Localization Vendor Management

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1 Localization Vendor Management Best Practices for Managing Language Service Providers By Donald A. DePalma and Renato S. Beninatto

2 Localization Vendor Management By Donald A. DePalma and Renato S. Beninatto ISBN Copyright 2008 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc., Lowell, Massachusetts, United States of America. Published by: Common Sense Advisory, Inc. 100 Merrimack Street Suite 301 Lowell, MA USA No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Permission requests should be addressed to the Permissions Department, Common Sense Advisory, Inc., Suite 301, 100 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA , , See for usage guidelines. Trademarks: Common Sense Advisory, Global Watchtower, Global DataSet, DataPoint, Globa Vista, Quick Take, and Technical Take are trademarks of Common Sense Advisory, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Information is based on the best available resources at the time of analysis. Opinions reflect the best judgment of Common Sense Advisory s analysts at the time, and are subject to change.

3 Localization Vendor Management i Table of Contents Topic... 1 Localization Vendor Management Is Poised for Improvement... 1 How We Researched this Report... 2 Vox Populi... 3 Localization Vendor Management Defined... 3 Vendor Managers Share Common Concerns... 5 Which Vendor Management Model Works Best?... 7 Companies Start by Managing Vendors Badly and Disconnectedly... 7 Localization Teams Evolve to More Centrally Managed Oversight... 8 Companies Want to Consolidate Localization Spending... 8 How Companies Qualify Translators and Language Service Providers Nobody Buys Services without the Right Language-Domain Match Business Issues Form a Backdrop for Vendor Selection Experts Contract with Vendors and Negotiate the Fine Print Vendor Managers Use Technology as a Unifying Principle An Ongoing Challenge and Debate: Measuring Quality New Horizons for Translation and Localization Vendor Managers Marketing the Importance of Translation to the Company Trying to Improve Translation by Fixing Other People s Problems Conclusions Analysis Organization: The Best Model Depends on Company Needs Choosing Suppliers: Design Your Decision Matrix About Common Sense Advisory Future Research Applied Research and Advisory Services Figures Figure 1: Phases of Localization Maturity Model... 5 Figure 2: Differentiation among Language Service Providers Tables Table 1: Localization Maturity Model and Evolution of Vendor Management... 4 Table 2: Reality Check Shareholder Value Must Precede All Else Table 3: Pros and Cons of Organizational Models for Vendor Management Copyright 2008 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

4 ii Localization Vendor Management This page is intentionally blank. Copyright 2008 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

5 Localization Vendor Management 1 Topic This report focuses on managing the suppliers you use for language services such as translation and localization. In its research, Common Sense Advisory has found that nearly 90 percent of companies outsource some or all of their translation and localization work. Many use a stable of language service providers and freelance translators to meet their needs in product localization, website globalization, in printed collateral, online help systems, knowledge bases, technical user guides, and training materials. Every company that we talk with tells us that they struggle with the best model for procuring, organizing, managing, and measuring their language partners. This report identifies issues that all localization vendor managers face. It outlines the drivers for and describes the emerging practice of vendor management for language services such as localization, translation, and supporting services such as testing and desktop publishing. This report provides vendor managers with proof that you are not alone. It also educates suppliers on the difficulties that localization vendor managers face. We have long observed a disconnect between the expectations of buyers and sellers. This report should help each to better understand the other. The Vox Populi section outlines common practices, and the Analysis section describes best practices for vendor management. Localization Vendor Management Is Poised for Improvement Some universities and institutes offer formal courses in project management for localization and translation, all intent on certifying professionals in the best practices and commonly used tools. While project management occupies a critical niche in any localization effort, it typically gives short (if any) shrift to the recruiting, hiring, contracting, measuring, and firing of vendors. It s a relationship waiting to decay. With no formal training in this discipline, the usual practice for most people tasked with vendor management is to find the right or trusted vendors, beat them down on costs, rate them on inappropriate metrics, and then complain about their lack of responsiveness. These problems result from the nature of the deal contracts are typically short per-project gigs or one-year service agreements. Copyright 2008 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

6 2 Localization Vendor Management How We Researched this Report This report is based on daily discussions with buyers and suppliers of language services, several survey-driven reports over the last two years, and a colloquium on vendor management that Common Sense Advisory held in late Our Localization Vendor Management Colloquium brought together 35 buyers of language services from high-tech companies, most based in the United States but all multinational in operation. Our research has found that this segment software, hardware and office equipment, networking, security, medical devices, and web-only businesses is the leading edge of localization. They have longterm practices in adapting their products, documentation and websites for foreign markets. On average they sell one third to two thirds of their products outside the United States, having learned early on that they need to conduct their businesses internationally. Most operate at Level 3 or 4 of the Localization Maturity Model (see Figure 1). This report draws on previous qualitative and quantitative research, including: Best practices for translation and localization teams. Localization Maturity Model (August 2006), Where Sample Translations Fit (January 2007), Developing Products for Global Markets (June 2006), He Said, She Said, About Translation (May 2007), How to Buy Translation (September 2007), How to Avoid Getting Lost in Translation (December 2003), Collaborative Translation (Dec 2007), and Online Sourcing of Translation Services (July 2005). Language industry dynamics. Consolidation in the Language Services Market (September 2007), Ranking of Top 20 Translation Companies (May 2007), and Language Services 2006: Supply Side Outlook (January 2006)( Business case for localization. Can t Read, Won t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites (September 2006), Website Globalization: The Availability Quotient (January 2008), On the Web, Some Countries Matter More than Others (September 2007), and Beggars at the Globalization Banquet (November 2002). Language technology. Translation Management Technology (December 2006), Translation Management System Scorecards (February 2007), Automated Translation Technology (November 2006), and Beyond Global Websites (March 2005). Copyright 2008 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

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