Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Global Communication Maturity Model 2.0

Our Global Communication Maturity Model™ (also known in our industry as Localization Maturity by Common Sense Advisory) has undergone further enhancements:

(click to enlarge for a printable version)

Our LSI Global Communication Maturity Model reveals the stages through which organizations will progress when implementing a multilingual communications strategy. Each stage represents a point in time when an organization faces unique challenges that must be met and built upon in order to move forward on their global business path.

Our updated model shows 4 key dynamics of maturity:
  • Scope of work increases exponentially and can take over domestic work. Volume increases by adding more content (usually top-down) and by adding languages. Language support of less strategic content is justified at higher stages of maturity due to automation and processes that make it more cost efficient to work with high volume levels. Levels of acceptable quality get more diversified as you go up on the maturity level as well.  
  • Process Focus is most important in the early stages of maturity before standardization and centralization (and certification) controls the process. The process focus in mature stages focuses more on control audit and improvement.
  • Technology Maturity is usually an investment in content management systems needed to move to a mature stage and grows further by means of technology automation . The level and timing of that investment differ between organizations as budgets usually control the decision making process, but the critical stages start at High Risk. Budget conflict is a possibility when organizations not able to justify their investment in technology. Organizations go out to find support from their LSP to manage and control technology until they make the investment to take control content for translation.
  • LSP Involvement shows that in the first 4 stages (reactive stages), the LSP plays an important role in Localization Maturity. That involvement continues in the mature stages, but organizations work to become more self-sufficient where LSPs are an integral part of a systematic process.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to evaluate your buying decisions? - Conscious Stage

Conscious Stage 
Organizations at this stage are just beginning to realize all that is involved in multilingual communications. The Conscious stage is still very project driven, but projects become more repeatable and cost awareness is growing. Organizations are testing out new markets.

Below is an overview of the Conscious Stage compared to the other reactive stages:
Global Communication Maturity Model Language Solutions

How do I protect my brand identity in foreign markets?
It's normal at this stage that organizations try to go through local affiliates (this could be your distributor, employee within a local office, etc.) for basic translation needs as local affiliates know the needs of the audience, are knowledgeable of the subject and provide a low cost option over a translation vendor. However, local affiliates usually lack time to translate materials on time and brand consistency is often a concern.

It's a challenge to control brand messaging and design standards over different local affiliates. Each have their own processes, resources and insights. We have seen with organizations in this stage, that decentralized efforts usually end up in dissatisfaction because decisions made at the local level do not align with the organization's expectations.

We find that the centralization effort is one of the first major efforts or organizations to think about process improvements in . Local affiliates are very useful in the process, but management of content and design needs to be controlled.

What can I expect from my vendor at this stage?
Aside from managing dedicated subject matter experts in client specific teams, in the case of centralization, your translation vendor should be the catalyst for process improvement. Translation becomes a cycle of content management, terminology and translation management and review management where the translation vendor can play a central role.

Also Read: Global Readiness Audit; It's our assessment model to assess the organization's needs for process improvement efforts that make the most impact at each stage of maturity.

Process management becomes a problem and a vendor should be able to control the process from release through translation, review and final product. Also, each step is managed so that the brand messaging is protected. There is an important role to play in understanding what could hurt the brand and how it should be managed from a design and terminology perspective. Vendors should be empowered with this information in order to manage and vendors should have excellent control over review processes with local affiliates and understand the dynamics at play.

Readiness Categories as it relates to
management levels in the organization
Also, a vendor should help to start you on the path of standardization. Style guides are very useful at this stage to define what elements are part of the global brand vs. what elements are local and how they should be implemented consistently. Organizations should rely on their translation vendor to have a process in place and to suggest process improvements. We have defined clear objectives and processes in our Language and Design Readiness Categories that are directly applicable to this stage of growth.

What input can I deliver in collaboration with my translation vendor to contribute to a positive outcome?
In earlier blog posts, we've written that it is important to protect the brand messaging. Translation is almost becoming a threat to brand consistency if not managed well. With your trust that your vendor will handle the management of the translation process, a successful outcome cannot be achieved without a clear understanding of the brand and brand messaging. Collaboration early on is essential to establish an understanding of the organization's goals and desired outcomes. Also, management of people and expectations need to be communicated from the organization to all parties. Too often have we seen that organizations who cannot commit to the process end up back to managing decentralized efforts, or at least, growing cost inefficiencies.

