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Translation Project Management: Asking the Right Questions

Localization project managers have a clear understanding of the tasks and requirements of translation projects. However, clients, especially those new to localization, may not fully understand what information they need to provide and which questions they need to answer before a project begins. To avoid making assumptions, which can lead to miscommunications with your clients, I have put together some basic questions localization project managers should ask before beginning a translation project. This list of questions will also help clients know what information is important to provide to their translation agency.

Translation Project Management

This blog will focus on the general questions you will want to ask for any type of translation request. But, there are also questions specific to the types of content you are translating: website, document, software, etc., which I will cover in future blogs. This is also not a complete list, rather a starting point. You may have many more questions depending on the project requirements.

Below is a list of questions you should ask before sending your project kick-off email:

What are the source and target languages?

It is important to be clear about this before starting the project to be sure you have the appropriate resources available.

Where is your target audience located?

This is required so you can be sure you are translating into the correct dialect. For example, are you targeting Spanish speakers in Spain or Latin America? Is your French website aimed at French speakers in France or Canada? Identifying your target audiences will ensure you are creating culturally appropriate content and your message is being effectively received.

Do you have onsite reviewers we should meet with before the project starts?

If these reviewers will play a significant role in any phase of the project, it’s best to communicate with them from the start about expectations and roles.

Do you have any style guides or translation memories from similar localization projects?

Style guides and translation memories will help translators create content that is consistent with a client’s messaging, tone and style.

In which type of file format would you like to receive the final translated content?

As an example: if a client needs the translated content for a document project in exactly the same format of the source document, like a PDF, they should provide editable files so the translation teams can work in the document and send the translated PDF back to the client.


The questions mentioned in this blog are just the starting point for what you should ask clients. You can use your professional experience managing multilingual projects to build on this list and ask questions more specific to the client, languages, locales and project type. In my upcoming blogs I will cover the questions to ask for document, website and software translation projects.