John Weisgerber

Collaboration is Key to Successful Localization

Localization Collaboration

I’m sure you’ve felt that little sinking feeling that comes with a new batch of questions from your translation team: “if you could just track down the answers to all these questions by tomorrow so I can deliver on time #kthanxbye.” This is likely to generate some questions of your own, especially if you are busy doing other things that are not localization.

  • Why do you have to interrupt your daily work to help explain your own strings? Don’t you have somebody to do that? You’re busy enough as it is trying to finish this feature.
  • How is this stuff not clear? You spent months testing and refining this brand message. 
  • How are you supposed to know what that string means? You didn’t write most of this content. Who did write this anyway, and how can I reach that person?

Well, cheer up, my friend! The arrival of such questions is actually good news because it signals that your translators are making their best effort to localize your product and drive success in your international markets through great UX!

You see, no matter how much effort you put into providing context for your translators, questions about meaning, usage, or the most effective approach to a particular foreign market will still arise, and team collaboration is necessary to resolve them. The only thing worse than a translator who asks too many questions is a translator who doesn’t ask any at all. If there are no questions, then either your strings are so well crafted as to be 100% crystal clear and error-free (really?) or else your translators are not putting maximum effort into understanding and localizing your strings.

Q&A Drives Quality Translation

“Query management” is actually a significant and essential part of managing translation projects. It is a common misconception that localization project managers are simply ‘file pushers’ who move files back and forth between the developers and the translators without adding much value. I often say that translation project management begins at project kickoff rather than ending there and failing to understand this is a mistake made by most TMS tools on the market.

In fact, there is a long history of translation apps that failed for just this reason. They sought to cut out overhead by connecting developers directly to translators but doing so confronted developers with linguistic problems they weren’t prepared to deal with while at the same time pushing engineering problems onto linguists who did not understand them. It’s a painful if instructive, way of illustrating what translation managers do and the real value they add as a bridge between these two communities.

Regardless of whether your workflow is continuous, agile, waterfall, or ad hoc, query management is key to delivering quality translation. And an advanced cloud-based TMS is key to managing queries efficiently. The benefits are the same as for any other collaborative endeavor: instant online communication and centralized shared storage of authoritative information for future reference.

Collaborate Efficiently in Transifex

Transifex offers several ways to ask questions, track them, and share answers among the whole localization team. Announcements, Discussions, and Messages enable you to get the right information to the right team members at the right time.

  • Announcements are best for broadcasting information and updates about an entire project. Select “Announcements” from the project menu to create a post that will be shared with all project members.
  • Discussions are used within teams in Transifex. You can select a team on the Teams page and start a discussion for just those team members. You can include all languages or only include members of a certain language when the discussion is not relevant to others.
  • Messages are for communicating among two or more individuals. Similar to your favorite instant messenger app, click on your profile picture in Transifex and select “Messages” from the menu to start a chat.

Some of the queries your translators raise are more than just simple clarifications. They may be issues that could seriously hold up translation quality or turnaround time. So Transifex also provides issue tracking and comments that are linked directly to strings in the editor. From the Comment tab under the string being edited you can add an issue with one of five priority levels, ranging from “Low” to “Blocker”. You can also select a category for your issue if categories have been added by an administrator in the organization settings. Project maintainers will be notified as soon as an issue is added, and then team members can discuss and resolve the issue.

Looping in the Whole Team using Slack

One of the challenges of query management is that often the person who knows the answer to a question is not part of the localization team and does not have a user account in the TMS. The developer or technical writer who created that string is probably not involved in the day to day process of localization. Often all the translators in all languages are sending questions to a single project manager, who then must find the right person to answer them. This forms a bit of a bottleneck and creates a lot of extra work for the PM.

Slack is one of the most popular messaging and collaboration apps, and many companies use it almost exclusively to run their operations. Not only is Transifex’s Slack integration a convenient way to monitor translation progress and updates without needing to log in to the TMS, but it seamlessly connects the localization Q&A to the entire network by pushing notifications to a dedicated Slack channel. Any time an announcement or team discussion is created, or a comment or issue is added to a string, a message will appear in the Slack channel with the contents of the update and link directly to the string or discussion in Transifex.

All stakeholders can be notified instantly when a translation issue arises that requires their input, or easily forward an issue to the proper person. The Slack integration, combined with all the collaboration features in Transifex, will reduce the workload of managing translator queries, get correct answers to translators to resolve issues faster, and result in high-quality localization and a better user experience.

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