Every company has a different structure and strategy for their localization program, and one of the most important parts of it is the supply chain. Whether companies are employing a single- or multi-supplier approach, the search for an effective process remains the same.
Since the common goal for all localization programs is to maintain and even enhance a brand’s image and personality in their global markets, climbing up the content-maturity ladder in a cost-efficient manner so that their content can become a difference-maker is the main focus.
Centralization of language assets to protect brand image
According to Gartner, “vendor-neutral describes a state in which no one [supplier] can control the definition, revision or distribution of a specification. Vendor-neutral specifications encourage the development of competing yet compatible implementations, freeing the purchaser to choose from a multitude of vendors without suffering a loss of functionality.” In this case, functionality can relate to anything from undisrupted workflow to consistency in brand terminology, tone and voice.
To guarantee brand consistency, companies put a lot of effort into ensuring the correct use of their terminology. A multi-supplier strategy means language assets are scattered across suppliers, making terminology consistency challenging due to the lack of communication between them. Luckily, the implementation of vendor-neutral technology and having all suppliers working on the same platform mitigates any concerns regarding brand voice thanks to the centralization of all language assets. Having all suppliers leveraging the same assets gives companies full control and visibility over how their brand terminology, voice and tone are used.
From a practical perspective, therefore, we could summarize the main benefits of deploying vendor-neutral technology as:
- Centralization and full ownership of assets
- Increased cost-efficiency
- Full supplier transparency
- No supplier lock-in
Vendor-neutrality allows companies to choose which suppliers can access their technology, such as a translation management system (TMS), while ensuring consistency in the quality of localized assets. If your TMS is cloud-based, the process will be very simple: all they need is browser access. They won’t even have to install any software or apply for any licenses. Having a TMS which enables you to work with any language service provider or linguist gives you the freedom not only to choose the best one for the job at any stage, but also to never lose ownership of your language assets and, by extension, of your brand’s image and personality across your global markets.
Localization-technology expert Steve Maher explains the main value proposition of vendor-neutrality: “Vendor-neutral technology is all about customer empowerment. A TMS is the perfect example of localization technology which can provide a platform that empowers customers to make their decisions on who they want to work with on each step of their localization workflow, enabling them to make changes when needed, even on the fly, without it affecting their program’s flow. In summary, the supplier adapts to your process, not the other way around.” This use of a single platform for all localization activity also has a clear, positive impact on content consistency thanks to the centralization of language assets, a feature which TMSs like XTM Cloud provide.
Ownership of language assets for complete brand control
Language assets are a key factor in localization consistency since they include the terminology used to convey a company’s message and personality. Having full ownership over key terms allows companies to update them at any time and control how and where they are used, minimizing the risk of them being used in an incorrect way. However, if companies apply a multi-supplier method without using vendor-neutral technology, the ownership and correct application of these assets can be difficult due to the following reasons:
- Each supplier uses their own localization technology and builds up their own language assets
- Lack of communication between suppliers and use of different language assets leads to inconsistency in terminology
- Any changes to glossaries or translation memories must be communicated to each supplier separately, with no certainty that changes are applied in a timely fashion.
Having vendor-neutral technology not only gives you the flexibility you need to assign localization tasks to the best supplier but also to have full control over your language assets so that they can be applied consistently throughout your content, ensuring that your brand message is applied correctly throughout your global markets.”
Xpert at XTM International
Technology is there to enhance efficiency and make a localization program better, not to hold it back. Vendor-neutral technology like XTM Cloud not only gives you the flexibility of using the best suppliers for the job but also full ownership of your linguistic assets and the capacity to make changes on the fly.
A localization process requires input from a wide range of internal or external actors such as a reviewer coming in after a translation has been completed or someone from the legal department signing off on specific content to ensure it complies with all legal requirements. When these actors are both internal or external, bottlenecks can occur. If you’re using a freelance translator, hiring a consultant to do the review and the legal sign-off is done internally, this means that three different companies are having to work on the same exact piece of content. If they are not connected to the same platform to perform their tasks, the issues start to multiply, ranging from offline communication to time and cost efficiency.
