Strategies for efficient in-country review
In this article we discuss in-country review from a translation buyer’s perspective. Another article on this topic from an LSP’s perspective will follow in the near future.
Here is your worst-case scenario: You’ve just received the deliverables of your latest localization project from your local subsidiary and found they entered an endless amount of corrections and changes in the localized content. After recovering from the shock and discomfort for the extra work (and budget) awaiting you, you begin to wonder: What went wrong and when?
In-country review: Is it necessary?
Before we answer this question, we need to ask ourselves another question: Do we really need in-country review? After all, implementing an in-country review step means making your TEP workflow a little longer. And, in a case like the one mentioned above, more expensive.
As a matter of fact, in-country review is usually A) something that your organization requests from your regional offices or B) something that regional offices expect. Let’s analyze both cases.
Case A: Your company requests in-country review because it is aware that marketing strategies vary from country to country. The message that needs to be conveyed and your general branding strategy for the US will be different from the message and the branding strategy meant for, let’s say, the Western European, the Asian or the Middle Eastern markets. So, once your product is localized, the in-country review by one of the local marketing managers or subject matter experts is a necessary step to dot the i’s and cross the t’s of your regional content marketing plan.
There are also instances when a company splits large-volume localization projects among two or more multilingual language vendors (MLVs). In turn, the chosen MLVs could use sub-vendors and so on, until the content to be localized finally reaches the linguists. In this case, it might prove difficult to put the translation vendors who actually do the work in contact with your local subsidiaries and have them exchange information on house style and other localization and marketing aspects, even despite any style guide they may receive.
The in-country review in this case is a necessary extra step to make sure that the localized text is aligned with the different national/regional marketing policies.
In this scenario, the central organization asks the local subsidiaries to evaluate and contribute to a project that is already completed and for which the subsidiaries have not been consulted. The central organization may not be aware of all the details of the local marketing and branding policy, which, therefore, have not been communicated to the local localization teams. The result is that the deliverable received does not meet the quality expectations of your local subsidiaries.
Case B: A local subsidiary of your company is in charge of the localization project, including the in-country review step, for a whole region. The final result will be sent to the central organization for a final check (although, this doesn’t always apply).
In this scenario, problems may arise for the subsidiary not meeting the requirements and not respecting the guidelines from the headquarters.
What’s the common thread in all this? Often the in-country review is not entrusted to linguists or expert translators who are provided with the same lockit as the vendors; rather, it is performed by local subject matter experts or marketing department employees. A linguist/translator would look at the written content based on grammar, terminology, style and so on, but without the product or local market knowledge of a subject-matter expert or a marketing manager. On the other hand, SMEs and marketing managers might completely ignore other aspects such as the localization requirements or the house style.
Five suggestions for efficient in-country review
- Ensure that the communication line between all parties involved is as short as possible. If it is necessary to involve more localization vendors (because the project is very large or very expensive, because you need to amortize costs and so on), the central organisation or the subsidiary in charge of the localization project must be responsible for the localization kit, in its totality or for the relevant integrations.
- Alternatively, the localization project could be managed through a single vendor that will entrust the localization to multiple local vendors without acting as a prime contract, but rather as consultant. It will therefore be important for local vendors to be able to communicate with the various local subsidiaries.
- Make sure there is a localization kit available, containing all the files to be translated, reference images, reference multimedia material, information on the tools/platform to be used, translation memories and glossaries, feedback and query forms. Most importantly, for in-country review, the localization kit should also include all the information about your marketing and branding policy. It must contain a list of the various contact points and operating instructions for any problems that might arise. For example, in the case of the worldwide launch of a new vehicle, it will be necessary to ask the various local representatives to verify that the original design of the project is suitable for the country of reference. This information should be included in the localization kit.
- Create a friendly competition between your localization vendors. Every localization agency should be encouraged to do its best. Make sure that the localization vendors send comments and feedback forms in a timely manner. One of the known problems with localization is that feedback forms or query sheets filled in by linguists or project managers end up forgotten in a corner of the translation management system. The feedback form or query sheets should be sent to the in-country reviewers as soon as possible. A centralized platform could help, especially when made accessible to all stakeholders, although with different privileges.
- Last but not least: make sure that the localization project is not made of watertight compartments, but more of communicating vessels. Make sure that the project director, all project managers and all language leads can follow the project step by step in their wholeness, not just for their portion.
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