//Establishing a Common Language as Part of Localization Planning

It is essential to establish a common language between all stakeholders in the localization process to avoid any confusion about the definition, needed input, time, effort, cost, and expected output of each specific task or process. Different stakeholders may have different understandings of what one task in the process means, and hence each one builds their expectations of the final output from this task or whole process.

When a request for proofreading is made and a client (who does not speak the target language) is expecting to receive a ready-to-use final version, this client will be very surprised when they receive an annotated PDF file or a quality evaluation sheet including a list of errors and suggested changes or a sheet with the number of errors and quality percentage index.

If one party is considering the proofreading job as editing and re-purposing the target document for fluency and better composition, while the other party is considering the job to be a full review of the target against the source document and checking for all types of errors, then there is a disconnect.

What happens when one client is expecting they are being quoted for TEP (Translation, Editing, and Proofreading), a job performed by at least two different linguists while the supplier is quoting a one-step localization job performed by one linguist? Then there is a disconnect and possible disruption of their relationship.

Many examples can be listed regarding misunderstandings about units of measure, quality standards, human vs. machine translation, pricing, throughputs, sampling, segmentation, communication, and scope. Establishing common language and communication channels between all localization process stakeholders needs to be an integral part of any localization plan and especially when a new relationship is being developed between supply and demand.

A common language should be established through different documents and communications between stakeholders to include the following:

  • Defined communication channels
  • Common terminology, including acronyms and abbreviations
  • Tasks’ standard naming conventions
  • Quality levels and standards
  • Quality management process
  • Agreed upon task descriptions
  • Known inputs and outputs for each task
  • Estimated human effort and throughput for each task
  • Technology and formats used
  • Unified units of measurement for each task
  • Procedure, process, and instruction document names and locations
  • Knowing pricing structures
  • Points of contact and roles of all parties
  • Deliverable naming and delivery media
  • Translation memory matching categories
  • Translation and terminology approval levels and process
  • Product descriptions and reference materials
  • Different language considerations
  • Communication through different time zones

Localization planning is an ongoing mutual learning experience and needs to start with setting rules, standards, expectations, and ensuring all parties are on the same page. Spending time and effort establishing a common language may be considered an investment, but the cost of this investment can be easily justified through the expected returns.
Returns of establishing a common language are vast, including, but not limited to:

  • Shorter time
  • Less cost
  • Streamlined processes
  • Fewer conflicts
  • Less re-work
  • Met deadlines
  • Mutual trust
  • Less risk
  • Better quality the first time

It is highly advisable to establish a common language once and forever, then keep updating it to suit different products’ localization efforts, new languages, and technological changes.