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How Continuous Localisation Lets Agile Software Teams Deploy Faster

We live in a truly connected world, and technology has allowed businesses to connect with customers from across the globe. While this unrivalled level of connectivity undoubtedly has its benefits, it has also created several new challenges for companies, especially those who’ve become agile.

As these organisations expand overseas, a new demand for translation services has emerged, and the language industry has had to adapt to new processes to meet the fast-paced lifestyle of modern business.

While traditional translation services are still an essential tool for businesses, there’s a growing requirement for localisation services, and in recent years an increasing number of companies are opting for a continuous localisation workflow to keep up with their agile software development cycle.

In this post:

What is continuous localisation?

The emergence of agile development processes as a software development methodology that emphasises quick, iterative sprints has changed the landscape of software development.

Back when waterfall-style development was still the norm, localisation teams would receive a completed software product and be tasked with translating it in time for release.

However, the fast-paced environment of agile development has created a need for solutions that can keep up with the teams and their workflows, and localising iteratively in 1- or 2-week sprints became the enabler for software developers to work in parallel with the localization team from the very beginning of the development process. This is called agile localisation.

Agile localisation

Continuous localisation is a subset of agile localisation, and it involves a step further: Ensuring that content is ready for release at all times.

Continuous localisation enables a number of the agile principles: build valuable software early in small iterations, release often, get feedback early, pay continuous attention to technical excellence, etc.

Agile introduces the idea that the team should get their software ready for release (and localised!) throughout development. Continuous, as a sub-set of agile, places more emphasis on the fact that the teams keep their software ready for release and localisation at all times during development, but it doesn’t involve stopping and making a special effort to create a releasable build.

Continuous localisation

The benefits of continuous localisation

Continuous localisation has a number of advantages over traditional translation methods, including:

Increased speed to market

With continuous localisation, content can be released to the target language markets in real-time, as soon as it’s ready, however minor the feature update may be. Continuous localisation eliminates the need to wait for large batches of content to be completed before launching, as translators can begin localisation work even while the feature is still in development.

When you operate in several markets, you’re also able to simultaneously launch in multiple countries, maximising the impact of launches and ensuring that customers have access to your products or services as quickly as possible.

Increased customer satisfaction

When you go to market quicker, users can enjoy the full functionality far faster. This helps to increase their overall satisfaction, as they will have access to the full feature set of your product wherever they are in the world.

Full transparency

Implementing continuous localisation also ensures that all team members, from developers to managers, can enjoy complete transparency. This not only helps to support a smoother process, but also encourages collaboration.

The nature of the process requires translators to regularly discuss linguistic choices with developers, leading to a continued exchange of viewpoints and information, helping to create a more harmonious working environment and a more complete final product.

Shorter development cycles

When you have a continuous localisation workflow in place, productivity gains are clear to see. Teams can develop and deliver features faster, while being able to localise in real-time, increasing efficiency and helping to shorten the overall development cycle.

Higher quality translations

Continuous localisation requires designers, developers, and translators to work closely together. This, coupled with the automation required to enable the continuous process, leads to higher quality translations as human error decreases and all parties are constantly monitoring each other’s work.

What continuous localisation looks like in practice

We saw above that the steps of a continuous localisation workflow involve:

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Development
  • Localisation
  • Delivery
  • Maintenance

In practice, this could mean:

  1. Planning: Setting up a workflow for each language, with teams discussed and agreed upon. Creating a project on a localisation platform, assigning responsibilities, externalising translatable content into source code repositories to avoid hard coding, and setting up automation.
  2. Design: Setting up an internationalisation framework that can support multiple languages, which will enable the content to be localised effectively later on. Creating a user interface (UI) in the source language that is flexible enough to adapt to other languages.
  3. Development: Creating the code for a new feature, ensuring all new features are localisable before implementation.
  4. Localisation: Translating content into target languages in parallel with development, ensuring open communication channels and a collaborative environment between designers, developers, translators, and other stakeholders. Performing functional and linguistic QA checks on the content.
  5. Delivery: Preparing the localised content for release, running tests to confirm everything is working as expected, and releasing the new feature to target-language markets, ensuring all content is translated accurately and functions as intended.
  6. Maintenance: Updating translations when needed, monitoring data from around the world for insights into customer behaviour, user feedback, and product usage. Making regular checks on performance.

Then rinse and repeat.

Continuous localisation in practice
Source: Crowdin

The implications of continuous localisation for translators

By nature, the concept of continuous localisation requires translators to be able to:

  • Work in an agile environment, with the ability to adapt quickly to changing customer requirements
  • Work in a highly organised fashion, monitor progress regularly, and provide regular feedback to designers, developers, and other stakeholders
  • Have quick turnaround times, as localisation is usually expected to run alongside development from start to finish
  • Combine technical knowledge of coding languages alongside strong linguistic skills
  • Work with automated tools and processes, as automation is a key component of continuous localisation
  • Advise on technical, linguistic, and cultural implications of localising content
  • Understand UX design principles, enabling them to localise content in ways that make sense to the target audience

Overall, continuous localisation can be a great way for translators to use their skills and knowledge to help create better products that appeal to global audiences. It allows them to take ownership of a project while working closely with other teams and stakeholders.

Embrace continuous localisation for shortest lead times and more efficient process

Integrating a continuous localisation workflow into your development process when you’re already working with agile development methods can help you to reduce lead times, increase efficiency, and ultimately create better products that appeal to global audiences.

As a result, continuous localisation is becoming an increasingly popular approach for companies looking to expand their reach into foreign markets. So why not embrace it?

Maria Scheibengraf Crisol Translation Services SaaS Translation Services

Author: Maria Scheibengraf

Maria Scheibengraf is an English-to-Spanish marketing and SEO translator specialised in software (SaaS, martech, fintech), and Operations Manager at Crisol Translation Services, which she co-founded in 2016. With a solid background in programming and marketing, Maria has an in-depth understanding of the technical intricacies involved in software programs, websites, and digital platforms. Maria is also the author of The SEO Translation Bible.

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