Localization Manager

Localization managers – who can help me with my localization project?

It’s a profession that’s growing on an almost daily basis – and for good reason: localization managers help ensure seamless multilingual communication at every level. We give you an insight into what they do and help you decide whether you need one, too.

Translation and localization are key to a successful global business strategy. The challenges that await you on the global stage are many and varied – and they won’t resolve themselves. Localization processes need to be established and implemented, and this requires language expertise, knowledge of local customs and conventions, technical expertise and legal competence. To avoid the potential pitfalls of global expansion, more and more companies are choosing to hand things over to the professionals by hiring a localization manager.

What exactly is a localization manager?

As the name suggests, management is their game: they manage translators, agencies, budgets, processes – and a whole lot of expectations relating to the relevant localization project. The list of people that might be involved in a project is long. To start with, there are the various different stakeholders that need their content localized and have initiated the collaboration – these can include marketing departments, product managers, business development specialists and sales teams. At the same time, it’s not just translation service providers and other agencies that are working on the project itself; there may also be product testers, finance departments and technical partners like UX designers and software developers involved.

Localization managers act as a single point of contact for all these different parties and coordinate the various stakeholders involved. Their end goal is to prepare a product and its content for the international market. Because at the end of the day, it’s localized content that will help ensure turnover, customer loyalty and trust. You may also hear terms like “localization program manager”, “quality manager” or, where additional technical management is required, “localization engineer” used in the localization industry. All these roles consciously interlink and overlap, as they have the same overall objective.

Organizational whizzes at work in the background

Localization managers take the strategy devised by product management or marketing departments and transform it into a functioning workflow. This involves setting delivery deadlines, sourcing suppliers, briefing them on the market and the company’s vision, and creating glossaries and guidelines. They oversee every aspect of the project, ensure smooth processes, and coordinate and motivate everyone involved. They are also often in charge of quality management. There are numerous different elements to the job, and it requires analytical, organizational and communication skills in equal measure.

In short, localization managers are specialized project managers who assemble all the pieces of the puzzle in the background. It’s a highly qualified role that calls for an intimate knowledge of the language industry, and localization managers often have a degree in translation or translation management – like the one from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. Paired with many years of project experience, this makes them increasingly sought-after in the language industry.

Why you need a localization manager

When you’re dealing with multiple languages and markets, getting a localization manager on board can make life a lot easier. The role is particularly valuable if you are in regular need of translation services, and if you’re having to grapple with different systems and tools. Smaller companies with lower demand might prefer direct collaboration with freelancers or an agency over a professionalized localization process – but for larger-scale operations, localization management offers huge operational advantages. In both cases, a centralized platform makes collaboration easier and workflows simpler.

The more markets your company wants to conquer, and the more complex the range of tools involved, the more important it is to have someone who oversees the entire process. The benefits are clear: expertise on demand, good project planning and adherence to budgets. All the different players involved are kept up to date and know where to turn if they have questions. What’s more, localization managers gain more experience with clients and suppliers with every project they do, which means they can optimize results on an ongoing basis. This all makes long-term collaboration with a localization expert highly attractive.

Centralized or de-centralized localization management?

There are two basic approaches to the localization process:

1. The localization manager oversees the different language versions from one central location and maintains a continual overview of the various activities and languages.

2. Each individual location manages and is responsible for its own activities.

Which approach to take will depend on how you want future business decisions to be made, budgets to be allocated and teams to be structured. A centralized management model means a shared infrastructure, more control and more financial options. A decentralized approach, on the other hand, enables solutions that are as closely tailored to the target audience as possible. The two methods frequently go hand in hand: there is often a central vision or guideline that applies across the company, such as a defined translation workflow. Local partners base their approach on this, while adapting their solutions to the specific needs of their target audience.

Looking for support with your localization project? We’re here to help.

Cover image via iStock

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