What processes do I optimize at this stage?
Considering that your translation vendor is trusted with most of the translation management, there are still processes that the organization can start to work on. In the Language and Design categories, we work to optimize the content and design creation process and make sure that the output is optimized for translation as well. Organizations should focus on small efforts with their writing staff and design team to plan projects ahead and standardize the output for translation.

Global style guides are also a good start as well as Translation and Terminology management together with Corporate Glossaries. This is an asset building exercise that requires input from the organization as well.

What are my risks?
Also Read: Case Study: How low cost purchasing decisions come back with a bite. This case study fits well with organizations at the Conscious level who manage repeatable projects.

Here are some of the risk factors we identified at this stage:
Risk factors in Conscious Stage
Consider that at this stage, your commitment to translation is growing. Translation work can quickly take its own path without any consideration for your brand or product. Consider that your brand is worth protecting as it is the brand and quality of work that brought you this potential. By taking care of your brand at this stage with a dedicated translation vendor that can manage your centralization efforts early on and by supporting the process as much as possible, the risks at this stage can be mitigated.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to evaluate your buying decisions? - Ad-Hoc Stage

We've blogged about the stages of maturity and how buyers of translations could use it as a benchmark. As a buyer of translations, it is easy to get overwhelmed with information, especially at the Reactive Stages. Therefore, we've developed a few basic questions that may help to get a conversation started with LSPs when evaluating buying decisions at each level of maturity.

Today, we'll cover the Ad-Hoc stage.

Ad-Hoc Localization Maturity
Excerpt from our Presentation on Localization Maturity
Ad-hoc Stage
The Ad-hoc stage is the first stage of maturity. Organizations at this stage are beginning to respond to international (or domestic foreign language) market demands.

Buying translations is a black-box to many. Because buyers cannot evaluate the value points when they purchase translations at this stage, price is the only factor to fall back on when evaluating buying decisions.

1. Why is there a price difference in my quotes and how should I evaluate the price difference?
Even at the basic level you should ask critical questions about what is quoted, why you get these services and how it would affect your outcomes. Is translation just based on word count or are there other critical processes that I should keep in mind, such as review and project management. What service level do I expect? What are my timeframe options? How can I be sure that the translation is done by a qualified team and how does the LSP evaluate this? How can I be sure that my project is evaluated and I don't end up with costly out-of-scope work?

Recommended read: We've written before about evaluating price differences in a previous post called "understanding what you buy."

2. What should I expect from my Language Service Provider (LSP) at this stage?
Translation could be a long-term commitment. When organizations start to support foreign language speakers with translated content, that creates a commitment. What will your LSP do today to make your project a success and what can you expect when you go back to them for more work? Are LSPs building assets for you like Translation Memory and Glossaries and do they share these with you? Do they care to explain how these assets can help your organization? Are they interested to help you move up the maturity levels; are they knowledgeable about your industry and interested to learn about your organization, goals and objectives?

3. What risks are there to my project's outcome?

At this stage, project outcome is the main concern. Even though the project may seem small, investing your time and effort to do this right at the start can not only bring a positive start in reaching out to your second language audience, it also is a positive start for your organization to start with translation.

A display advertisement by McDonalds went viral.
A proof by a Project Manager after this went to layout should have caught that the Hmong translation had no spaces in itThis is a case of a translation company just getting a translation and not even looking at it. 
No matter how small a project, each communicated piece is a purposeful effort to reach an intended audience. Start a conversation with your LSP about your audience and what your goals and objectives are. Does your LSP ask in-depth questions about that the content in relation to the intended audience and are they able to talk intelligently about the subject?

Translation gaffes often involve small things and where risk does not seem to be so apparent. Often, the smaller projects are the most complex projects. The risk of a bad outcome in - for instance - a work safety manual is very apparent. But a seemingly innocent and relatively simple and creative Coca-Cola project with random words ended up in a marketing debacle for this large organization.

That also brings another point about risk and maturity levels: even large international organizations may not always be a mature buyer of translation services. Even though Coca-Cola has done some very innovative advertising with their name in foreign languages (name and brand = risk) and other work that we have posted on our Facebook page, this effort clearly showed buyer immaturity and lack of project management.

In conclusion
Use these 3 questions to discern the value of what you are getting from their translation project and move beyond the price evaluation alone. Understand that even at this stage of maturity, a translation project has value to your audience and your organization.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How maturity models shaped our thinking...