XTM Cloud is a platform which enables all of these actors to work together, no matter in which part of the supply chain they are and whether they are part of the same supplier or different ones. A typical workflow would be as follows: a translator completes their task and submits the translation, which will be automatically sent to the reviewer. Once the reviewer completes their task and submits it, it will be automatically sent to the legal department, who can then carry out their checks and submit the finalized content for the localization manager to publish. This whole workflow advances automatically on a single platform and not just eliminates any delays, but also gives everyone involved in the localization project, actively or overseeing it, full visibility on all ongoing activity and status.
Vendor neutrality is also a good fit for single-supplier approaches, because it allows localization managers to have full visibility over the whole localization process. With everyone operating on XTM Cloud, localization managers can interact directly with the supplier to manage any queries without having to rely on other communication tools which would take more time. Plus, if a localization manager decides during the ongoing translation process that an extra workflow step needs to be added, such as a localization review by a local expert or a design review, XTM Cloud allows for this to happen seamlessly and automatically by adding a new workflow step on the fly, which can be carried internally or by another supplier.
The flexibility and freedom of access vendor-neutral localization technology provides means that companies can always have the person or team of their choice working on certain workflow steps in specific projects, without it ever affecting the functionality of the process. Whether you have one supplier or a dozen, or whether you choose to shift from one to a dozen mid-process, with XTM Cloud’s vendor-neutral technology you can have everyone working together on the same platform and with the same language assets to ensure total content consistency, giving you full control over your whole localization activity.
You always want to have the best people and those you trust in charge of the appropriate steps. With localization being an industry which is in constant change, being able to make adjustments at any point in the process should be easy and not a handicap. For this reason, deploy a vendor-neutral translation management system that enables you to do that and gives you control over how you employ your supply chain and for which tasks, no matter what type it is and how many suppliers you have.
Localization teams, in their quest for maximum efficiency and effective localization, need to tailor their workflows to specific needs of their projects. All projects have their own singularities and requirements, and this means that workflows must be adjusted and customized for each project and not vice versa, making customizable, vendor-neutral workflows a key feature to optimize any continuous-localization process.
Before customizable workflows existed, localization programs attempted to bend a workflow into a technology and used waterfall methodologies, in which the workflows were set in stone before the project began and were strictly followed until its completion, without the possibility of making any changes. As methodologies evolved and moved away from the waterfall one to more agile ones, translation management systems began to evolve as well and were able to adapt to the customer’s needs by making as many edits as necessary at the drop of a hat. This evolution was possible thanks in part to the introduction of customizable workflows in localization, which enabled the possibility to have as many workflow steps as needed, assigned to whomever companies felt was the right person or team for the job, and with the possibility of adding or removing steps along the way, without having to wait for the project to finish and having to start a new one to implement these changes.
Maher explains how this feature has changed the localization landscape: “The client no longer wants to wait until project completion to implement changes. For maximum efficiency, changes need to be made as and when they are detected, and technology should enable the ability to interject mid-flow and make all necessary adjustments.” For this reason, if your localization strategy is based heavily on marketing-email campaigns which require input from different teams (marketing, design, product, etc.), you will require a localization process with an extensive number of workflow steps for the different teams and/or suppliers involved. Having such a large amount of people working on a single project, some of whom may be external, can be a considerable challenge in terms of time. However, with all of them leveraging technology like XTM Cloud, they can work together on the same platform in real time and breeze through the workflow steps quickly and efficiently to make as many changes as needed when required.
All in all, no matter what your localization strategy is designed like and the singularities each of your translation projects has, XTM Cloud’s native vendor-neutrality and customizable workflows mean it can adapt to changing circumstances, even at short notice, giving companies peace of mind that if any unexpected or necessary adjustments need to happen, these can be made without any consequences to time-to-market and the process flow.
Changes always happen, a lot of the time unexpectedly, which is why you need a methodology that can adjust to these changes so that your process is affected as little as possible. Having an Agile methodology means that your processes will have the flexibility and adaptability needed to adapt to new circumstances, but you will need the right tools to support it, including your localization technology. For this reason, it will require features like vendor-neutrality and customizable workflows, and the only technology that can provide them for you is a translation management system like XTM Cloud.
Sometimes, decision-makers are put off implementing big changes simply because of the difficulties that come with altering processes and since change management can be daunting. However, this lack of action comes at a cost to the program and its efficiency. XTM Cloud has the flexibility that allows you to make the best decisions for your localization program without any changes affecting its flow. Vendor-neutrality, centralization of assets and adaptability are the solutions to the problems posed at the start of the article, and XTM Cloud is able deliver on every single one of them.