This post is part of the Five Phases of the Translation Workflow series.People Network

The translation workflow consists of 5 distinct phases:

In this post, we discuss the workflow that happens before you sent content to translation.

Long before your content ever goes to translation, you need to think about the communication between your company and the localization services provider (LSP). Sorting out the communication in advance will save you a lot of time and headaches when the day comes to start translating. If you wait until you actually need your content translated to first start thinking about how to communicate with your LSP, you have waited way too long. And much of this communication revolves around expectation setting.

Years (and years) ago, before I knew better, I had an “If I don’t say anything, then no one has to deal with it” attitude of setting expectations. As you can imagine, it didn’t always work out so well. Being more experienced, I know that it is critical to clearly state your expectations for everything in a relationship at the start. Sometimes topics are uncomfortable, such as money, timelines, quality markers, and so on. My rule of thumb: the more uncomfortable the topic, the more critical it is to state the expectation and get agreement. The same is true in the opposite direction. You want the other party to let you know what their expectations are. That way, you can determine if their expectations are reasonable or if they need to be negotiated.

The following is a of items, including expectations, to think about before you send the source files to your LSP:

  • Who informs the LSP that content is coming for translation?
  • How soon before the content is ready is the LSP notified?
  • Who is informed at the LSP?
  • What is the method of informing them?
  • What does the LSP provide (bid, proposal, scope of work) before translation?
  • Who is that information provided to?
  • How long does the LSP need to create the bid, proposal, or scope of work?
  • Is there a sign-off process prior to the files going to translation? Who is involved?
  • When is a purchase order issued?
  • When does work commence in relation to the purchase order being issued?

It surprises me that many companies do not have a set communication methodology that is used over and over again. Instead, they send content to translation in a haphazard fashion. Without a stable workflow, you run the risk of incurring additional costs, negatively impacting the quality of the translation, increasing time to market, and creating a lot of confusion for everyone involved.

After everyone agrees to the expectations, be sure to write them down. The best way is to use some type of legal agreement, such as a proposal, a statement of work, and so on. At minimum, send an email that clearly states what everyone has agreed to. If you don’t, you will forget. You think you’ll remember, but trust me, you’ll forget.

In the next post, we discuss the workflow that covers sending files to translation.


For more information about global content strategy, see my book Global Content Strategy: A Primer, available in a bundle of eBook formats (PDF, Kindle, ePub) from XML Press and in print or Kindle from Amazon.

Val Swisher
Latest posts by Val Swisher (see all)