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The World at Your Doorstep: Building a Globalization Program Office

Globalization consulting

If you’re in charge of preparing your content for a foreign market, you’re probably in reaction mode.

Maybe you’ve just acquired a new client who needs their UI in 18 more languages. Or maybe your product has grabbed the attention of people in Germany, and you now have to make sure that the product’s documentation is in German as well. Or maybe word has come down from the C-suite that you’re launching in Japan–but you don’t have any marketing material adapted yet. It’s projects like these that leave international project managers and directors scrambling and stressed.

In fact, if that’s you, take a minute to breathe right now.

This stage won’t last forever, and below we’ve collected some tips to help you pass through this part of globalization faster and more efficiently.

First, there are some things you need internally and externally. The main challenge is:  

Global program office visual

A messy network centered around several business units duplicates your efforts, time, and administrative costs. Without a centralized office, you might not be able to allocate your resources and assets optimally. This highly networked structure might also mean that you lose track of your branding consistency because your employees are playing a never-ending game of telephone.

On the other hand, running everything from a Globalization Program Office (or a similarly catchy name) means far fewer things to keep track of. You will have a process in place that cuts complexity wherever possible. You can manage your budget, maintain a consistent brand, and optimize your resource and assets. Because you can easily deploy and manage your assets, you’ll also likely enjoy a better time to market. And even better–this is a scalable model, so you can use the same office for each one of those 18 languages.

Yes, please–I need this! How can I get started?

To make this switch to operational excellence there are a few things that you need.

#1: Tech Support / Standardization (Internal)

Support from your internal technology team/department/personnel is crucial to making a GPO work. The translation process is complicated. With files and text in all sorts of formats coming from all sorts of stakeholders, you need to get rid of as much of the manual process as possible and automate all these transfers.

The reality of the day is that with so many files formats and content types out there, you will probably not be able to accommodate every type into your system. It is important to strike a balance between adapting to your internal clients and requiring a level of standardization. This is where the processes and systems your tech team can put together will increase your adaptive capacity and give you the time and resources to handle more.

Buy-in from your tech support will allow you to integrate and optimize in the way that is needed for a smoothly functioning program.

#2: Supportive People (Internal)

Good project management can make a successful GPO, just as less-than-ideal project management can make a GPO an exercise in frustration. Seek out people who are on board with the program and committed to making it work. Bring people on board by highlighting how a streamlined GPO makes everyone’s lives easier.

You will also need buy-in from the people at the top. Talk with those in charge to see how you need to align with overall business goals. This will go a long way in getting you a mandate from above.

#3: Vendor Support (External)

Not only will you need a good internal team, you’ll need an organized and tech-savvy translation partner on the outside.

Translation factory visual

While you are setting up a smooth translation process on your side, your translation partner should be doing the same in order to get you the best translation (a combination of quality, cost, turnaround time).

There is a lot that a strong translation partner can do to make your life smoother and save you money but here are a few musts.

  • Take advantage of translation memory
  • Automate the manual steps
  • Talk with you. You need a partner who is aware of what is going on on your end so they can customize a process that is most beneficial for your needs. Open lines of communication are a must if you want this type of translation and localization program.

At the end of the day, the goal is to create a fully functioning global program that can meet your business’s international needs and drive business goals.

If you are looking for a translation and localization partner to help you move towards this kind of system, we would be happy to talk. Contact us to set up a consultation.