, to set goals and to find areas of improvement that have the most impact. However, most assessment tools that we have seen provide solutions but do not focus on the leading indicators that impact your localization practices.

There are Language Service Providers (LSP's) that can help you determine your needs for global communications and most likely they promote the use of technology through their audits. Tools like Translation Memory Management, Terminology Management, Source Authoring are all good tools to improve the efficiency of your localization practices, but do not provide all the answers. Most Language Service Providers can take care of translation management using these tools. However, the success of each project is limited by their own Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and how they manage their own processes.

Our approach does not only look at our internal Key Performance Indicators for translation management, but also assesses how a client's processes can positively influence or negatively impact the localization process. Those are the leading indicators that a client can influence in order to improve quality and time-to-market at lower costs.

Most audits do not take into account that every organization is at a different stage of maturity and need scalable solutions. Even if you are a large company, your global communication needs currently might not be comprehensive enough to invest in large scale technologies like a full scale Source Authoring system or Content Management System. Technology is not the only answer for organizations to influence the quality of their global communication needs. You need to look at people and processes that have a direct impact on the localization processes.

The global communications process can be time consuming which is why most organizations outsource to a Language Service Provider. Some of these Providers have the resources and processes in place to effectively manage your translation process and keep that burden from your internal resources who have their own work to do. However, the impact that your internal resources have to affect the localization process should not be ignored. We promote involvement of people in all levels of your organization to find efficiencies in their own processes that have a positive impact on localization.

Our audit focuses on internal resources at all levels of the organization to determine how they can help improve their own processes to aid translation management on the client side. We identified 4 areas of assessment (Strategic, Organizational, Content and Language & Design) and identified roles within those areas that directly impact the global communications process. The assessment promotes each individual in the organization to contribute to the globalization process without having to step outside of their own responsibilities.

Contact us for our Global Readiness Audit. We are taking the next step for organizations at any maturity level to identify areas of improvement that yield the highest results.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Baldrige Focused LSP in a World of ISO 9001

ISO 9001 certification is the norm right now for LSPs (Language Service Providers) in the Localization Industry. As a company that follows Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, we're swimming against the tide of conformity. I do not believe that their should be an either/or approach in determination of the certification you choose and I view ISO 9001 and Six Sigma as tools that all fit in the toolbox for continuous improvement.

With Baldrige, there is a focus on performance excellence for the entire organization in an overall management framework and the Criteria focuses on identification and tracking of all-important organizational results: customer, product/service, financial, human resource, and organizational effectiveness. This year, I became a certified Examiner for the MQA Award with the State of Missouri and each employee will also go through this certification for their own professional growth next year. It's been an exhilarating experience!

Whereas ISO can lay the foundation for necessary procedural standardization and help to reduce variability, Baldrige can be used as a means of instituting broader quality management and provide the tools for analysis, prioritization and evaluation of the overall approach. Each are different but certainly can be compatible. We chose Baldrige for the educational approach which is an organizational value that is inherent in our organization and in our approach with client mentorship.

I will be focusing future blog posts on how Baldrige helps our own internal processes and compliments our process measurement system for clients managing translation.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Our Mission, Vision and Values

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Understanding Cultural Dimensions in a Global Incentive Rewards program

Recently, LSI’s own Jeroen Tetteroo, Senior Localization Manager, co-presented with our client, Maritz, at the Synygy Sales Performance Conference in Philadelphia. The presentation was based on a rolling out an International Total Rewards/Incentive system.

Jeroen and the Maritz team discussed how culture affects Pay Out Structure, Rule Structure and the type of Rewards that will appeal to different cultures. Jeroen presented LSI's metric "Build a Business Case for the decision to translate for a particular market". He showed how Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions can be used to support that decision and influence your strategy in designing an incentive/rewards program. To see this very interesting presentation, click here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Understand what you buy

It is essential for buyers of translations to understand how management of the translation cycle impacts their costs. We manage our translation projects by process and provide a detailed overview of what is entailed in the scope. Breaking out a project per process allows buyers to:
  • compare apples to apples when evaluating bids to ensure that all bids include the same services
  • see how their organization's own processes can impact the quality of the translations
  • understand how the order of the processes in the translation workflow can affect their overall costs
Compare apples to apples
How can a corporate buyer of translation services compare quality and price without looking at the processes involved in the translation workflow?
Most organizations look at the price per language when comparing quotes from multiple Language Service Providers. This allows them to assess their budget for each market. However, we mentioned earlier that if budget is an issue and organizations want to gauge which languages to choose, price should not be the leading factor. The organization should strategize as to where their dollars are spent most efficiently by looking at the language and cultural factors between the domestic market and target market. The potential within the target markets should be a deciding factor on what regions or countries to focus on. Those target markets that benefit most from translation and or localization should be on the top of the list.
Pricing out translation projects per language also inhibits process efficiencies that you may have when you combine languages together. Some project management tasks only need to be done once in a project – regardless of the number of languages. Therefore, buyers can see cost savings if languages are bundled together.
LSP TIP: Ask questions! When the price differs between vendors, find out why.
Buyer-side processes impact on translation.
A key piece of insight that we share with our clients is the importance of considering the entire Content Lifecycle. Many of the metrics in our Client Mentor Philosophy (CMP) focus on the processes that precede the translation process. Additional efficiencies can be achieved during translation if certain things are in place before the source copy is sent to translation.

One area we assess in our Global Readiness Scorecard is Content Readiness. Do we need to modify the files our clients send us before we send them to translation? Or, is the content ready to be translated?