In previous posts, we have written on the Localization Maturity Model that is being talked about in our industry. We have written on the maturity of suppliers as well as buyers.  Today, we take a look at other maturity models that influenced our development of the Global Communication Maturity Model.

In our model, we identified 2 stages of growth where conflict is at its highest point in the maturity of an organization: Brute-force and High-risk. The brute force stage is where conflicts start to impact project efficiencies. This is often a trial and error stage, but with potential long term effects as we have seen with organizations who have fallen back to low budget models as a method to control costs, without any return on the investment that they made beforehand.
Rather than downplaying these conflicting stages of growth by focusing on ideal situations,  we emphasize and recognize these stages as natural progressions of growth. We feel this is a departure from other models as we embrace the conflict and define these stages as crucial success points on the maturity model and ones that an organization must go through.  It's the journey that can be impacted though... 

Capability Maturity Model
Maturity Model
The development of our Global Communication Maturity Model was inspired by the Capability Maturity Model that was used in the software industry.  The Capability Maturity Model was based on a set of structured levels that describe how well the behaviors, practices and processes of an organization can reliably and sustainably produce required outcomes.

From there, the People Capability Maturity model evolved, where the human asset was placed at the central focus of continuous improvement efforts. Both models provided a foundation for our Global Communication Maturity Model.

Global Readiness areas
Our idea was to come up with a similar benchmark model for our industry by which we could identify where a company is located on the maturity model and define key processes, objectives and metrics at each level to manage the localization process and growth.  We had to look not only at the organization but at the individuals/departments/divisions/executive management within those organizations.  We all know that we don't deal with organizations.....we deal with people in those organizations! (Tweet this!)  In the model to the right, we align the readiness areas of our objectives for maturity with the people areas within an organization.
Reactive....not Proactive
global communication maturity model
Our model really focuses on the reactive stages (the first 4 stages of maturity). Buyers of translation services from 80% of organizations are most likely to overspend, impact quality and customer satisfaction. (Tweet this!)  It is these buyers/organizations who can benefit most from prioritized strategies and objectives.  These are the companies that will most likely benefit from best practices in the localization industry.

Even very large companies working with software localization and experiencing higher levels of maturity may not have this level of maturity throughout their whole organization. Many times, it is within one part of the organization but has not spread throughout.  It reinforces the idea too that there really is no such thing as a mature business.

Natural Conflict Arises: Organizations that experience larger volumes of translation needs also have a growing awareness of the costs involved. Project inefficiencies also start to compound as volume grows and it negatively impacts the decisions that are made to move projects forward. Based on research and in our experience, a sustainable growth model or maturity model is not self-evident to organizations and the people within them. At some point of growth, conflicts arise between budget, time and quality needs.

The goal of our model is to help buyers get through the stages of maturity and invest in their translation and localization processes as it fits their business needs. A maturity model can help buyers to see the road ahead and understand the goals that they have in mind as their needs grow. Most importantly, when buyers enter the brute-force stage, it is important to manage expectations ahead of time because growth undoubtedly will lead to conflict if expectations are not managed.

Organizations can be more proactive to look at the leading indicators that can influence their maturation rate and the pains that come along with it.  Too many organizations focus on the lagging measures such as profit, ROI, etc.  When you determine the lagging measures, there is nothing you can do about them.  Common sense would tell us we need to go back and examine our historical markers as to how we got there.......

A Word to Language Service Providers

We know that there are other LSPs out there that do want to help organizations succeed.  There is going to have to be a shift in our industry and a focus on helping organizations in the reactive stages.  You may think that it is only the smaller companies who are in these reactive stages of maturity but a Watson Wyatt study found that 80% of organizations do not have a documented global communications strategy.  It can be any size of organization and you can probably see your own clients there.  What can we do together? We have tools that we have developed and are willing to share if you are an LSP that can effectively help your client.  Give us a call or email and let's talk ....

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Language Service Providers: Are you mature enough?

The Translation Industry (aka Localization Industry) is one that has a relatively low barrier to entry.  Anyone can enter this industry and set up shop as a translation company.  These new companies may have little knowledge of process or technologies and they may help in reinforcing the buyer's perception that translation services are a commodity purchase.  This low barrier to entry also indicates that the industry as a whole has no common platform of quality standards on which to operate.

