Claim a Lane!

Translation Localization VendorI am in Lebanon this week and for those who have been here, you must recall Lebanon’s horrific traffic.

Traffic problems are typically attributed to population explosion, increased appetite for cars, lack of public transportation and archaic infrastructure, all of which Lebanon suffers from. But also much of the misery is self-inflicted by the very bad driving habits (and manners) that Lebanese drivers are notorious for. It is unfortunate that these habits are major contributors to further chaos, serious accidents and frustrating traffic jams.

For those of you who have never been to Lebanon, let me give you an example. Lebanese drivers do not have the concept of a lane. A two-lane street is shared by four cars at a time, or more if space permits! If you attempt to claim a lane in Lebanon, you are quickly reminded that you are hogging the road by extremely close encounters and loud horn noises demanding that you share!

The same can be said about archaic thinking and common myths in translation-localization that are entrenched in the minds of some high-level executives. Let me illustrate…

Recently a client of ours that was acquired by a larger company was informed by the higher-ups that they can no longer use our services and have to use the vendor that is currently approved by the acquiring company. They insisted on consolidating budgets, people and processes. After 13 years of working with us with flawless results and after helping them grow their international business by 10 times, making them an attractive target for acquisition, it was time to say our goodbyes.

Our trained translators, project managers, localizers and desktop publishers, as well as our tailored translation-localization methods and techniques were reluctantly replaced by generic processes, less experienced staff and lower-cost services.

Eight months into the transition, what was a smooth running highway, became a congested and hazardous road, filled with potholes, delays, frustrations and casualties!

There are benefits in consolidation if you can execute and scale, but often, these benefits don’t outshine the experience that you have amassed with the vendor that consistently delivered for you over the years. If your products or processes are complicated, you have to have a sound, thoroughly planned and well executed transition process, to have a sliver of hope in succeeding.

If with your aggressive management style you insist on sharing lanes, savings will quickly evaporate when your product releases collide and delays and frustrations become the norm. When you acquire a company, it is most likely because they were cruising fast down a brilliant path. Let them continue on their blazed trail. Allow them to claim their own lane!

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