Tips for Small Budget Software Localization, part 5: Don’t Try to Save Too Much

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This is the fifth part of our small budget software localization tips. In the previous parts we have dealt about planning, prioritizing, skipping unnecessary costs and doing things by oneself.

Quality is important in software localization. In fact it should always be the most important criterion in every localization project. Even if you have a small budget and limited resources, you need to pay attention to the quality of the outcome. Localization should never be performed just for its sake. The rationale behind software localization is to enter new markets, to make more money, to strengthen one’s market position, to be more profitable and/or to get more attention in global markets. Poorly localized software won’t reach any of these targets.

The main difficulty is to define good quality. Is the fact that one can understand the software in his own language an indicator of a good quality? Or should the localized software look and feel like it is the original version and not a translated one? Or is good quality something more or less? Every localization project team should have a mutual idea of the quality.

Maybe it is better to talk about good enough quality or about target quality level. The quality is good enough when it reaches the quality criteria which are set for it by the team or some other authority. In other words, quality is something you should care about even in a small budget localization project. The methods to ensure a good enough quality are testing, proofreading and checking. There should always be people to check everything.

Good enough quality is also cheaper to achieve when there is less need for changes. This means that all the things should be made as well as possible in the first place. Unfortunately quality is very difficult to see beforehand. When there’s no other indicator available, people are likely to rely on hard facts like price. But it’s not always the whole truth like this cartoon shows.

When you are trying to do more with less, there is a change that you end up in saving on everything. However there are certain elements, like proofreading and testing, which deserve more attention than maybe some other elements do. Quality costs always something, so stay realistic and don’t try to save too much.

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Tips for Small Budget Software Localization, part 4: Learn to Do It Yourself

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This is the fourth part of our series of small budget software localization tips. Previously we have discussed about planning, prioritizing and skipping unnecessary costs.

Small budget and tight schedule are like water and oil. They don’t combine very well. In a software localization project time can somewhat compensate the limited monetary resources. The key is to be active and hard-working. If you cannot hire other people to do things for you, maybe you can sacrifice your own time and learn to do it yourself.

Let’s take an example: There is a software company which is going to launch its latest video game to a new language area. Previously, they have outsourced their localization projects to a localization service provider. This time they have a smaller budget and cannot afford the same localization service provider – or they don’t want to put their entire tiny budget into one basket. Because they have technical understanding in the team, they decide to localize the software internally with a localization tool. They buy the product and assume the job will be done quickly. Very soon they realize that they have to move the due dates. The localization tool is new and it takes some time to learn how to work fluently with it. But the best part is that in the upcoming projects they don’t have to do the learning phase anymore; they have the tool and the knowhow.

The wise of doing things oneself sounds easier than it is because we people tend to be lazy. The first step is always difficult but often it’s worth taking. It is true that it takes some time to learn anything new, but after that the skill is there ready for your next projects. When having a small budget, the only thing you absolutely need is some imagination and a lot of effort which don’t cost you anything. The easiest way is rarely the cheapest one!

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Tips for Small Budget Software Localization, part 3: Skip (Unnecessary) Middlemen

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This is the third part of our small budget software localization tips. In the first two parts we talked about planning and prioritizing.

The more there are people eating the same cake the less everyone gets, right? This is true with all limited resources, and money is indeed a limited resource – at least for the majority of us. Thus the first thing that one can do to increase one’s share is to invite less people to the table.

In a localization project, the most productive people are the ones whose work actually profits the project most. Consider cutting the less productive parts off. It can be that you find out that the language service provider takes a too big share of your budget in relation to the value they create. Thus you could try to hire translators instead of translation agencies, for example. And if you don’t have translators among your personal contacts, you can google or use online platforms, like eLance, to find good translators.

Likewise, if you have used a localization service provider in your previous software localization projects and if you are not really convinced on their ability to create enough value to your project, you should consider the option of skipping also this middleman and doing yourself as much as possible. This is an especially good idea if you have some technical knowledge in your company. The need for special skills is even smaller when you use a suitable localization tool in your project. Some localization tools (ie. Multilizer Enterprise) can do some important technical things automatically, and some other tools (ie. .NET Localizer or PDF Translator) are designed to do all technical localization steps automatically.

We are not saying that all middlemen are useless. Again the situation determines whether there are unnecessary participants sharing your small budget. Don’t get rid of those people you can’t live without!

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Tips for Small Budget Software Localization, part 2: Prioritize Tasks

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This is the second part of our small budget software localization tips. In the first part we discussed about planning.

When the target is to do more with less, focus only on important tasks and leave minor things with less or no attention. For example translators usually charge for the amount of translated words. Then fewer words mean smaller cost. Before you decide to send only every other word to your translator, consider these aspects: avoid duplicates, write concise text, and prioritize the parts to be translated. It is not always crucial to translate and localize everything.

Even if one translates everything and pays for every word, the other parts of the localization process can still be optimized. For example nowadays mobile phone and other electronic equipment manufacturers put limited instructions into the boxes. They include only the most crucial information and the rest can be found only in the Internet. This way they decrease the printing costs. And by cutting some other costs, they can pay for the full translations.

Thinking the situation from the customer’s point of view is the key point here. You need to decide which kind of user experience you want to offer to your customers. Consider carefully what you do to those parts of your software localization project which are only supportive from the user’s perspective, like the user manual. Think for example the following questions: Is the user able to use the software without reading a manual? Can your customers understand a manual in English? Can the manual be shortened for other languages? What does the local law say about these things?

Likewise websites, brochures, ads etc. can follow different strategies in different languages. A small budget sets limits what in turn creates a need for some decisions and cuts. Start with the most important tasks and proceed with your priority list as much as you can.

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Tips for Small Budget Software Localization, part 1: Plan, Plan, Plan

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This is the first part of our new series of small budget software localization tips.

What is the most expensive part in every project? It’s the unexpected, additional work which needs to be done “like now”. It is more than common that these surprises are strongly related to poor and insufficient planning. Although no one can be completely sure how the upcoming localization project will proceed, an excellent knowledge of the project and its requirements will decrease the possibility of having unpleasant surprises.

A good plan helps you to see the big picture and allocate resources to the right things. When talking about software localization, control is a good thing. It brings a sophisticated touch to the project. A written plan is an excellent guide for every project participant. Whether everybody in the project has the essential knowledge or not has a huge effect on the amount of surprises. And like you probably know, any change in the schedule, in translators’ work, in the need for development skills etc. will cost you something.

So what are the elements of a good plan? Well, the more the better is a good slogan to start with. A plan doesn’t have to be a fancy document. It can be just a list of tasks with due dates, responsibilities and other relevant information. The main thing is to sit down and plan the project root and branch, and to find all the possible surprises beforehand.

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