In 2008, after working with a consultant and thinking of this idea of "buyer maturity", a team of us set out and tediously researched various maturity models and other standards such as the
Capability Maturity Model, the People Capability Maturity Model (because it's not just the organization but the people within the organization), the Business Process Maturity Model, the ASTM Quality Standard on Translation, and the LISA Best Practices Guide.

We developed the
Global Communication Maturity Model and then set out to identify a process management system for our industry with defined objectives, analysis, KPIs and measures, all set in a balanced scorecard framework. We are also heavily involved in Baldrige Performance Excellence and the balanced scorecard framework is second nature to us and seemed the right fit for this framework in order to provide our clients with a developed program to avoid the risks inherent in their own maturation.

At that time, unbeknown to us, Common Sense Advisory had offered a framework for buyers of translation services to consider in 2006, the
Localization Maturity Model.  Imagine our surprise when we came upon it about a year after we had been deep in our research.  However, lately, it seems to have resurged in the news in our industry so with that, it is also a good time to highlight the research we have done and offer to not only buyers of translation services but also to LSPs out there who also work with this mindset and want to do more in the industry to move buyers through the model.

An interesting blog post by Jörgen Danielsen from 2006 shares some interesting insights in reaction to the emergence of the Localization Maturity Model (LMM) at that time and how it could help the industry to overcome the lack of quality standards. He argues that the progression on the buyer side as a factor of success might also assume that there is a certain level of maturity on the supplier side. He states further that the Localization Maturity Model could provide understanding between buyer and vendor in relation to the quality that is desired at different stages of maturation.

Bert Esselink also wrote
in reaction to the LMM that "buyers of localization should really look at their procurement model and make informed decisions at different stages of maturation."

That was back in 2006 and progress, as well as news on buyer maturation, has been very slow. Our industry has mostly been preoccupied with technology disruptors like Machine Translation and crowd sourcing as a common threat to, and subsequently defined as a differentiating opportunity, in our industry.

Most likely, the biggest reason for lack of progress is that there are plenty of buyers out there who still do not know what to ask for when it comes to buying translation services. We've written earlier in blog posts since 2008 on buyer maturation and have offered tools, analysis, perspectives and case studies  with: Understand What You Buy, Too much focus on lagging measures, Global Readiness Audit and our personal favorite, Bring on the pain! When Translation's too late!

Esselink hinted at this lack of progress in his blog in 2006. "If there is no common understanding of what the cost drivers are of translation services, how can we ever expect buyers to compare apples to apples?" Some companies, however, do move beyond the price per word models and are getting a better understanding of cost factors. However, we have learned that even the most detailed client RFPs lack realistic expectations. Somewhere in the learning process, the client has misunderstood the important cost, quality and turnaround factors and how to evaluate these in relationship to each other.

The nice thing about RFPs is that you usually get to see questions from other LSPs as well. A recent RFP with a big Fortune 500 company revealed that our competing LSPs simply had no insightful questions to ask. While there were technical questions about payment terms and others about some erroneous omissions in the RFP regarding word count and various assumptions, we could honestly say that we were the only LSP to ask demanding questions about their level of understanding of the "cost, quality and turnaround" expectations.  We attributed more than 50% of all questions came directly from us. Perhaps our industry is tired of explaining the value of what we do. We're anyone out there listening?

In Danielsen's blog, Jorgen argues that the success of localization and optimization of translation processes is not only a factor of the Localization Maturity of a buyer, but also the Localization Maturity of the vendor (the LSP). So buyers....start asking this question to LSPs - "Where are you on the Maturation Model?"

We are really excited to see that now, in 2013, others in our industry are starting to talk more about this.  Is this enough?  What can we do collectively?

Consider that the top 10 Google search results for "Localization Maturity" include the two blogs from 2006 that we mentioned earlier. Their insightful questions still stand as something to be determined in our industry:

1. Can we as an industry help buyers to become more sophisticated in their procurement of localization? (Tweet this!) and

2. Can Localization Maturity be the answer to realistically define quality in our industry to our clients? 

Common Sense Advisory is currently offering training to LSPs to teach them to approach buyers of translation services with this maturity model.  At this time, it appears that it is being adopted by LSPs who are willing to pay the membership fees to attend their training or a conference, but this may certainly be cost prohibitive to many small to medium sized LSPs (the bulk of the industry) who are still influencing buyer perceptions.

