Characteristics of an Unsuccessful Localization Project

A localization project can tide a lot of resources. Thus it is reasonable to be able to recognise when things are going wrong and those resources are just being wasted. Here are some characteristics of a non-optimal software localization project. These characteristics are taken from a localization project manager’s point of view. If anything of the following scenarios happens in your localization project, there is a good chance that you could improve the project a lot.

1. Full-time programmers are needed in the localization project

The problem here is that requiring programmers not only increases to total work load but also increases interruptions in translator’s work. There are many things the software developer can do to ease the actual localization process. This may take more time in the development stage but the time will be saved in the localization stage. The rationale here is that it is cheaper to build the software in a localization friendly way once than it is to modify the software every time it is localized to a new language. So we strongly recommend to write such software that the localization will not require any (or only a little) work from programmers.

2. Translation outsourcing requires much work

The size of a software localization project may be almost anything. There might be only a hand full of words for a single translator or there can be very large files for several translators. Sending texts-to-be-translated to your outsourced translators must be easy no matter the size of the project. If this step takes much work, it will take even more work when you increase the number of languages. The more complicated something is, the longer it will take or the more there will be mistakes. Both slowdowns and mistakes cost.

3. Sending files back and forth

Obsiously something has gone badly wrong if the same work has to be done several times. If you end up sending files back and forth between your translator, you can be sure that the project is not going optimally.

4. You have to send many kinds of files to your translators

Translators are experts in translating, not in handling or understanding many kinds of files. You have to ensure that the translator can focus on what he does best, i.e. translating. Many software localization tools collect texts-to-be-translated from several, different file formats and present them to the translator in a uniform, simple way.

5. User interface requires editing after translation

Editing user interface after translation is a problem because it slows down the project and it requires expensive work effort. You cannot assume that translators would be able to edit the user interface. Therefore a specialized person (such as a programmer) is required which further complicates the localization process.

6. There are images which contain text included in the software

Although the text in the image might be easy to translate, an image handling program is required to edit the image accordingly. The translator may not have this kind of tool. Again editing an image will require extra work and time from someone who charge for the effort. Avoid this by not embedding any piece of text to the images in you software.

The above problems are easy to prevent with effecient software localization tools and proper project management. Please also read our instructions for ensuring easy software localization.

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Published by

Multilizer / Niko Papula

I am managing director of Multilizer, a Finnish software company specialising in software for enhancing translation quality, speed and cost.