Planning for an International Product Launch
When planning an international product launch, best practice would be to call in the translation team early for feedback.
Not everyone has experienced the peculiar joy (sarcasm intended) of launching an international project with a large organisation. In my prior life sitting at a desk doing translation services for a large company, I did have that sad experience, and I know that it can be one of the most stressful times for everyone involved. Large product launches into the international market involve a lot of money, time, and effort, and every billable hour or real asset that gets added to the project just increases the need for it to succeed. That need chemically converts to stress, which rains down on everyone.
And I can say from direct experience that the easiest way to ruin everything, to blow your dates and your budget, is to plan the language translation portion of your project badly. And yet, I can also say from direct experience (you may be seeing why I am a freelancer now) that translation is one of the last things anyone thinks about, almost always causing a panic right down to the wire. Here’s how you can avoid that scenario.
One: Plan Ahead
The moment you know that your product will be launching in foreign markets, get your translation team assembled. Too often I’ve seen managers wait until literally everything else was done to call in the translators, as if we carry magic wands around and can just wave them a few times, speak some arcane words, and boom! Everything translated. Translators can help advise you from the very beginning, from word and vocabulary choices to layout and formatting issues. They can even advise on cultural aspects of your target market you might not be aware of.
Two: Think Globally
Another huge mistake is not ensuring that a culture-neutral approach is taken. If your marketing and documentation is going to be translated into other languages and cultures, the less of a footprint your own culture has on the language used, the easier the translation work will. Easier equals cheaper and faster, which should appeal to any manager of any aspect of the project, I would think.
Three: Get Feedback
As document requirements are drafted, bring them to the translation team. We can tell you how long it will take to work on that component, and flag any aspects of the writing that we think might be problematic from our point of view. This gives us either a chance to re-draft, or at the very least gives the translators time to come up with a strategy for dealing with the problem. Either way, by bringing in the translators early in the process you save yourself a lot of time and a lot of trouble.
I often joke that if translation professionals were brought it at early stages of every project all over the world, things would go a lot smoother. The fact is, this is only half a joke – and if you’re launching a product internationally, it’s not a joke at all!