While many LSPs may walk away with the entrée to offer to their prospects (the maturity model which is the framework for clients to assess their current maturity), there are no 'side dishes' being offered to the LSPs to give companies the tools to do assessment, a framework of objectives, a road map of key process areas to focus on, etc.  There is definitely thought leadership in this area from LSPs, but it takes time to develop and document these things when you are not paid to develop them unless hired as a consultant by the organization that is in a pain point on the maturation model. 

What can we do collectively?  There are other process minded LSPs that are out there that may have developed programs and tools that they offer their clients.  Why can't we come together and form a new niche in the industry? What can we do to change the status quo and not only move organizations through maturation with less risk and change their perceptions that come along with that but also set out and proclaim our status as Mature Suppliers.

We're willing to share what we have developed......who is with us on this?  We are seeking those LSPs that have a customer first culture, those that have agility and those who want to help organizations succeed with the knowledge we have developed.\

Read our follow up post on LSP Maturity here:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Localization Maturity - The Reactive Stages in depth

Organizations can use the Maturity model as a benchmark to see the growth model that they will go through when using global communications.  This model can help organizations see that they are not alone and do not have to start from scratch on defining all the key processes on their end that put them at risk during their growth.

Scroll through our presentation to learn more:

LSI Global Communications Maturity Model from Language Solutions Inc.

There are some language service providers that are starting to adopt Common Sense Advisory's Localization Maturity Model in their approach with new or existing clients.  Our model goes more in depth through the first four stages as 80% of organizations are somewhere in these 4 stages.  As an assessment tool to help our clients, we developed the Global Communications Readiness Audit to   help them identify the key objectives and areas in their organization on which to focus at a particular time.
global readiness areas
An organization does not need to hire an LSP as a separate consulting firm to come in for indefinite periods of time and define objectives.  Other LSPs may have good ideas and best practices to share with you but organizations really need a documented standard in place.  In 2009, we developed a Balanced Scorecard for the Industry with 20 key objectives along with measures, KPIs and a SWOT analysis.  This is the standard that organizations can begin using to save cost and time and begin innovating.

Let us know if you would like to start the conversation to see if we would be the right fit for you and your organization.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Closer look at Objectives

We have created objectives for buyers of translation services in our Global Communication Maturity Model, our adaptation of the Localization Maturity Model. Here is one of the twenty objectives:


Eliminate redundant steps in the process of developing source copy.

Sounds pretty simple, eh? Whenever we review this objective to make it more relevant, we find that this objective still resonates with us the way we wrote it 5 years ago. It is about drilling down to those 20 most important and key processes.

This objective was formulated to help buyers of translation services understand the impact of their source copy development on the translation process and costs. If they can more effectively develop their source copy, leverage from previously written content and in a way where content can be developed for different types of media, the translation process will also go a lot smoother.

To expand on this objective, we also make it more useful by adding specific action items and metrics that are relevant in specific stages of maturation. Those action items and metrics are not formulated around one specific technology, but rather the processes and the efficiencies that we are trying to reach and that companies can put into action right away.
Translating language of numbers

Technology improvements have made it possible for more small and midsize companies to consider source authoring as a way to improve the process of developing source copy. Our action items were written around the identification of the process workflow and bottlenecks to identify the most important points of improvement. It is the organization's responsibility to find a solution that fits their needs, but we can help organizations assess whether a source authoring tool has the capabilities that also help them get content out that flows more efficiently through our work process as well.

These objectives are great starting points for companies to start thinking about optimizing their processes for translation and localization, without losing focus on the overall objectives of the company. All objectives (20) are defined around the perspectives of the balanced scorecard and can be integrated into an organization's own balanced scorecard.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Moments of Truth

There are several critical times during a customer’s relationship where a decision is made – by the customer – to continue or discontinue interacting with a company. Each industry has its own unique interactions.

We call these "moments of truth" and how a company interacts with the customers can significantly increase (or decrease) the long-term viability of that relationship. Identifying and anticipating those points of clarify is critical to maintain and grow that customer relationship.

Here are our Moments of Truth for our customers.  Do you know yours?

Our 5 Critical Customer Experiences - Moments of Truth

The "Make me look good" Moment - Precision you can count on...
That moment where we are able to help a client out by finding something that should be corrected in their source materials and that they may have missed themselves and it is critical to the project. This may be a typo, phrasing for clarification, formatting issues, etc. The "Make me look good" moment can also save the client on costs by finding issues that may have caused costly rework at the end.

