Developing a Relationship with Your Localization Department

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If your company has buyers scattered across the organization and a lack of visibility into localization spend, you wouldn’t be the first. Although developing and driving value from third-party vendor relationships is typically procurement’s domain, ProcureCon’s 2017 Annual CPO study found that sourcing teams are out of the loop: Only 26 percent of CPOs consider themselves fully aligned with the rest of the business, and so have no hand in optimizing spend for ROI.

However, decentralized or ad hoc localization creates chaos for procurement. Particularly when localization requirements are growing rapidly—as is the case for most companies expanding their global footprint—this could leave teams flooded with translation requests from all sides, unable to meet deadlines, releasing inconsistent, low-quality global content, and spending a lot of money on these conflicts with no clear idea of returns.

Instead, procurement should now be focusing on how to work with localization departments to centralize translation services and cost models. Indeed, the ProcureCon report found that more and more companies are moving toward universally engaging procurement in spend so that CPOs can do what they do best: drive value.

Centralized translation doesn’t yet figure high on some procurement teams’ priority lists, and others have prioritized centralization but aren’t sure how to sell the idea to management. Either way, things are about to change.

Making the case

No matter what opportunity a company takes to disrupt their industry, the ultimate goal of innovation is to offer value. One of the most logical ways to do this is to reduce friction between the related business units and functions. In other words, procurement should be able to engage directly with whichever department buys translation services—whether that be localization, marketing, or product development—in order to centralize those services and have everyone working toward the same goal.

As with any new initiative, it first helps to outline a few benefits:

  1. Increased productivity: Taking translation-related activities off other buyers’ plates allows them more time to focus on other critical work.
  2. Unified metrics: When localization workflows are centralized, it’s much easier to track resources and measure impact.
  3. Faster execution: Rather than employing translation as an afterthought to global growth initiatives, centralization can ensure preemptive and streamlined planning.
  4. Better quality: By centralizing use of translation memory technologies, glossaries, and other critical tools, the final product is more likely to be free of errors.
  5. Brand consistency: Centralized databases of translations will strengthen consistency of messaging, and thus an organization’s brand, across all languages.
  6. Cost savings: All of the above contributes to increased efficiency and, in turn, reduced translation costs.

How to work with localization departments

CPOs are beginning to establish themselves as true business partners with all stakeholders, including localization leaders, which will better position them to manage centralization efforts. Unifying all localization activities doesn’t happen overnight, but there are a few straightforward steps procurement can take to restructure operations.

The process should, of course, start with a strategy. Procurement can engage localization teams to identify holes in current processes and assess the people, KPIs, and technology global content needs for effective localization. One of those people, preferably someone at the center of business operations, should then be designated owner.

In terms of technology, the process will require a centralized system. A core set of tools that stores all translations in one place, rather than a fragmented adoption of technologies, will eliminate unnecessary steps and allow for better control over content.

Finally, the organization can benefit from establishing a localization center of excellence that devises a best practice model for content localization. Outlining exactly how to leverage the tools involved will put both teams firmly on one page.

Things to note before centralizing

  • Communication is key. To embark on centralization with eyes wide open, procurement should talk to buyers to get a better understanding of translation services and associated pain points throughout the company.
  • CPOs can also employ subject matter expertise and other external services, not only to gain insight on how to bring localization and business processes together but to help nurture more strategic engagement with fellow stakeholders.
  • Ultimately, while the objective is to assemble translation services in the most productive way, centralization may not mean scrutiny of every purchase across the organization. Certain commodities are region-specific cannot be sourced globally. Recognizing this, procurement need only adopt a consultative role, serving more as a value-driven strategic command center.

The ability to build better partnerships with the organization opens up a whole new world for CPOs, though determining how to work with localization departments to drive greater value will take a few fundamental shifts. As they move into a more strategic role, however, CPOs will hold much more weight in ensuring profitability levels are where they need to be.

Take a look at the ProcureCon report to get a detailed sense of the evolving relationships between CPOs and other departments, the CPO’s growing strategic influence among internal leaders, and the technologies procurement teams are using to capture and analyze spend-related data.

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