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Why sprints are good? The Magnificent Seven from a Localization perspective

Why sprints are good? The Magnificent Seven from a Localization perspective

Nowadays we live in a world of speed. We want everything faster, better and we want it now! We can order something in Amazon and we can receive it in a few hours. We lost our patience. We want rapid solutions, without of course compromising the quality. Faster, better, cheaper are the words that it comes to my mind when I think about how I see the world in this 2017 ….

And what does it mean for our industry? for Localization?

It means also faster, better and I guess cheaper. This concept brings me to the topic of my weekly post. Localization teams are adopting Agile methodologies to respond to a hyper connected fast world. I can see among some colleagues some nostalgia from the waterfall days …

In my opinion Agile Localization and the introduction of localization sprints is a very good approach for Localization teams. In the following paragraphs, I will summarise why sprints are good for localization.

My exposure to the Agile movement is kind of new. I started to work with Agile teams in 2014. However during these 3 years I fell in love with all this world of post-it and boards :)

In product development, a sprint is a set period of time during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review.
Each sprint begins with a planning meeting. During the meeting, the product owner and the development team agree upon exactly what work will be accomplished during the sprint. The development team has the final say when it comes to determining how much work can realistically be accomplished during the sprint, and the product owner has the final say on what criteria need to be met for the work to be approved and accepted.
— Source: Search Software Quality

Please find below my 7 favourite reasons about why sprints are good for Localization teams.

Let me introduce you to my 7 Magnificent favourites in sprints Localization

1.   Scheduling. I know when I will receive Localization requests! Yay! Sometimes when I talked to other colleagues in the industry there’s a misconception that Agile means chaos, that you might get a localization request in any minute. But to be honest I see it the other way around.

In the latest projects I’ve been involved, I setup a framework to receive localization requests same day in same time slot. The frequency is up to the stakeholders. They decide that and we adapt to their decission. Some of them they feel ok with a weekly handoff while others they need a higher frequency. That’s fine with me and this approach has been working quite nicely in the last years. This allowed me to book translators easily because I know when I’ll receive some content to be translated. Agile in this sense has helped to deal with this uncertainty in a very solid way. I know when I’ll receive Localization requests and I can allocate resources for these requests.

Of course, there will be still some situations with last minute request and last minute changes (please check HERE my post about how to handle these requests) but what I found is that the number of requests is not as high as I might expect. This has helped me enormously to have less bottlenecks and a regular team of translators (which is crucial to be consistent in the style)

2.   Know-how. When I know that I’ll be working in a new project for a few months and that I will get requests every week.... I feel confident that little by little I will learn how to use the tools needed; and I know that I will understand the processes. And the reason why I feel so confident is because I’m going to use them every week.

In Agile is not expected to be everything perfect in each sprint. The concept of MVP is quite popular, and this means that if I don’t know all the processes or all the steps this week it’s fine! because I can keep polishing my skills and know-how this week, and the week after …and the week after. I’m in continuous learning process and this is great to improve my learning curve. In the past, following the traditional waterfall approach, I used to feel overwhelmed for the amount of info, I need to process at the beginning of the projects. And sometimes, that info was in the end not useful at all. It was related to requirements that in the end they were not implemented, but since it was in the initial planning, I had to deal with them anyway, and I had to learn about them as if it they were real. In Agile this does not happen. I just need to learn what it’ll be released.

3.   Continuous Localization Testing. Now my work is more focus on the mobile environments. And in this environment, I feel as happy as Homer Simpson would feel working as donuts tester. Because when you work in Localization Sprints if a bug is missed, if a typo is there or a wrong term is used …. this is not the end of the world! We just fix the mistake and if it was a serious bug we just submit a hotfix to the Appstore/PlayStore … and if it’s a bug but not that urgent …in that case we can wait to the next build submission and the bug will be solved. For me this is priceless. In the past I was always concerned about missing bugs or missing localization issues. I’m not exaggerating if I tell you that I had dreams where someone was coming to me to ask me why we did miss that bug …. It’s not that I’m not concerned anymore, but I know that if for whatever reason we miss a bug, there will a new sprint soon that it will give us the chance to fix it.

4.   We increase the feeling of being part of THE TEAM. This is quite important for me because working in sprint mode gives us plenty of opportunities to interact with other team members in dev teams or support functions.

This helps enormously to build trust and create a wider network. Having localization present in the sprint planning meetings it’s a great way to make feel localization team part of the company strategy.

 Agile provides multiple opportunities for stakeholder and team engagement. We can do it before (planning), during (execution), and after each sprint (retrospectives). Delivering localization pieces early and frequently increases stakeholders’ trust in the Localization team ability to contribute to the success of the project itself. It allows us everyone to be more deeply connected in the project and during longer phases. In waterfall, there was a disconnection at some phases … but here every new sprint is a new opportunity to keep increasing this feeling of being part of THE TEAM.

5.   We get localization feedback throughout the lifecycle. What happens if we have to translate the tutorial of a game and we do realize through our analytics and surveys that our players don’t understand the instructions? It might be that the English copy is not clear, it might be that the localization in a specific language is not clear …. or it might be that the design of the game mode is not clear! Whatever the reason is ... no dramas here! In the next sprint, we can fix it!! We can write a clear English copy, or we can meet to brief our translators to ensure they understand the functionality they are translating in that tutorial … Sprints give us to Localization teams many opportunities for continuous improvements

6.   Style guide and glossary creation. Sprints are great opportunities to build a termbase (or Googledoc or whatever you use :) to collect key terms and recommend changes to source content. It also enables Localization team to define the style to be used during the translation phase. I’m so happy for being able to use the first sprint cycles towards creating a comprehensive and accurate glossary and style guide documents ….

7.   Risk Management facilitation. What if we start working with a translator and the quality is not the quality that we were expecting? Every sprint will give us an opportunity to work with localization partners to align expectations. We can give feedback about parts of the project that are not going as we expected. We can work together to sync expectations … and eventually if this sync and alignment is not working we can switch vendors, and we can do this before all the content is translated … because we know that every sprint .... we will have new content to translate. Therefore, from a risk management perspective sprints are very handy to ensure with our partners that we are getting the service that we expect.


What do you think about above the Seven Magnificent listed above? I do believe that after all agile is a “state of mind”. But in my opinion, sprints brought some fresh air to the Localization industry, a blizzard of fresh air that it was much needed.

Please comment this post if you have other Magnificent that it’s helping you in your Localization endeavours!! I would be happy to share thoughts about which other benefits you found adopting a sprint model in your Localization programs.

Have a great day!


This translation is terrible! Everyone seems authorized to criticize our Localization efforts

This translation is terrible! Everyone seems authorized to criticize our Localization efforts

To translate internally or to outsource ... that is the question.

To translate internally or to outsource ... that is the question.