Continuous Localization – The process of translating change

Read our interview with the two experts Dave Ruane and Dominick Kelly and learn why Continuous Localization has become such a hot topic in the localization industry

Continous Localization is the new kid in town when it comes to product development methodologies. Continuous Localization derives from the agile development cycle. The product is constantly updated and new content translated, so that the product is ready for release at all times. You don’t need to stop development to make a release. The Continuous localization approach has been adopted by the mobile apps industry and web-based apps and is rapidly spreading to other industries.

Given the high relevancy of this new methodology, Write2Users has interviewed two leading experts in the field. Dave Ruane from Xplanation (ES) and Dominick Kelly from XTM International (UK) have both worked in the localization industry for many years – and both see Continuous Localization as the new black.

Dave-RuaneDave Ruane

Dave Ruane has been involved in Continuous Localization in various guises since the mid 90s when he designed and implemented software localization engineering workflows at Microsoft. More recently he focuses on the impact on continuous delivery business models to Localization and how connectivity and simplification play their part.

The interview below is a teaser for the Continuous Delivery Localization workshop at the W2U Conference 2017 on 1-3 November in Copenhagen.

1. What is Continuous Localization?

Continuous Localization is a translation project and a set of tasks that never completely finish, while the clients products/services are active.

A project is simply updated on a regular basis, so I would say Continuous Localization is the process of translating change. And it is purely predictable and connects seamlessly with existing content development systems. Basically it is a carriage on the train like any other content process.

2. Why are translation customers requesting Continuous Localization? Isn’t it more cost-effective to develop a large volume of content in the source language and then have it translated?

Episodic or waterfall development and writing methods were inefficient both from a development and customer perspective. In development cycles schedule and feature creep were the norms and meant a ship date almost always had a problem – either functionality was reduced or the date moved. Marketing teams did not like this unpredictability and neither did customers, who sometimes had to wait months for the next release to have a new feature or a bug fix. Localization teams did not like it either because they could not start translation cycles early enough, as features were still in beta. Nowadays the expectancy is for asynchronous content process and the same for translated content; this is where Continuous  Localization comes in.

Looking at it holistically, Continuous Localization is process of translating change to avoid the costs of reshipping and re-deploying.

3. Does Continuous Localization put new demands on the LSP’s technology platform?

Continuous Localization means that managing live assets, sharing live TMs, tracking progress and real-time communication is essential. This is not possible with desktop-based tools, only with server/cloud based technologies designed for collaboration. The LSP now needs to deliver lots of small files, faster and create snapshot reporting on progress as it happens to meet client sprints.

Connectivity is key, content repositories need to be connected to the Translation workflow and that has to work 24/7/365. The technology has to enable this and harmonize the content flow independent if the content comes from a CMS, CRM, PIM or other system.

4. It seems to me that Continuous Localization disrupts the traditional translation workflow. Have your clients calculated the ROI in a Continuous Localization process compared to a traditional (slower) translation process?

The main part of the ROI is found by comparing to the situation of not having a Continuous Localization process in place. It would mean content or product is not out with customers for weeks and months at a time. Nowadays, that is inconceivable for some industry sectors and is spreading to more traditional sectors (manufacturing, medical). The competitive edge invariably is for the first to market with a solid offering. Allied with this is the new digital content universe, where not having the right (relevant, personalized) content available to move someone through the “customer journey” means lost revenue.

You have to look at translation as part of the delivery of the product or service to the market. It normally occurs near the end of the content cycle so it has the greatest chance for impact. The costs and risks for delivering a faulty product or service and the costs of having to recall it has a massive negative value that would be far greater than any translation costs.

5. The quality assurance process must be significantly shorter with Continuous Localization. Can this process be automated? Can the QA process be run on translated online content, so that potential errors can be corrected swiftly?

Standard QA can be automated from with the translation platform to a certain level i.e. spelling, grammar, terminology. However, some content will require a human in-context review for local market or legal conformity. Using industry standard users must then make changes score these changes. The only way to achieve this is using an in-context editor that will update your translation assets in real time. Otherwise there are huge process overheads and massive file management concerns.

We have seen a shift to the in country validation process for Continuous content where there is more synergy between translation and in-country teams. Having a solid technology which enables this to happen very fast helps.

Culturally there is a big shift taking place in this area. Large companies (e.g. in the technology space) are recognizing that in order to ship as part of the CD cycle and meet customers’ demands for the latest feature, content or product, you need to adapt what quality checks means. We have seen a shift in prioritization in critical localization bugs to be lower Priority e.g. in some classifications they have moved from P0 to P2. Customer experience and telemetry systems are being used more to judge if the issues can stay a cycle or 2 before they are removed. Companies are more comfortable with issues in a deployment as they know it will be fixed in say tomorrow’s release. Add to this the overall trend, that gisting and “general understanding” is becoming more normal for younger generations (think messaging apps, where something like “CU L8R” passes sufficient meaning) and the whole “what is quality paradigm” is shifting fast.

6. On the same lines – will the LSP update new translations directly to an online website? Or how do you ensure that the translated content has been reviewed before it goes online?

End clients will accept that the linguist make changes directly within a CMS or CCMS. This then would kick off the process of the end client communicating what they have changed to their LSPs or Loc Teams and then these changes being applied within the assets. This will often lead to the same issue reoccurring again and again. Client and suppliers will have multiple versions of TM assets. This is a major overhead for all teams internally and externally involved. If the process is owned by the end client, then Loc assets can be centralized by using a single platform and if the platform has a WYSIWYG visual editor then this review process can be done updating the TM assets in real-time.

The model comes down to ownership – does the end client want to invest in owning the assets and the management? or do they want a managed service and basically forget about it? Closer connectivity is inevitable where everything can be done from the CMS and the translations sent where they need to go from within the CMS. The question then is, does the CMS portray reality or do you need to do an in-context review in app, on the web etc.?

7. How does a content developer in the source language create a translation order? It seems to me that traditional translation order forms are way too slow for the Continuous Localization process.

Yes, it is all about connecting these systems and having a flow of content from the CMS or data repository with no form filling needed. This requires a level of predictability about the flow and some other pillars in place. However this is essential to have pure play Continuous Localization.

Curious and want to know more?

Write2Users is happy to announce a Continuous Delivery Localization workshop at the Localization Focus Conference 2017. The workshop is hosted by Dave Ruane from Xplanation (ESP) and Dominick Kelly from XTM International (UK).