What Does A Localization Manager Do?

As a localization professional, people often ask what a localization manager typically does. In addition to knowing what issues to be aware of, its also good to understand what an in house localization manager does.

The localization manager, simply put, is your company’s primary go to person for anything related to localization (making your company, and its products and services accessible in other languages). This is a cross functional role, and is best thought of as a vendor within your company, not unlike the IT department, which serves everyone in the company.

In a typical scenario, the localization manager will serve several departments in the organization, and may involve a combination of technical and non-technical roles. Technical tasks will include things like:

  • Configuring and maintaining the translation management system (a repository for all of the assets being translated).
  • Refactoring software for multilingual operation, or training in house developers to do the same (see this cheat sheet for software developers).
  • Software quality assurance and testing (for software and web service providers).

Meanwhile, the localization manager will also be responsible for less technical tasks, which may include likes like:

  • Market analysis to determine which languages offer the best forecast ROI, or to measure performance in existing languages (in terms of cost of customer acquisition, revenue, churn, etc).
  • Selecting and managing external vendors such as language service providers (most translation work is done by agencies).
  • Providing general advice and guidance to management and staff on issues related to localization (tip: give bilingual candidates preference in your hiring process, to build up language support within your organization).

In larger companies, especially multinational firms, this is typically a full-time role, and may require an entire department. For most companies, there probably is not enough work to keep a full-time person busy, but just as you can outsource functions like bookkeeping, you can do the same thing with localization and hire a fraction of a full-time equivalent.

One important piece of advice is to make sure you have a person responsible for localization who works independently of the various agencies and service providers you are likely to utilize. It is common to use multiple vendors, as they each tend to be expert in specific areas (for example, some companies focus on software localization, while others focus on document translation, very different skill sets). An impartial localization manager can help you source the best vendors for your needs.

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