This is often expressed by the client as "great catch!"

The "Make me feel important" Moment - Service you can count on...
Our clients know who their personal account manager is but can talk to anyone in our organization about their account and get answers and resolution. Whether you are a new customer, sporadic customer or frequent customer, our customer service is always the same.  We realize that each company and person has unique requirements and we provide customer service based on those unique needs.  No question is a stupid question.

This is often expressed by the client as "you treat me so good"

The "Show Me" Moment - People you can count on...
That moment where we can demonstrate our accountability for the accuracy of the work provided.
This may be during a client linguistic review process or during a non-conformity in a project. This is where the trust in LSI is challenged and we are able to retain or gain their trust though our processes and/or detailed analysis.

Language you can trust

This may be identified by clients in their own acknowledgement of their accountability in the process.
The "Dream Team" Moment - Passion you can count on...
That moment when our client can count on us to step in and become part of their team in a conference call, pre-project analysis, client meetings, etc. LSI recognizes that it is a privilege to be part of that team as well as the responsibility to share in the client's success.  There are key experiences that lead to this moment: Personal friendships may be formed, the individual client may become a champion for our services in their organization, or the client has experienced personal growth/learning because of our support.

This may be identified by clients in their description of us "partners" or as "a part of us"

The "Maturation" Moment - Language you can trust...
That moment when our collaboration with the client has caused a shift in the client's opinion and the client places priority on the processes around translation. The client understands the importance of the process vs. translation itself. In this sense, the client can be integral in moving the company towards the next maturation stage on the Global Communications Maturity Model.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our experience with the localization maturity model

Our Global Communication Maturity Model - like the Localization Maturity Model (LMM) - shows a natural evolution of maturity of a buyer. We know that this growth will only happen if translation services become of an increasingly important strategic factor for growth.

Global Communications Maturity Model
Our research was predicated on the industry assessment that many organizations tend to overspend on translations as they grow. There is a clear opportunity for LSPs to provide additional customer service by focusing on 80% of translation buyers that are at the beginning 4 stages of maturity in the maturity model.

Why buyers fail to move up the maturity level
In our experience, these are some of the leading factors within the buying organization:
  • Lack of organizational support (translation is not deemed important enough)
  • Lack of time (inadequate job responsibility; no dedicated localization manager in house; unrealistic deadlines)
  • Lack of understanding (no insight into the cause/effect of their own processes on the translation process)
  • Lack of information sharing (buyer/vendor relationship structure; lack of proper follow-up
Without any intervention in this growth process, a buyer can lose its control over the costs of translation. (Tweet this!)

How LSPs fail to help buyers move up the maturity level
Barriers for LSPs to help buyers:
  • Lack of process (documented process to identify, analyze and implement process improvements on the buyer's side)
  • Lack of understanding of client process, goals and objectives (relationship)
  • Lack of vision (too much focus on the translation process)
These barriers are not easy to overcome, but they are necessary to maintain a relationship with their client as they grow into the next stage of maturity.

How LSPs can help buyers move up the maturity level
A collaborative effort between buyer and LSP, especially at the early stages of maturity, is essential to meaningful improvements (Tweet this!). This is where the balanced scorecard approach is an excellent tool to establish goals and objectives that not only address our responsibilities, but also looks at the buyer's responsibility to protect their goals and objectives in their own processes.

An LSP can help a buyer by reminding them of the impact of changing requirements and at the same time providing them with insight into improvements that are meaningful to the goals and objectives that the client has.

The ideal approach:
  1. Assessment of Maturity - We have developed an assessment tool (Global Communication Readiness Assessment) for buyers to get an understanding of their level of maturity. This tool is a great way to introduce buyers into thinking about their own processes and how it affects their outcomes
  2. Understanding Need - SWOT analysis - A documented approach to understand the goals and objectives of the buyer and find the gaps through a SWOT analysis.
  3. Discovery and Findings - In a collaborative effort, turn findings into priorities that you agree to work on.  
  4. Balanced Scorecard approach - An outcomes based agreement between the buyer and us establishes meaningful goals and objectives that are aligned with the findings of the SWOT analysis. Metrics are defined to measure the progress of each of these goals.
  5. Reporting on progress and continuous improvement - A quarterly report keeps track of progress and forms the basis of continuous improvement (see the Balanced Scorecard example).
But even when there is no time for this ideal approach, an LSP should be able to adapt and work on process improvements. The GCMM or Localization Maturity Model is an important asset to any LSP to continuously look for opportunities to extend their knowledge to the buyer in order to help them move.

