How long will my first localization project take?

If you’re new to localization, you may be wondering: how long will my first localization project take? Even if you’ve been translating your content for a while, you may be curious why your first project took longer than those that followed. Let us explain.

When you’re first engaging a professional language services provider, it’s helpful to think of your first project as the foundational steps in a budding relationship. For the relationship to be successful in the long term, it must have a solid footing.

If you’ve envisioned a process that simply involves sending a file to a group of translators, and immediately receiving a translated version in return—think again. While such a process may sound desirable on its face, the reality is that such an elementary model would, in most cases, be a recipe for disaster.

1. Understand the context

A number of steps must be taken in order to set your first project up for success—and to create similar success for subsequent projects.

First, your contact at the language service provider—whether they are an Account Manager or a Project Manager—needs to fully understand the intricacies of your project.

Your contact will inevitably have questions about your project’s context—from your company’s industry and background, to your localization history, international structure, linguistic stakeholders in your organization, and the like. Think of this phase as the metaphorical dating stage in your relationship.

Then, your contact must zero in on the project environment to determine where your content resides, as well as the proper workflow, and any terminology that has been established. They will also identify any variety in content type that may warrant different treatment (legal, marketing, mobile app, support pages, etc.)

In order to accurately address their questions, you may need to request help from folks across your organization—from the marketing team to product management, and even international offices—to gather the necessary materials and information.

During this process, your contacts will work to identify the best possible translation teams to assist with your project. They’re working on solutions to help you cut back on costs by automating certain tasks, while maintaining the best possible level of quality across the board.

This process could take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks—depending on the size, level of organization, and complexity of your content, as well as your company structure.

2. Prepare the project

Once this first phase is complete, your contacts will start asking more precise questions about the first project itself. Providing all proper files and adequate background information will enable them to prepare the best possible quote.

Once the quote is accepted, it may take your provider some time to assemble an appropriate linguistic team. If your company specializes in blockchain technologies, for example, only certain specialized translators will be considered (as these translators must sufficiently understand the content in order to adapt it to your target market). Industry expertise, translation quality, and staff availability are all important factors that go into assembling a successful team.

If we’ve identified that your company lacks multilingual Glossaries and Style Guides—assets we strongly recommend having prior to working on the initial translations—your language service contacts will work with you to develop these assets before initiating the translation process.

This task requires several days—particularly given the necessary feedback exchange between Project Managers and your team (which may include your global marketing department) in order to finalize these guides in the best possible format.

3. Launch the project

Once the style guide and glossary are ready, and qualified linguists booked, it’s time to start the project. Linguists are provided with reference materials (such as your website and any other reference documentation) in order to acquaint themselves with the account and its terminology. This is a key step that contributes to the longer timeframe of your first project, as considerable research and reading is required on the linguists’ part.

Linguists don’t want to rush the process of understanding your account. This is a crucial step that enables them to translate to the absolute best of their knowledge and ability. It’s a learning curve: as they translate more and more content, they’ll be able to do so at a progressively faster pace.

During the translation process, linguists may raise queries (requesting more context, perhaps) as the need arises. They may ask for clarification on a particular string—or a specific word within a particular string—in order to ensure translations are fully accurate.

Ideally, you’ll be able to address these queries immediately. But in some situations, you may not know the answer off-hand. This may cause queries to remain pending after translations are complete.

Before delivering the final translations, Project Managers ensure all queries have been addressed and implemented into the existing translations. This query management process—which greatly enhances overall translation quality—may add a couple of days to project finalization.

So, in order to be executed with professional quality, your first project may require a few weeks.

4. Repeat

But don’t worry, it gets better from here: the building blocks of your translation provider partnership are now firmly in place. This means that, going forward, you will experience significantly fewer delays. Both the project management team and your own team now understand how to implement a more streamlined workflow. The result will be quicker turnaround times.

For ongoing needs (daily, weekly, etc.), you will soon be able to implement a Continuous Translation mode. This allows new content translation to be launched automatically, and ready for pick-up in 1-2 business days—all year long.

More information on Continuous Translation.