Careful planning is the key to success in any localization project. The more thoroughly your localization team is briefed, the more likely they are to achieve success for you. That’s where a localization kit comes in.
A localization project is typically an attempt to adapt a digital product into a new market. For that, you usually need a localization team – sometimes know as an LSP (localization service provider).
The team will bring in disciplines such as development, testing, information architecture, search skills, cultural knowledge and language skills for your target market.
With a team with such a broad range of skills, you need to provide a localization kit that’s pretty broad on what it offers. The more your team understands your requirements, the better they can meet them for their specific disciplines.
Your kit should include everything they need to orientate them and brief them on your needs and expectations. This will include practicalities such as graphics files and the target language and dialects, project management information such as timeline expectations, and also elements such as brand information and advice on tone-of-voice.
Sometimes you’ll hear the localization kit referred to as a BOM (bill of material). That’s because it includes an itemized list of everything needed on the project, from the files themselves to any accompanying information and instructions needed to use them.
The first question is – when do you put together a localization kit? Ideally, you should do this after the first code-release on the primary piece of software. This ensures the localization kit is totally up to speed on the latest version of the code. It’s not always possible to manage this timing but it’s what you should aim for.
If you’re trying to release your product to market in multiple languages simultaneously, the point of first release may be too late to start building your kit.
It’s a trickier prospect building a localization kit for a product that’s not yet code-released but sometimes you need to do this for a product that’s being released in multiple locations simultaneously.
If you can provide the kit before the localisation project really begins, you’ll also find you get a more accurate quote and time estimate.
As a rule, your kit should contain everything the localisation team needs to create a localized version of the software without having to approach you for anything else. All this needs to be well organized and laid out.
Aim to include information on how the kit should be used, a background on the project and contextual information about the localization.
On a practical level, you’ll need to include all the files, including the binary and resource files. Include a beta version of the running software if you have it already. Encourage your developers to add their own notes advising the localization engineers how to deal with the files they’re sending over.
It makes sense to keep thing organised centrally – and you’ll definitely want to do that if you’re running multiple localization projects. Centralizing resources means that any errors (such as missing files) can be fixed once, rather than multiple times for each separate localization project.
If you’re planning to localize your project into multiple markets, having a centralized resource bank is the best way to scale your kit quickly for multiple LSP teams.
Project management information
To help the smooth running of your project, remember to include information that’s essential to the LSP’s project manager. This includes the project release schedule, which will include things such as milestones and hand-offs, and your expectations for quality and testing.
You should be working with an LSP that understands the culture that the project is being localized into but you should include specific information about which audience you’re targeting in that culture.
You’ll need to include information that’s specific about your brand and your project, such as an overview of the competition in your target market. It’s also your responsibility to explore any legal or regulatory issues that might affect your project in that market and make sure the LSP is briefed on them via the kit.
Managing the kit
You should include all relevant contact information for any of the stakeholders and participants in the project. This might include the contact details for any in-country reviewers you have.
Your project will run more smoothly if everyone from your own organization is briefed about the project and ready to respond to the LSP quickly if required.
When you’ve created your kit, make sure to create an index of everything that’s in it. This will help your LSP check everything is there. It also helps maintain consistency across all your projects.
Your project will be more likely to be delivered on time, and as you intended, if you create a robust localization kit to handover to the localization team.
It will stop them having to approach your team all the time asking for resources or clarifying your expectations and requirements. This will release your own team to carry on with their own tasks whilst the localization project continues.
It may seem time-consuming to put together all this information but a well-structured and properly thought-out localization kit is often the key to a project’s success. Take the time to do it properly, make sure your whole team contribute and it’ll save you headaches in the long run.