Localization tools are only as good as their users

Translation Tools

In all industries, including the localization and translation industry, new tools are continuously designed and sold to streamline the key processes used in the business. The overall goals of these tools center on improving efficiency, saving time and reducing cost.

Organizations that depend on the management of projects involving the expertise of multi-specialized professionals require a strong leader at the helm, no matter how sophisticated the tools. This is true for a general contractor for a large construction site, for a program manager for a manufacturing or software company, or for the project manager of an elaborate NASA shuttle mission. This individual is responsible for making sure that the end product of these cross-functional teams is delivered successfully.

The same holds true for the localization industry where the project manager must select appropriate resources with the proper expertise to complete the project per the required specifications, properly using the localization tools available to facilitate this effort.

Translation memories are one of the tools heavily used by localization teams with great success. A more recent tool added to the internationalization arsenal is the translation management system or TMS. This enterprise-level localization tool is used to facilitate packaging and distribution of translation kits, centralize the data repository for translation assets, and facilitate communication and collaboration among all the project stakeholders.

Used properly, a TMS can greatly increase the efficiency of file and terminology exchange, as well as the communication and clarity of project requirements. But in order for the project to be a success, the proper resources must be selected for all phases of the project. Translators must be chosen with native language expertise in the subject matter and style of the material being translated. Desktop publishing teams must be versed in the proper file types, language nuances during layout, and attention to detail for the final quality assurance. Translation memories, terminology glossaries and other reference materials must also be selected properly. And last but not least, the project manager must structure the workflow and communicate the proper details to ensure that end results meet the client’s requirements.

Localization tools can be a tremendous help in organizing and packaging data as well as providing a central point of communication. But they are no substitute for a skilled and knowledgeable localization team. Successful use of a TMS only complements the proper localization resources in the execution of localization projects; it does not replace them!

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