How Performant is Your Localization Provider?
KPIs: Measuring the success of software localization initiatives
When is commissioning a software translation “worth it” for a company? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) provide an objective, measurable answer to that question. They help localization managers detect quality issues, monitor that delivery deadlines are being upheld, and make optimal use of their localization budget. At the same time, they provide decision-makers such as localization and product managers with a reliable database that allows them to determine whether translation providers are actually fulfilling the requirements which they have been given.
Milengo knows from many years of experience that only a fraction of companies works with sophisticated software localization KPIs – and this even applies for global concerns that translate millions of words each year. This is a striking fact, particularly when you consider that the data points needed for KPIs are typically already available – after all, today’s localization workflows are shaped by automated procedures and standardized processes and quality checks. It’s very easy to define and measure KPIs in these kinds of tech-based, data-driven environments, whether this is done using translation statistics from CAT tools or project metadata from translation management systems (TMS). Moreover, the commissioned translation provider can, in some cases, also provide KPI-relevant data.
How can suitable KPIs be identified for localization initiatives? The bad news is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution – localization managers must identify their areas of focus based on their business goals and operational structure. They should start by determining which localization requirements are indispensable. For instance, do massive volumes of text need to be localized for the knowledge base of company software? In this case, the focus should probably lie on securing low total costs per weighted translated word. Other companies commission translations with the goal of shortening the time-to-market of their product. Furthermore, it’s often the case that KPIs look beyond the “magic triangle” of costs, time, and quality. For example, a global software company would hope that a trusted localization service provider acts proactively to raise potential Internationalization issues in source strings as part of a ‘Proactivity’ or ‘Service Quality’ KPI.
Laying the groundwork for making strategic decisions
The localization industry is changing at a rapid pace. Technology trends such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, and process automation are shaping the face of the industry. Clearly defined KPIs are crucial in this highly complex environment; without them, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reliably evaluate LSPs with regard to quality, flexibility, and cost-efficiency. With the help of custom KPIs, localization managers and product teams can monitor the performance of their localization provider via dashboards and analysis tools and, in the event of a drop in performance, quickly take action.