Thursday, December 9, 2010

Size does matter!

So.... you are choosing a Language Service Provider or LSP as they are known in our industry or maybe you want to find a new provider..... what size company will fit your needs? Well that is something that should definitely be discussed with any providers you might consider - your needs......not their size. That should be the first point of discussion.

In our Industry, there are a lot of large translation providers - some public and some private. Allow me to make the case for you to consider a smaller organization. What are the advantages for you?

Our culture here at Language Solutions is based on a Customer First culture where we strive to truly understand not only your needs but those of your organization as well. What is your experience going to be with Language Solutions? As a smaller company, we can deliver on a Customer First model much better than a larger company can.

Agility - we have agility as a smaller organization and can move more quickly in response to your needs to serve you better. We have the capacity for rapid change and flexibility according to your customized needs.

Service Driven - you will have 2 dedicated points of contact for your projects. We don't have a rotating staff of project managers and as a smaller company, our employee retention levels are much greater than a larger organization so you won't be with a new person each time!

Long Term Relationships - Instead of a Service Level Agreement that is based on deliverables, why not consider an outcomes based relationship agreement. Let's discuss together what you want from our partnership and then set up accountability measures for that.

Involvement and Investment - As the President of this organization, I am involved in your growth and help to drive your performance. For some of our clients, this means meeting with their end clients to help answer questions, bring strategy to the table, being their first call for any language related question or challenge - true collaboration. What does collaboration mean for you? What kind of support would you benefit from?

A partnership that focuses on collaboration also leads to trust. I challenge you to look beyond price and see whether you are receiving value from the relationship you have or wish to have.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How do we engage customers, serve their needs and build relationships

To answer this Baldrige overall requirement and as part of our ongoing quest for Baldrige Performance Excellence, Language Solutions recently finished a Voice of the Customer (VoC) initiative with our clients. From there, we developed action plans customized to the needs of each client using the SWOT analysis with data from the VoC process. The SWOT analysis considers those internal and external organizational factors that influence quality, time and cost on translation projects. We also use the Kano model to track customer requirements and how they change over time. We focus on delivering value by seeking out both spoken and unspoken needs of the customer and translating that into actions.

There are three customer requirements in the Kano model:

  • Revealed (Performance) - requirements in proportion to their absence or presence in the product or service
  • Expected (Must Be) - basic requirements that customers often fail to mention unless they are not fulfilled. Satisfaction is often not recognized by customers but dissatisfaction is very much recognized.
  • Exciting (Delighters) - the holy grail that we aim with each contact! These are the requirements that go beyond a customer's expectations.
This model is very dynamic by nature. What is exciting now can be expected tomorrow. Expected requirements may also become exciting after a real or potential failure. Our focus on internal quality helps assure that expected requirements do not fall through the cracks and points out opportunities to build in excitement.

Each customized action plan seeks involvement at the client's decision making process for a translation project. For instance, if you have a sales force that is scoping a translation process and need to set realistic expectations, we need to make sure that our action plan is to support the sales process wherever possible.
Being involved in the decision making process helps us to understand the client specific requirements. It also provides an opportunity to bring in our perspective to set realistic expectations where it will have the most meaningful impact. Our VoC process also confirms that it is much more difficult for clients to address processes at the request stage since the project needs have already mostly been defined by then.

At the request level, it is important to be able to meet the current needs of the client. Therefore, we also look at how current needs impact our workflow and where we can improve. We build relationships with our clients to understand and manage ongoing needs as much as possible so that we can plan ahead.

In our linguistic team selection, we make sure that there is enough flexibility to meet timeframes. While we choose our linguists based on various quality metrics, we also continue to train our linguists in the various technologies that we work in to ensure consistency and quality. This training helps us to provide the most qualified linguist who are capable of working efficiently using our technology.

A client based action plan helps us to support and influence the process where it makes the most impact. Whether this is at our internal process to provide enough flexibility or to help the client make decisions at the decision making process, we manage these needs throughout the value chain. The goal is to be prepared as much as possible to avoid any bottlenecks that could affect fulfilling the client's needs and this started with understanding Voice of the Customer.

We continue to use the Voice of the Customer and the Baldrige's systems approach to address individual needs from a holistic perspective. We listen both to client needs, vendor needs and concerns which have enabled us to provide the highest quality work at the right time.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Missouri Quality Award

I just recently completed my first year as a Missouri Quality Examiner for the Missouri Quality Award program. The Missouri Quality Award is the State level award recognition for excellence in performance management in the educational, health care and manufacturing/service sector. The award is guided by the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.

The Baldrige Criteria is built on a foundation of core values and concepts that characterize high performing organizations. One aspect that especially came to attention is the core value of "Management by Fact." High performing organizations use leading performance measurements derived from the organizational needs and strategy that support the decision making process.

The use of performance indicators in the decision making process brings the organization to the next level of excellence because the organization does not only have a process for doing the work, they have a system for analyzing, evaluating and innovating these processes. High performing organizations not only look at current and historic data, but also uses comparative data and performance projections to predict future outcomes that guide the decision making process.

So what information could you be using in the decision making of your investment in multilingual communications? What are the needs of your customer or employee that drive this investment (to support, to inform, to engage, to comply)? Are you currently tracking the performance of your operations in foreign markets? How can you attribute (market) success to the use of effective multilingual communications?

Remember that investment in supporting a language is a long-term commitment. The questions are important to ask as you grow your business internationally. It forces you to think about your investment and where and how it should be spent best.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why an audit?

Taking a step back in your organization to assess your strategic needs for the future is not a bad idea in this economy. Everyone is looking for efficiencies that will help reduce expenses and increase profits down the line.

How would a Global Communication Readiness Assessment fit into your strategic planning? Most of you may have a strategic plan, but how many of you have effective global communications as a line item on that strategic plan? Our experience is that global communication often resides on the day-to-day operational level. Efficiencies are usually only addressed on project level and learning and growth is often siloed from other departments.

This is understandable; there are many strategic and tactical or operational challenges that an organization has to deal with. Time is a valuable asset of an organization and you want to spend it wisely. The volume of your global communications may not be large enough to justify spending a lot of managerial time to optimize every global communication process, perhaps just not yet!

Clients of ours using the assessment have noted that they can do this at their own pace, pass it around to others in the organization to compare, bring it with them to the next strategy meeting to bring awareness to potential "gaps", and elevate their own position with ideas on how they can go forward.

Realizing that there are restrictions to the time your organization has available is all the more reason to take this assessment and look at the areas that of improvement that will benefit you most. The assessment provides insightful questions on both operational and strategic levels that can be addressed. The most important aspect of this assessment is to get the communication process on the agenda for improvement. You want to be ready to scale up for the future!

The assessment can work on any level of the organization and the questions are organized to be scalable to any stage of maturation. Even on a project level or departmental level, the assessment can provide insight into your writing, designing and file management process that has an impact on the translation and localization process that follows.

Every little progress helps. Meet with Language Solutions to talk about your needs to get started and take control over your global communication process so that you can depend on it now and in the future.