1. Clarify what you are talking about
Every best practice needs a good acronym and for global content it’s GILT: Globalisation – Internationalisation – Localisation – Translation.
This signifies the different stages of your product or content to reach the global market. While the GILT approach provides a complete framework, it also is best applied chronologically:
During Globalisation you make sure you understand all the implications and issues that your product or content will encounter in different global markets. You address those issues as part of your Internationalisation efforts in a way that does not require your product to be re-engineered for each of the markets.
The Localisation is necessary to prepare the variable parts of your product so it can be deployed. Together with the Translation, you face the crucial steps to get your product just right for each target market. In those two steps, you address and meet all culture- and language-related challenges of publishing your applications and products.
2. Create buy-in on all management levels
Top global companies treat localisation as a key growth tool because they want their products to have the same attraction and reach as in the original market.
A successful global product means to put plans into place at an early stage, and with a successful global strategy at its foundation. The best companies lay this foundation by addressing their management plan and Globalisation strategy. Senior management ownership and strong stakeholder participation will make sure that the strategies are achieved.
3. Author your content with translation in mind
Use authoring tools that help to professionally deal with the challenges of content authoring and management. This will help you, for example, to identify and reuse phrases and even whole paragraphs in documentation and manuals of different products. But also make sure that your source content uses consistent terminology and create lists of crucial terms of your product and brand. Define and document clear style guides that reflect grammatical and brand preferences, and have a plan for editing and approved of your source content.
All those areas will also flow into the translation process. Your translators are then in the right position to take care of the correct and consistent translation of your terminology (and that it is used). For example, here at Lingo24, our in-country translators use the same style guides and allow for any special editing and approval steps that your processes require.
4. Organise your content
Use as much information as possible to mark-up your content with valuable information. Save it as one-source- publishing-friendly formats, like DITA (the Darwin Information Typing Architecture – an XML standard for content management), and use a CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to publish your content to a variety of channels, like web content, PDF, and dynamic database content, etc. Use an MDM (Master Data Management) solution to prevent duplicates and errors within your data.
And, most importantly, make sure that your content is ready to be translated, stored, and used in other languages and scripts.
5. Streamline your workflows
Move away from ad-hoc, brute force or high-risk workflows to get your content ready for other markets. As in other parts of your business, the key to growth is in building up ever-improving processes that are measurable, repeatable, and scalable. Therefore, your overall change management and automation strategies are key to the success of your localisation initiatives. The perfect result would be a turnkey approach to localisation and translation, making multiple languages a seamless part of how you do business.
6. Ask for advice
Besides a host of day-to-day issues, like encoding, pluralisation, or text expansion, it is advisable to get external help to analyse your current strategies, workflows and methods and point out paths to a higher localisation maturity.
A Localisation Maturity Model will help you baseline your organisation against the world’s best so you are clear on where any change can have the biggest impact.