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How to Build a Successful Localization Team

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by Yuko Baba, Project Manager at Commit Global

Yes, we all have encountered our share of funny translations. Those unintended jokes made us giggle; but after a good laugh, many of us ponder…how could this be? No one checked the translation before it got out? Then we usually conclude; they must have gotten someone random to translate this. In the global world we live in, we are fully aware of the importance of localization. The localization is key to expand a client base in the global market. When we do not localize well, not only do our efforts get lost in translation, but we also hurt the company brand and ultimately limit the grand opportunity this world has to offer. So how do we go about localizing?

If you are part of a large corporation, you might already have an established localization team who is dedicated to make your products shine in various global markets. But what if you have no localization strategies in place nor a localization team at your disposal? There are many ways to get your content localized – where do you start? Solicit help from a bilingual colleague?  Hire in-house translators? Work with freelance translators? Work with a localization service provider? Regardless of the route you take and/or with whom you work, there are few key components to building your own successful localization team.

Map – Get everyone involved to understand the big picture

Identify where you are going and what you would like to achieve. Gather everyone together and explain the big picture of the localization project. This is one of the keys to success. No localization team will succeed if there’s no clear, identified and unified goal in mind. No matter how talented your localization team members may be, if they end up heading in different directions, it just won’t work.

Prior to project kick off, share the goal and exchange information. What are you trying to achieve by localizing the product? Who are you trying to reach? Consider that the localization process is basically an extension of product development. It takes more than simply taking the text and translating it into another language.

Open Field and Clear Strategies

You will be working with all kinds of people from different fields who might have different priorities and ideas. Let this great opportunity work for you and not against you. This is why once a goal is identified, discussed and agreed upon, be sure to establish the strategies that everyone in your localization team can agree to execute. What would be the best way to achieve the goal? What document needs to be localized first and what takes priority – Website localization? Product localization? In what languages? Will the content need to be revisited prior to this localization effort? Iron out the details and how to go about achieving the goal.

The key here is to have an open discussion from different perspectives that will preempt any potential issues that might come along and help to come up with successful strategies.

Roles and Tools

Once the strategies are set in place, clarify the roles each person is taking in order to accomplish this localization project. Be sure that each person has the same agreed understanding of their roles and tasks. This is to avoid questions like “whose task was this supposed to be?” well into the project and tasks being pushed around without moving forward.

After the roles are established, check if each person is equipped with the tools required to accomplish their task. Do they have access to a terminology list? Do the linguists have access to the translation tools they need to translate and edit? What is the method of post translation QA and review? How should each person in the localization team communicate; via email? via project management software? Identifying those things will also help streamline the tasks and smoothen the path to building a successful localization team.

Collaboration, Cooperation, Communication

Most importantly, the key to building a successful localization team is this – collaboration, cooperation and communication. The localization project can involve a lot of people – from the product developer to localization project manager to linguists to the subject expert. When the people with different skill sets come together and collaborate, greater things can be achieved. This is probably true not only for localization projects, but for all types of projects.

The shared responsibility and the mindset of “us” and “ours” help to build a successful team. The mentality of ownership for all localization team members helps to collaborate, cooperate and communicate better. Since this is “our” project, the open and flat level of communication will help team members express their ideas and concerns which is also helpful when trying to resolve challenging problems during the project. At the end, everyone wins!


Those steps to building a successful localization team might not sound too hard to implement; however, they really require a lot of effort to be achieved. I hope the factors listed above will be good reminders for you whether you already have a good localization team, or you are looking to build one from scratch.

The factors I mentioned come from the experience I gained working at Commit Global. In our organization, we consider our service as the extension of our client’s product/brand development. If you want to know more about how we can help you with your localization efforts, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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