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Software Localization

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Questions to Ask to Improve your ROI

After you have developed an English version of your software, it's common to extend your product's life cycle by localizing it. This involves adapting the software to the linguistic, cultural, legal, and technical requirements of specific locales. While it's often easy to understand why you need to localize your software, deciding who should handle the task is not so easy.

What do you need to look for to prevent costs from spiraling out of control? How can you decide if the translation provider will be able to meet your deadlines?

By taking the time to analyze the situation upfront, you can prevent the costly problems associated with missing your scheduled release date.

Compare your options - including freelancers, in-house resources and localization firms - against this checklist:

1. Methodology - Do they have procedures in place to identify and address risks and defects early in the process?

Asking about the actual process they use can help you understand how much attention will be given to your project. Will the time be invested in searching for subject matter experts and then training these individuals? By making this a part of the process, you're assured that the translators will have a complete understanding of your product line. Find out if they hold reviews at regular intervals. If the answer is yes, your project has a better chance at being completed on time and on budget.

2. Framework - Will the translation provider be proactive, identify risks and issues, and suggest solutions?

A solid partner will be able to assist your developers with the most technical details of internationalization and localization, and save you costly mistakes. In addition, a solid partner will be able to identify new solutions, which may reduce errors and cost. If you do not establish upfront if the software will be able to accommodate all languages and discover what modifications will be necessary to handle unique characters it will be more costly to change later. It's essential that you first identify what the common resources are before the localization engineers can make the software independent from any language/character set encoding.

3. Relevant Experience - Do they have hands-on knowledge of your industry, language and technical needs?

When you're looking for a translator, it's beneficial to work with someone who lives in the target market. That way the person has access to your local industry publications and organizations and may even be able to provide valuable feedback on the competitive landscape in your target market. In addition, a successful localization project also involves asking about their experience testing third-party applications. Try to select a partner with first hand experience with a broad set of system requirements, such as:

  • Windows Platforms (MSDN Subscriber)
  • AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, Linux
  • Apache, IIS, WebLogic, WebSphere, Tomcat
  • Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL

4. Quality Control - How do they assure they deliver a high quality project?

Anyone can say that they'll do a good job, but unless they give more details it's hard to know if they really will deliver on that promise. Find out if they will dedicate one project manager to your job from start to finish. Then, ask for the specific ways that they monitor the quality. If you receive periodic status reports with QA metrics throughout the process, you'll have the confidence of knowing flaws and errors will be caught and fixed before your release date.