Translation and localization are fundamental components of global business strategy; and the localization industry is growing each year, with no signs of slowing down.
When it comes to localization, there are different types of projects based on the specific needs of each client. Each of them will have its own workflow and scope, they will require specific tasks and, therefore, the project manager (PM) in charge needs to have the ability to address them properly.
In this blog, we will focus on the role of a project manager of document localization projects.
First, we’ll need to distinguish this kind of project from the others: document localization covers a variety of documents including manuals, white papers, promotional materials, brochures, user guides, etc.
So, the question is: What is the role of a Localization Project Manager for this type of project?
In general terms, they monitor the life cycle of every project. They initiate, execute, and deliver projects – overseeing the end-to-end localization workflow and ensuring a timely, cost-effective, and high-quality execution of it.
But let’s see this in-depth. I’ll explain the role of the PM in the different phases of the project life cycle.
Before the Project Starts
Clear Communication with the Client: Scope
Before starting any project, the first step is to determine project scope. This will require the project manager to have clear communication with the client to discuss the project requirements: type of project, size, language pairs, timeline, required CAT and Quality Control tool, deliverable format, and any additional requirements the client may have.
If it’s the first project that is being done with a client, the project manager should have a kick-off call with them. The PM will use this as an opportunity to introduce themselves and their team, walk them through the whole localization workflow and manage client expectations.
Having a close relationship with the client is crucial.
Ensuring Correct Quotation
The project manager will also be involved in the quote preparation stage.
They will make sure that all the necessary tasks are included and make a realistic projection of the time needed for each task, considering the client’s required delivery date.
Once the client’s requirements are clear, the project manager needs to ensure that the chosen workflow meets the client’s expectations. Based on the source file format, for example, the project manager will know if time for the recreation of the file is needed before starting the translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP) process. Based on the required delivery formats, they’ll know if Desktop Publishing is needed or not.
Each phase of the project should be clearly defined in this stage since anything left unclear can affect the project quality, timeline, and budget.
Search for the Most Accurate Resources
Once the workflow and the client-specific requirements are clear, the project manager will assign the necessary resources. To ensure they select the most accurate linguistic team, the PM needs to know the field of expertise required for the project and assign the best subject-matter expert (SME) who specializes in that subject.
The PM should always consider the teams’ metrics (how much they can translate or edit daily) especially if it’s a rush project – and confirm their rates are suitable for the project budget as well.
During The Project Lifetime
Hand Off to Production
Once the project manager has selected the teams that are going to participate in the project, they’ll proceed to send the project to production.
The PM will provide the linguistic team with all the necessary information for the project, including any reference materials, glossaries, style guides and translation memory (TM). It’s the PM’s responsibility to brief the linguistic team about the client and subject matter, and clearly define the scope, deadlines, and expected deliverable files.
Proactive Communication with Different Stakeholders
The project manager communicates with both internal and external teams to ensure effective cross-team collaboration throughout the project lifetime (follow-up, problem-solving with vendors, tools, and client updates). They, as well, assign the different tasks to the corresponding person to ensure the project follows the initial schedule.
Any localization project requires a high level of collaboration between cross-functional teams. Localization project managers are the link between different stakeholders. They ensure project schedules stay on time, within budget, and guarantee high-quality delivery.
Once all the steps in the workflow are completed, the PM will review to make sure that all the Quality Control (QC) processes have been followed correctly, that the Translation Memory (TM) has been updated accordingly, and last but not least, that the file format is the required one.
After confirming that everything is correct, the PM sends the final files to the client.
Post Project Evaluation
Project Managers need to ensure any client linguistic feedback/comments are taken into consideration. Receiving feedback from the client from time to time is normal and it helps the linguistic team learn the client’s preferences. However, it’s the PM’s responsibility to make sure the quality of the final product is not compromised. A common way for PM’s to tackle this situation is by setting up a call between the client’s reviewers and linguistics teams to discuss any linguistic-related topic.
Team Performance Evaluation
A common and useful practice for project managers is to qualify the performance of the teams involved in the project. PM’s should discuss and tackle any problem that may have occurred during the project lifetime, which could be during daily team meetings, weekly progress conversations, or monthly reviews.
One of the most important abilities a project manager must have is to recognize potential problems before they occur. In addition to post-project evaluations, having checkpoints during a project lifecycle will greatly help detect and avoid potential risks before project delivery.
Localization projects are sometimes complex, and they require exceptional levels of versatility and agility from a project manager. It’s important that a PM gets involved in all stages, examines all aspects of the project, and deeply understands each of the steps involved.
Localization Project Management is a highly challenging and rewarding career path that is continually expanding as businesses continue to go worldwide.
At GPI, we have dedicated and detail-oriented project managers that ensure great-quality localization based on the clients’ needs. They define tailor-made workflows for each project and provide clients dedicated access to GPI’s proprietary Translation Portal for a better experience.