We'll look more into that assessment tool for LSPs in following posts.

Monday, May 6, 2013

How your LSP can move you up the Localization Maturity Model (LMM)

We're very keen to learn that one of the industry's leading research organizations, Common Sense Advisory, has continued to support their Localization Maturity Model that they initiated in 2006, with further publications on this subject. The model is directed towards buyers of translation and localization services and LSPs (Language Service Providers) and provides an indication of the level of maturity an organization has in handling their localization efforts and how they can effectively move up the maturity ladder.

Most organizations will have to rely on a qualified LSP (Language Service Provider) to help in that process as the translation process is usually not handled internally.

Our history with the Maturity Model concept

The LMM was introduced in 2006 as an adaptation of the exiting Capability Maturity Model that was modeled after the software industry. The LSP world took notice of this evolution, but at the time it was more of a concept than a comprehensive approach towards localization maturity.

An example of an objective and metrics
In 2007, we took the challenge to create our own structure around the Maturity Model concept. Our eyes were on creating a Maturity Model for our clients (the buyer) along with objectives, metrics and leading KPI's to help our clients grow and mature as they move up the Maturity Ladder. As our clients' translation needs grew , we witnessed greater risk to overspend due to process inefficiencies on the buyer's side and we wanted to mitigate that risk.
Our organization spent over 400 man-hours since 2007 developing this model. We took into account industry standards, industry research and our own experience in managing translation projects for clients at various stages of the maturity model to come up with a comprehensive process management system for our clients. It has helped us greatly in understanding how we can contribute to our client's processes.

Example of our scorecard
In 2008, we were quite ahead of the curve in having a comprehensive process management system for our clients in identifying gaps in their processes at their stage of maturation (based on the buyer's growth and risk/reward analysis) on the Maturity Model that we coined the Global Communications Maturity Model (GCMM).  The model became a great tool for us to communicate with the client on individual goals.

We developed an assessment tool, the Global Communication Readiness Audit, based on 4 dimensions. Strategic Readiness,  Organizational Readiness, Content Readiness and Design Readiness. This provided buyers with a scorecard of where they could find themselves on the GCMM and clear objectives and metrics to find improvements

A new platform for a strategic Buyer/Vendor relationship

Balanced Scorecard with actual client
In 2009, we took the model a step further by creating an outcomes based Balanced Scorecard approach for our clients. We had a good model to identify gaps in the process, but we needed a platform of collaboration in order to commit to the process improvement process that aligned with the objectives of our client, the buyer. The Balanced Scorecard approach was highlighted in the HBR as a method to move a client/vendor relationship (strategic or non-strategic) to a collaborative strategic partnership with objectives and outcomes and provisions for responsibility and accountability on both sides. Our model already address the objectives, outcomes and responsibilities, but the Balanced Scorecard approach became a framework to the benefit of our clients.

Now, our GCMM in combination with our Balanced Scorecard approach is the unique process that we bring to the table as an LSP. When a buyer is seeking a more comprehensive approach to managing their localization process, our approach provides a committed relationship that looks at their corporate objectives and we tie those in with our objectives and metrics that we have in place to move them up the maturity model.

We'll post more about the Maturity Model in subsequent blog posts that addresses the pitfalls of implementing a Maturity Model and advice on how buyers and LSPs can collaborate to mitigate risk, manage expectations and strive for continuous improvement.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are you diluting your brand?

Your multilingual communications are a valuable element of your brand assets, not a commodity. With translating and transcreating an organization's marketing publications, we consider brand equity.

How is the brand affected by translation? Does the organization’s brand risk dilution at any point in the process? Do you maintain a consistent brand while respecting cultural nuances? Is there a strategy for global brand consistency?

Transcreation is growing in our industry. It's a more creative translation.  However, we believe all translation is creative because it's not a literal process but more of a concept to concept process.  But transcreators do focus on capturing the emotion of the original.  It's important for your transcreators to know as much about your target market and what emotion you want to evoke - the same strategy you shared with your English writing team.

A more literal translation of your marketing materials can dilute your brand.  Be sure to get feedback from your language provider on what works and what doesn't work in translation, what is considered copywriting, what elements need to be localized.

We specialize in marketing communications.  Give us a call about taking your brand into other countries or languages.