Localisation project managers (PMs) are an essential component of any successful language service providers (LSPs), because of their unique position between suppliers and clients. Their influence over projects and customer experience goes far more than just transferring files into systems and returning deliverables but rather managing people, workflows, timeframes, international locations… A myriad of components, that added up represent a strategic business leverage and put them at the heart of the customer and supplier experience.
As Rachel Barakat, Enterprise Program Manager at Welocalize said: “The PM is like an orchestra maestro, leading a diverse team of translators, linguists, third-party reviewers, testing engineers, DTP operatives, translation automation developers, digital marketers and multimedia specialists. The result is a symphony of multilingual content that engages a global audience.”
The interface for clients & vendors
Any localisation project managers will be in contact with at least 10 and in some cases up to 50 different customers depending on the number of projects they are involved in and their scale. A key to success is their people management skills and their ability to build solid and long-lasting work relationships. Because PMs are the go-to contacts for enquiries about on-going projects they represent an important component of the customer experience so precious to any successful business relationships.
Know your clients, know your industries
The localisation project manager has a great vantage point from which to learn more about the customers. Because they monitor, revise and advise on client-specific projects, this level of involvement enables them to build a deep knowledge of their client’s business, understanding their localisation pain points, strategic objectives and global growth plans.
On a product and internal knowledge level, PMs are often required to attend client product presentations and retail store immersion training to ensure they fully understand the product, the brand, and the experience that the client is looking to deliver. To create and develop the right local experience, you have to experience it yourself.
The localisation project manager needs to infiltrate their client’s industries in order to maximise the value they add to the customer, the LSP and the projects. They must be able to speak their customer’s language so they can communicate efficiently with them but also with their team of linguists. Knowing the industry means that PMs are greater at catching and correcting the translation errors delivering higher quality projects. They also become more aware of peak production times and can address demand more efficiently. At 2M, our PMs might visit the Corporation Communication departments of our clients, put on safety helmets on-site inspections to industrial factories of our manufacturing customers or savour the latest palette temptations of our agribusiness clients. They follow their clients’ corporate Linkedin page and twitter and become essentially part of their client’s team.
Manage your linguists
Another part of the localisation project manager role is the management their linguistic teams. This aspect brings up their team management skills and their ability to involve, engage and get the best out of their linguists to produce high-quality projects within demanding timeframes. They also understand the great value that suppliers represent for the LSP, it would be naive to think of this relationship as little more than a supplier-customer relationship since it’s not just customers who can be your industry experts. Our 2M Community consists of translators, interpreters, voice actors and editors. They are all an important part of our ecosystem and a PM job is also to recognise talent and promote their strengths thus enabling a high performing 2M linguist community.
Impact on the business growth
Improving workflows and pushing technology progress
Because the localisation project manager is at the forefront of projects delivery, he understands better workflows and processes and how technology can improve them. Being able to critically examine potentially outdated workflows and application of technology demands a subtle skill set, comprising analysis, problem-solving and tact. Because project managers must keep up to date with the industry’s technological advancements, they are able to identify the potential use of new technologies in their daily activities and therefore push their implementation into their business leading to innovation and enhanced service delivery.
Enhancing internal collaboration
A PM will often be dealing with projects that require the assistance of other internal departments such as Sales, Marketing, Design and their impact on internal collaboration is a great deal and key to the smooth functioning of an LSP. The PM ensures the right talent and tools are aligned to different content types. From export marketing strategies at the research stage, such a brand name IP & cultural appropriateness checking or focus groups through managing international digital marketing strategies including multilingual SEO and social media campaigns, the project manager is an all-rounder who is able to handle diverse projects and lead teams of various type of professionals.
It seems obvious, but the responsibility of a PM is to manage. The more they are able to manage and influence, the more trust other departments will have in their ability to make and execute decisions.