Key notions in agile management of translation and localisation

Key notions in agile management of translation and localisation

While agile process management itself has made its way into business over a decade ago, it remains relatively new to the specialists working within the translation and localisation industries. Even though it has been developed with software in mind, main assumptions of the agile movement could be easily extended to cover language services as well. The concept arose due to the widespread disappointment in missed deadlines and unsatisfactory outcomes, both stemming from generally implemented and trusted waterfall model.

It was mainly based on project submission completed in subsequent steps; it had one major disadvantage, though. Such mode of action favoured the emergence of multiple mistakes, substantial delays and misunderstandings, leading ultimately to an overall failure. The agile idea supported collaboration instead of negotiations, as well as flexible approach, interactions and personal input over complicated procedures and tools. The core value, though, consists in appropriate reaction to change instead of rigorous adherence to a prepared plan.

All these values could be also implemented in language services; no wonder, then, that multiple organisations have refused to treat translations and localisation services solely as a ‘by-product’ of a long and complex process. The usual procedure involved both services being provided at the very last stages of project completion, entirely excluding linguists from former steps of its development. Such approach caused numerous mistakes to emerge, as vendors were often provided lexical items with little to no context; this made it nearly impossible to provide a reliable translation. In the long run, these corrections would be both financially and temporally inefficient, generating further costs and affecting negatively brand image. With cooperation valued higher than individual effort, as well as main focus placed on communication, the agile project management can yield astonishing results – see which notions are crucial for language services industry.                      

  • Recognise the real value of information exchange. Instead of being the last ones to arrive at the scene, language specialists should be introduced to the project as soon as possible. Following the project from the initial stages they will be able to take into consideration priceless observations, shorten the deadline and cater to customer’s needs.
  • Avoid procrastination – purchase orders are to be accepted and completed really fast. Though small, these projects might turn out to be mighty when it comes to your general revenue. Always take time to respond to translation request, no matter how tiny these might be. Such orders are widespread on the market today and we can only expect their popularity to grow; however, beware of using the “minimal project fee” quotation as it may result in tremendous costs for your loyal customers.

agile management

  • Reduce the management to the minimum. Given the value of such projects and a tight deadline, only such action can guarantee that you will retain the margin.
  • Engage translators in your customer’s processes. A decreasing number of entrepreneurs manage their processes manually; since all processes are automated, it is unbelievably easy to connect your own systems with those of your customer. This way language service providers can stay up-to-date with customer’s business decisions.
  • Finally yet importantly – automation is your best ally. While it might seem contradictory, as the agile movement focuses first and foremost on human interaction, the use of machines in project completion relieves people from mundane and repetitive tasks connected with finance management or acceptance of requests.

The idea of an agile approach is priceless when it comes to the reduction of illogical information found in the source material; it also significantly contributes to the decrease of cost and errors. There is only one obstacle capable of making this solution harder to implement than it actually sounds: how to persuade your customers that engaging the language service provider in the process on its early stages has multiple benefits? Just let them know that it comes with shorter delivery time, reduced cost and perfect, polished translations.

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