Localization Maturity Model - the compass in our Localization journey
The sense of progress is addictive.
We start learning a new language and that feeling of knowing every week new words is great.
We start weight lifting and that feeling of adding 1 kg in the dumbbell every week it is powerful.
We start taking golf classes and the first day we go over the 200m flag we want to kiss our driver club 😃
Progress is addictive, and somehow is what it gives value to any activity we initiate. If I initiate a diet I want to see that every week I’m winning the battle to the bathroom scale. Otherwise, how can we keep the long term motivation?
Now, when it comes to G-localization industry:
-How do we know how our Localization strategy is progressing?
-How do we know if we are heading in the right direction?
- How do we know that our efforts to evangelize our different stakeholders about the benefits of preparing their software, web page, app or game is worth it?
Sure, we can get some KPIs to measure the quality, KPIs such as #unstranslated keys, UI truncations or inconsistencies to name some … but somehow, what we are measuring there.... it is the output. We are measuring how buggy and how polish (or un-polish) our product is .. but we are not really assessing the progress of our Localization strategy.
Peter Drucker, one of my favorite book writers explained that “If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it”
And once again the great Drucker was right …..everything can be measured, and in our Localization industry, there’s also a standard to audit how mature (or in-mature) our Localization process is.
Please, welcome the Localization Maturity Model (LMM) model!! The model that it will guide us while setting a world-class Localization strategy! whoo-hoo!!!!
😃LMM is quite unknown in our industry, even for people working in the industry, but this process is not a new kid on the block. First references of LMM are coming from a decade ago. The great team at CSA documented the process of Localization Maturity Model in 2006 …. and recently CSA present an evolution of the LMM, the version 3.0. I find this model particularly interesting because reactive levels are well documented and it’s full of advice.In my opinion, the LMM model requires a well-deserved analysis. For this reason, I will divide my LMM model review into several posts.I try to limit my posts to 1000 words (around) 😃. This model deserves more attention from my side so without further do….. let me present you the LMM the model. The ultimate model to benchmark our localization matureness strategy.😃
I will cover the model from the worst stage to the most optimum one, just to ensure I finish this post in a positive and optimist way
There are 9 phases in this LMM 3.0 model. I’ll explain this model (hopefully) in an easy language to understand; even for those not very familiar with setting up a Localization strategy program in a company.
The 9 processes
What’s the meaning of each phase? Let’s get ready to rumble!
Level - 3 Discouraging – My life is very... complex
In this level feeling towards localization are very negative. There’s no will at all to even discuss the benefits of implementing a localization strategy within a company?
Level - 2 Scornful – Is it Localization really necessary? I tried this before and it was a mess!
This phase usually means stakeholders were engaged in the past with Localization efforts and the outcome it was not as expected. This could be for a number of reasons, lack of proper localization tools, lack of proper localization strategy, poor translation quality or even a ROI not as good as expected. Stakeholders in this phase feel that implementing any localization processes is futile.
Level - 1 Obstructive – Guys, why don’t we better allocate the “translation” budget to improve the functionality of our app?
Stakeholders who might be in this category usually are facing budget restrictions. It’s not that they are anti-localization. It’s just every expense needs to be carefully analysed. And in this sense Localization is often an afterthought activity. This is the level that a young start-up might be in their early phases.
Level 0 Negligent - Why do we to “translate” our software? Everyone speaks (or should) English in the WORLD! This is unnecessary!
Stakeholders being product owners don’t understand the need of bringing their product in the local language to local consumers. This might come from a limited vision of how diverse the world is or how the habit of consumers varies from country to country.
Level 1 - Reactive – The App of our main competitor is in the Top 5 in Russia! Let’s translate it into Russian over the weekend to share the pie!
In this level, we are willing to invest in Localization, but unfortunately, it’s a very random approach. Tasks are done as they need to be done, but it’s not very clear who does what and why. There’s a goodwill to start considering Localization as plan of the company strategy, but that’s is, only good will, because there aren’t proper plans or strategies in place.
Level 2 – Repeteable – Oh yes! I remember last year we used a database to sort and store “the words” of our app.
In this level, the number 2, Localization is starting the journey using a compass to find the right road. In this phase, we are planting the seeds of a basic localization structure. Some project management activities, some processes to track budgets and some support from different stakeholders, i.e engineers or external translators.
Level 3 – Managed – I'm starting to get the hang of this!!!
Companies or localization departments are taking the control when they hit the level 3 in the LMM. There are localization processes in place, documents used and localization vendors are involved in the localization strategy.
Level 4 -Optimized – I’m sexy and I know it!
Companies in level 4 recognize the importance of Localization in the overall strategy of the company. In this level Localization roles are clear, there are Localization tools to support the localization efforts and processes are followed
Level 5.- Transparent – I am gonna show you how great I am!
This is the highest level in the LMM, not many companies with a localization team reach this level. The reason for this is that Localization needs to be implemented as a Globalization team rather than Localization (see here a post where I talked about what it means being a Globalization team)In this level, localization is an integral part of the company and all products and release planning is based on it. Also, Localization has an important signoff role in the different phases of development. If you recognize this pattern in your company, my most sincere congratulations! I feel you, I know how much you had to fight and suffer to bring Localization activities to level 5.
I do hope you found the explanation of this model informative and easy to follow.
Next week I will cover in my weekly post how to define a localization strategy to bring a company from the reactive levels to the levels where Localization efforts start to be optimized. Stay tuned next week post! and I’ll share with you some tips to help advance faster in the ladder of LMM. Talk to you soon! meanwhile .. have a fantastic w-end!