Project management translation SDL

Local Project Management – Why It Matters More Than Ever

With more automation, technology and artificial intelligence (AI) being introduced into the localization process, companies must no doubt be asking themselves how important it is to have local tailored project management support. More and more localization agencies are offshoring project management to bring costs down for customers and to standardize processes, but can this one-size-fits-all, automated approach really work?

Project managers (PM) sit at the very heart of your localization project and processes. Sadly, this isn’t always recognized and over time the value of good project management has been lost. However having a local project manager that you can build rapport with will significantly improve your localization journey.

How? Project management is not just about pushing files from one place to another…  The industry has moved to a point now where technology can do this quite easily, and much faster than any human. A good project management service should be delivering much more than this to your organization. Let’s take a look at some of the main areas where localized support can far outstrip the benefits of the automated, offshore approach:

  • PMs should be an extension of your team: this cannot be achieved easily by an offshore team – teams are built by getting to know each other and having face time, this investment will enable the project manager to get a deeper understanding of your business, your business goals and subsequent challenges – they will then lean on their past experiences to work through these challenges with you. This may be in the form of advising what technology to use to improve the process, or what translation method to use to get the right quality level at the right price for the right content. As Jeroen Boots, who looks after technical communication and translations at Planon Software, explains, “As a customer, I don’t have to explain specifics each time, this knowledge is already present with the dedicated project manager. It is nicer to have a fixed person to deal with, it feels like this is someone who you cooperate with. You build up a mutual understanding of processes on both sides.”
  • PMs have the experience you don’t have: project managers bring a lot of experience to the table. They have been exposed to and have overcome many challenges for many other organizations. Having a close relationship with your project manager will enable you to leverage this experience and gain trust in their knowledge and recommendations on how to optimize your current process.
  • PMs understand the end-to-end process: a good project manager will look at your content cycle from end-to-end – coordinating with internal departments to proactively assess your content and put forward continuous improvement recommendations. As technology and AI continue to develop you need to ensure you have a human touch to validate the approach, ensuring it is right for you, your target audience and the content itself. Having the right subject matter experts to support you will prove invaluable in the long run.
  • PMs bring consultative expertise: many organizations pay a lot to gain guidance and advice on content best practices – this can be delivered by a good project management team. A good project manager is able to identify issues and subsequently work with the relevant internal teams to find the route cause – often this is not even to do with the translation element and starts earlier on in the content’s journey. The only way you can receive a consultative approach is by getting to know your team and by them getting to know you, your processes and solutions, your business goals and objectives along with current ways of working and future goals and milestones.
  • PMs can help gain insights from your data: with all the vast technology solutions we have now and the amount of data that is available, it’s important to be equipped to understand and interpret that data. Otherwise it becomes meaningless. Your local project manager should be working with you to gain insights from the data and proactively support in interpreting this data so you can make informed business decisions. The only way this happens is if the project manager and the supplier are invested in your business and in helping your organization meet your company objectives.

When asked about project management and the advantages of having dedicated local support, Alistair Brumage, Manager, European Retail Environment and Publications at Honda, explains, "Advances in Technology have many benefits in the commercial world, particularly in relation to the speed and scope of communications. However, in global organizations, vital pier to pier interaction is often limited to small time windows at the beginning or end of the working day. The reality of differing time zones can be mitigated by the use of Skype and video conferences, but productivity and efficiency will always be compromised if participants are operating late at night, or early in the morning. Successful organisations recognize that promoting a good work life balance is key to staff retention and well-being, as well as having a positive impact on an individual’s performance. Local project management is critical for two main reasons. Firstly it promotes a stronger client/supplier relationship as rapport and understanding are built quicker with face to face meetings. Secondly, operating in the same time zone brings greater efficiency as requests can be actioned in ‘real time’ as opposed to delayed to the next working day.”

Of course, there are some instances where projects and requirements are straight forward and dedicated local project management support is not necessarily required, however a good localization partner will be honest about this and put the relevant recommendations forward to offer a low touch and cost effective approach to project management. Fit for purpose project management is just as important as fit for purpose translation – we need to ensure there is still a choice. Offshoring all project management capabilities restricts this approach and we are at risk of providing a one-size-fits-all service, which in reality, when applied, is at risk of not fitting anyone.