The first steps in a translation project are File Preparation and Preflight. These two steps are impacted by the quality of the source documentation. The processes the buyer goes through before sending us their files affect the amount of preparation we must do before the translation can begin. One example is if a client sends us text in a Word file that has been stripped from a PDF, the line breaks that divide the phrases must be removed so that the translators have entire sentences to translate, rather than broken pieces. Another example is if the text contains cultural references that would not apply to the target audience. These references will not be affective if they are simply translated. The source text would need to be revised so that the cultural references are removed. Or, the translator would need to adapt the translation to include a reference appropriate for the target culture.

Translation buyers must understand their translation provider’s processes in order to see how their processes can impact the quality of the translations. This is where transparency and mentorship come in and can be of great benefit for translation buyers in the 80th percentile of the GCMM.
LSP TIP: Strive for transparency! Get insight into your translation provider's processes so that you can work together to make efficiencies in the Content Lifecycle.
Well-planned workflows = Predictable costs and timeframes
A process-oriented workflow enables you to predict inefficiencies that can creep in later in a project. Organizations tend to overspend on projects when strategic decisions are made after the project has already started. When additional phases are added by the organization as an afterthought, the processes before and after these new phases are affected. That is why the Client Mentor Program focuses on those leading indicators.

Often clients are focused on the end goal of getting their translation by a certain date. They believe that getting the translation started as soon as possible will get them to that end date more quickly. What we point out in our Client Mentor Program is that preparation is everything when it comes to effective project management. Taking time before translation starts to evaluate which phases must be part of the project may add a few extra days on to the schedule. However, with a well-planned project workflow, we reduce the chance of adding in phases late in the project that require rework or repeating phases that are already complete. Repeating phases adds to both the schedule and the bottom line.

LSP TIP: Take the time to understand what steps are needed in your project workflow. You'll see the extra planning time up front will save you time and money in the end.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Collaboration and Teamwork – Many hands make light work

Many of our clients requesting translation projects do not feel like they have time to assess and resolve process inefficiencies. What they don’t know is that the responsibility for process efficiency is not in their hands alone.

A popular process management philosophy, Kaizen, states that when you look at improving an inefficient process, you have to look at all of the processes that are of influence or being affected by the inefficient process in order to create real improvement. Consider your vendors and internal staff to be part of the translation process. We actively encourage our client requesters to put us in direct contact with the project team – including both external vendors and internal staff – to collaborate with us and discuss efficiencies at each step of the process.

When one of our clients chose a new technology vendor for their online surveys, we contacted the vendor directly to get a better understanding of their proprietary technology. While the vendor had previous experience with Language Service Providers, we found out that the process for retrieving and storing multilingual content was manual. After a direct discussion with the vendor, we were able to find specific inefficiencies that impacted the time and costs for our client. We optimized the process to work within the vendor's proprietary software. And we were able to provide the vendor with useful information on how to improve their software for multilingual content.

We have defined 20 Readiness Objectives in our Client Mentor Program™. Our objectives tie directly in with the issues we resolved for this client. Here are two examples.

Organizational Readiness Objective: Ensure quality outputs by assigning team members to participate together in tasks that require their expertise and knowledge.

This objective takes into account every resource and person who influences the translation process. It formalizes the relationships between all the team members involved in the translation process. In this case, the technology vendor played a very important role in the translation process because their proprietary software was not designed for localization. Direct contact with the vendor was necessary for us to help our client mitigate the risk of overspending.

Content Readiness Objective: Eliminate redundant steps in the process of developing source copy.

The localization industry uses a lot of technology to manage content for translation. The technology vendor’s proprietary software introduced redundant processes because it was not setup for localization. We assess whether technologies our clients are using are designed with localization in mind and their impact on cost and timeframe. With this information, our clients can select appropriate technology vendors. Our assessment can also help technology vendors to improve their products by adding support for languages other than English.

Resolving all the inefficiencies throughout the process are not the responsibility of just one person. It takes teamwork and collaboration!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bring on the pain! When translation's too late!

You cannot change what has happened in the past. However, you can learn from it by identifying those behaviors that have both helped and hindered your company in the past. Those are lagging indicators. You can greatly benefit from understanding these behaviors and how they’ve impacted your company. You can change the future by looking at leading indicators and taking a proactive approach with the way you manage your translation. It’s never too late!

Taking a proactive approach by identifying and managing those leading indicators that have an impact on their projects can help organizations avoid the pain. However, if an organization has never felt the pain, they are less likely to find value in a proactive approach–especially when translation is not their highest priority. It is a vicious cycle that organizations have a hard time escaping.

When do multilingual communications become important enough for organizations to start investing in internal process assessment and management to gain efficiencies in the translation process?

When we introduced the Client Mentor Program™ in 2008, we realized that organizations who are managing their translation projects often do not understand how they impact the costs of their translation projects. 80 % of organizations with multilingual communications need guidance and assistance in order to mature on the Global Communications Maturity Model. These organizations view their multilingual communications as just an expense. They do not tie translation to return on investment. They will not understand the impact of an inefficient process until they feel the pains associated with a project that does not go as they expect.

We at Language Solutions have our own internal metrics defined for managing translation processes efficiently for our clients. But we can only control so much... At some point, processes on the client’s side are beyond our direct control. Our focus, therefore, is to help organizations gain control of their own internal processes. Our Global Readiness Scorecard was designed for our client’s benefit to help them evaluate their processes. We then work with them to implement metrics for improving their processes.

Process efficiency translates into cost savings and has a positive impact on timeframes and the quality of the work. All of this can be achieved if an organization understands how their internal processes that happen before and after translation impact the translation process. These are the processes that you can control….if it’s important to you.

Edited by Jeanne Granda