In Adam Asnes’ article in the September 2010 issue of MultiLingual, he illustrated how business cases for US companies can drive their need to internationalize their software in order to sell to the Canadian Government, or to sell broadly in Quebec. I liked in his article how he mentioned that companies may adapt their software because of sales-driven reasons rather than part of a broad global marketing initiative, which have “different needs-drivers reflected in deadlines, resources and scope” than regular, consistent localization projects.
Adam goes on to describe very well, for both the techie and sales person alike (me for example), what needs to be completed to get the software localization-ready and how Lingoport rocks at helping companies with that process. Here at Milengo, we assist clients with their language support commonly after Lingoport has finished their work. And we too notice clients’ needs for Canadian Language support is different when it is deal-based, rather than as part of a broader sales plan, so I too will focus my ideas on that part. I wanted to use this blog to illustrate some examples of projects we’ve worked on to give readers ideas on what processes and technology are available and what is do-able, to help stretch your budget when sales lands a big new deal in Canada.
Let’s make the assumption that your company is doing very well and the software you produce is awesome. Sales are booming in North America. The Sales Director got a big contract with the Canadian Government. Big deal and big money. It’s signed after the champagne has been popped, you’re told that you have 3 months to deliver a Canadian French version, with documentation, since it’s required by law in Canada. And if it’s late, the company will have to pay a fine for every-day its late, eating into profits and good will. So after a big gulp of bubbly, the process begins.
Luckily, you know Lingoport already from Adam’s excellent articles in Multilingual. His company helps your developers in completing the i18n of the software so that it can be localized. He did it on-budget and before he promised, just because that’s how Lingoport rolls. Milestone 1 completed. Then you see you have about 10,000 strings for translation as well as help and user manuals, which require about 200,000 words for translation. Oy vey. The volume is too much for your staff in Canada to do it internally within this timeframe. What options can you consider?
Option 1: Have an LSP do the translation for you. Luckily, your sales team collaborated with you closely and the deal was priced to allow for high-quality human translations in Canada. You can create a glossary from the software translation, which forms a bed-rock for future updates. Consistency in your software, documentation and customer communication is recorded and used across all documents, lowering costs, increasing quality and enhancing the brand experience (a big topic that we’ll go into another time). Sounds good, right? With all those happy French-speaking Canadian customers, it may get you thinking that a more developed localization strategy might not be a bad idea after all?
Option 2: Your sales team did not collaborate with you, and the overall price of the package sold was too low. Your manager is balking at the double-digit figures for the cost of the documentation localization since the budget is not available and you have limited financial resources. Alternatively, perhaps its not a priority to have this done with high-quality human translations since this is a one-off deal. Options to consider include:
- One of Milengo’s customers had some 1.5 million words of help-desk and customer support information that needed to be translated in a month a half in order to outsource call-center operations. Do-able? Yes! Did they have a budget of ~ $500,000? No. To get around this we worked with our partner AsiaOnline to develop a customized, enterprise-level statistical machine translation engine that uses sophisticated algorithms to provide machine translation results. To make the translations publish-ready, human linguists reviewed the machine translation output to correct errors, fix stylistic problems, etc so that it looked and felt correct. The overall saving was over 50%.
- You want to leverage your in-house team of people in Canada, but need to make them more efficient. How about taking the glossary from your UI and use it as a basis within the Google Translator Toolkit? The Google engine will produce a translation for you using your glossary as a reference point, and afterwards, your in-house team can correct and fix the errors and improve style. Or you can have an LSP like Milengo do it for you. Depending on the nature of the content or corporate culture, if may not be appropriate, but it is an option that you can consider. Google is doing more and more of their own translations this way, and we’ve helped them with correcting the output of their translations using their own toolkit.
Option 3: You can do a mishmash of all 3 above. The UI is translated by your in-house staff (i.e “the humans”) since they are the experts. The documentation is translated by AsiaOnline’s customized statistical machine translation with human post-editing, and Google Translator Toolkit is used for internal communication in Canadian French <> English.
Option 4: While the above mentioned scenario is unlikely since you are internationalizing your software for the first time, if you did have a French translation, we could leverage that considerably. An adaptation from Continental French to Canadian can be done. While both languages are French, there are of course differences and copy-editors can go through and change terminology, style and make the local feel local, saving considerable time and budget.
There you have it. Of course each option, scenario and client requirement is more complicated and detailed than portrayed here, but hopefully it gets the juices flowing in terms of what can be done.
Post written by Adam Blau, Rebellion Leader at Milengo, a global language services provider.