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.