Key Strategies for Managing a Localization Team in 2024

Table of Contents

1. Go Upstream

Align your actions with the business’s priorities, vision, and mission, as well as with your stakeholders’ roadmaps.

  • Engage with Stakeholders: Encouraged building relationships and engaging with stakeholders, particularly by participating in key planning sessions like roadmap reviews with product managers and development architecture planning.
  • Stay on top: Maintain awareness of the tools, processes, and any changes within your stakeholders’ environments. This approach ensures that localization efforts are proactively integrated.
Pro Tip:

Discover what tools your stakeholders use for collaboration, issue tracking, planning, and delivering software. Understand how localization tools can plug into those and augment the software development lifecycle with internationalization checks and localization quality.

- Oleks Pysaryuk
Senior Manager, Globalization technology at GitLab
  • Obtain a Seat at the Table: Get a seat at the table for decision-making processes, even if sometimes you don’t get that seat, you should still aim to influence decisions from an upstream position.
  • Resource Sharing: Demonstrate the value of localization by sharing resources and tools that could benefit other departments. This will help you to foster a sense of collaboration and mutual support.

2. Set Clear Goals 

Set clear goals and objectives for the localization department and individual team members. Align them with the broader corporate strategy to demonstrate the value of localization investments. This strategic approach fosters team development and contributes to the overall success of the localization department.

  • Develop Annual Goals: Work as a team to establish a set of annual goals and objectives for the localization department.
  • Break Down into SMART Goals: Divide these annual goals into specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for each team member.
  • Align with Corporate Strategy: Ensure that the team’s goals directly align with the broader corporate strategy to demonstrate the value of localization investments.
  • Encourage Individual Development: Listen to team members, understand their passions, and assign them goals they are genuinely interested in to foster their professional growth and motivation.
Pro tip: 

Traditional localization counts metrics that aren't meaningful to others, so it's crucial to be curious and discover what metrics other teams are using.

Finance: Build relationships with the finance teams who report on profit and loss monthly or quarterly. Access this data and break it down beyond just 'rest of the world' or 'EMEA' to gain deeper insights. This approach helps in understanding the financial impact of localization efforts.

Marketing: Understand what metrics the marketing teams measure, such as SEO performance or website traffic by country. Collaborate with them to see if these metrics can be adapted or broken down by region to highlight the international impact of your work. 

Engineering: Investigate whether engineering has tools in place to monitor user behaviors, such as language selection by users. Leverage this data to inform your localization strategies and measure success.

- Paula Hunter
Globalization consultant (ex-Motorola, Video Security Unit)

3. Foster Relationships and Communication 

Establishing strong relationships with different department leads, such as development teams, to ensure they understand the value of including localization early in their plans.

  • Highlight Localization’s Value: Showcase how localization efforts contribute to the global success and reach of the product, thereby highlighting the value of the localization team’s work.

A lot of the developers I’ve worked with like to be creative; they love to problem solve. So if you present them with a problem and ask them to help you solve this, my experience has been they get excited about it, especially if you can be sharing examples of customer stories. Like, look we have these customers in Dubai who are using the software that you work so hard to internationalize, and really show them the fruits of their labor, and make those connections. Show how the work they’re doing is benefiting our customers in other countries.

– Paula Hunter
Globalization consultant (ex-Motorola, Video Security Unit)

  • Communicate and Collaborate: Continuously communicate and collaborate with other departments to bridge the gap between localization and development. Make the localization team an integral part of the organizational workflow.

Communicate, Over communicate!
  • Overcome Cultural Resistance: Address and overcome potential cultural resistance within development teams by using language and examples that resonate with them and by highlighting the tangible benefits of localization.

Use the tricks, use the language. Sometimes I said caching instead of translation memory and it made sense to engineers so these little tactics of communicating help.

Oleks Pysaryuk
Senior Manager, Globalization technology at GitLab

4. Encourage Constant Learning 

Encourage the localization team to think beyond day-to-day tasks and engage with broader industry trends and educational resources. Build an environment where team members share insights and learnings from their continuous learning activities

To proactively implement this process, use the following tips:

  • Establish dedicated channels, such as a Slack, Microsoft Teams space, or an internal forum, specifically for sharing knowledge and insights. Encourage team members to post articles, tools, tips, and questions regularly.
  • Implement regular sessions dedicated to knowledge sharing. These can be informal ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions or more structured presentations where team members present on the insights  from the webinars or conferences they attended, new tools they found and techniques they learned.
  • Create a knowledge repository where employees can easily access shared knowledge, such as recorded sessions, articles, best practices, and learning resources. This can be part of your company’s intranet or a dedicated platform (like Notion).

The way we adapt to change is going to differ greatly, and there’s this one skill that’s becoming super important for everyone in the localization industry – that’s the eagerness to learn. So with everything shifting so quickly, clinging to old ways just won’t cut it. We need to be open to learning, ready to unlearn the outdated stuff we picked up in school, and agile enough to embrace new approaches.
One of the most worrying things is to hear someone say, “This is how we do it, it’s always been done this way.” That kind of thinking just doesn’t work anymore.

Webinar “Localization Trends and Predictions for 2024”
Renato Beninatto, Chairman & Co-founder at Nimdzi

P.S. This article is largely based on the webinar “Software Localization Strategies for 2024”

Author

Kate Vostokova
Kate Vostokova
Kate is a seasoned B2B content marketing manager with a five-year journey in the localization industry. She is passionate about crafting various types of content to educate people about internationalization (i18n), localization, and the latest technological advances, including Large Language Models (LLMs).
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