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Translation Planning cover

In a previous blog, When You Need Translation Services, Where Do You Start? we talked a lot about aligning corporate strategy, marketing strategy and multilingual marketing strategies for a successful translation project outcome. This is a great place to start, but to really succeed in a new, non-English speaking market, you can take your company’s process further.

The Localization Maturity Model - LMM

CommonSense Advisory is a research and consulting company that specializes in the language services industry.  They provide research and insight into pricing, technology, quality strategies, industry trends and more.  They developed something called the Localization Maturity Model.  The LMM defines a continuum of stages companies progress through as they refine their process for providing translated materials to attract and delight customers. The stages range from reactionary to becoming a truly global organization that embraces the value of languages and cultures.

Knowing where in the model your company falls gives insight as to the best way to proceed to support your multilingual communications and strategize on how to improve upon current practices.

By implementing processes to help move your company up through the stages of the LMM toward the ideal of “Transparent”, you’ll improve efficiency, save time, save money and improve outcomes and experiences.

Translation and Localization LMM Stages

Let’s define the stages along the LMM from 1 through 5.


1 Reactive – Companies in this stage are new to providing translated materials to attract or retain customers. They respond to demands and have no formal process for obtaining translation services. Typically, companies in this stage have no process, little experience and don’t have a person or team that owns translation. Each person seeks and manages translation individually rather than having a company process.

2 Repeatable – Companies in this stage have some translated materials and have created basic process for project management. They are starting to track costs and may have someone who is the go-to person for translation services who has a repeatable process they follow

3 Managed – Companies in this stage have a centralized multilingual communications process. The focus is optimization and automation of the process. These companies have a dedicated team that tracks metrics. They are more sophisticated in their use of language service providers (LSP) and technologies to increase ROI.

4 Optimized – Companies in this stage more closely track and measure quality. They partner with an external LSP and use technology to decrease turnaround time and costs. The approach is more scientific and they follow a Translation Management Plan to define and continually improve the translation process. Metrics tracked and integrated with company goals to help measure success and identify areas for improvement.

5 Transparent – Companies in this stage make translation and localization an integral part of the organization’s strategy and process. Focus is on management of the process and continuous review for ways to improve outcomes. These companies have an organization-wide process that is known and available to all departments and is an integral part of the company’s annual strategies and goals.

Where Does Your Company Fall?

When you call Rapport International, we determine where on the LMM your company currently falls and suggest strategies for how you can move toward a more repeatable, integrated process to support your translation goals.

Some companies are fine to stay at “Reactive.” They have infrequent translation needs and don’t need a proactive approach. Typically, these companies are not marketing goods and services to non-English speakers. They may be law firms that need to communicate with a client who can’t speak English, or a school that needs to send a letter home to a family that has limited English proficiency.

Why Move Up the LMM Scale?

Companies seeking to market goods or services to non-English speakers can look at translation services as a strategy for increasing sales both domestically and across the world.

Did you know that the United States has the second highest Spanish speaking population in the world? Mexico is #1. Hispanics are projected to account for over 50% of the U.S. population growth over the next 40 years. That’s a large, growing number of consumers that prefer to buy products and services that advertise and provide materials in their native language. Looking beyond the U.S. there are 3.5 billion internet users who are potential customers! That’s a HUGE opportunity for growth.

We’ve covered this a lot in our blog. You can learn more by reading our blogs or watching our videos:

Read a case study about how Rotary International progressed up the LMM scale to "Transparent" and optimized their global communications.

You Want to Tap into This World of Opportunities – Now What?

No matter where a company falls on the LMM scale, we recommend starting there and developing a vision with what you want to achieve with your translation process.   

The path up the LMM is not always linear. Having a plan and a vision, as well as high-quality LSP as your partner, will help you keep moving along the path, and will give you support when you meet obstacles and challenges along the way.


Once we help a client define where on the LMM they are and where they want to go, we then recommend they develop a Translation Management Plan (TMP) to give structure to the process. 

A well-defined TMP can help guide you along the Localization Maturity Model scale, so you aren’t always in reactionary mode when you need translation.

What is a Translation Management Plan?

The four key components to a successful Translation Management Plan are Strategy, Technology, Process and Quality.  If you continually monitor the cycle, you are able to make improvements for efficiency, effectiveness and cost savings – which leads to greater success. 


Let’s take a deeper look at the four components.

Develop a Translation Strategy

The best place to start is with your company Strategy – read more in our blog Expanding into Multilingual Markets Requires a Strategy.

By aligning your multilingual marketing goals and getting buy-in from your company’s leaders, you’ll increase your opportunities for success.

Let’s say your company decides to enter Germany and Spain as new markets and you have management’s support. Your translation strategy would include translating materials for these markets, a project plan and goals and metrics for measuring success.

When you work with Rapport International, we will partner with you to provide support for your TMP strategy:

  • Aligning your translation strategy with corporate and marketing strategy
  • Consult on project launch planning – a good plan sets clear direction and expectations
  • Document management and version control advice – keeping versions and files organized makes it easier to reuse translations later to save time and money
  • Establish goals and reporting requirements – measurable metrics help calculate successes and places for improvement
  • Post-project review for improvement – your satisfaction leads to a long-term relationship

Translation Technology Options

Next you consider the Technology needed to meet the strategic objectives.  Some questions you need to ask include

  • Is machine technology high enough quality for your needs?
  • Will translation memory be useful?
  • How do you want to transfer content?
  • Will you have multiple requests for translation that would benefit from automation?
  • What do you struggle with in the process?

Your professional LSP partner will provide:

  • Translation memory (TM) development – to save time and keep a consistent voice, a TM saves translated wording to leverage already completed translations whenever possible
  • Automation suggestions and implementation – to help save you time and money
  • Formatting documents for ease of use – included in the project plan, establish the format of documents to be sent to the LSP and the desired format delivered back to you
  • Portal for real-time project management – a secure, online program to send, receive and manage projects
  • API connectors where applicable for process improvements – to automate processes and save time

AI-driven translation debuted in early 2023. Read about its early benefits and dangers, and the future of the technology within the industry, here: AI and Language Services: Will AI Translation Eliminate the Need for Human Translators?


Translation Process

Once the strategy and goals are defined and you have decided what technology will make things easier, it’s time to develop a process.

The process needs to align with the company strategy and be clear for the person managing it.  The key parts of the process include the following:

  1. Who will do the translation? It could be internal employees, distributors or a translation agency. You must understand the quality risks and hidden costs if you chose employees or distributors.  Read more about the pitfalls of using these options when doing translation in our blogs - Can Your Employee Do Your Translations?  and Can Your Distributor Do Your Translation? 
  2. What is the project management process? This might include document management, version control, and how you will leverage already translated materials.
Working with your LSP to develop an integrated process can simplify your internal flow.  Your LSP can provide:
File analysis – prior to starting any project, they’ll analyze the documents for translation memory usage to leverage already translated segments
File preparation & customized delivery – ensuring the files sent are in a clean usable format to the translator, and then back to you
Dedicated project manager – working with one person who understands your business keeps it easier for you to get work done
Project management process – defining all the steps and details so questions don’t arise later
Reference material and training for translators – delivering these materials to the translator give you clarity and quality, as they get to know you and your voice
  1. Where will you store your translations for company access? Will you, your translator or translation agency store them? You’ll want them organized, accessible and secure.
  2. What is your budget and how will this be tracked? Sticking to a budget and tracking results will support the value of translation to management.
  3. What will be translated? Your company strategy will guide the materials.  The most important content to translate is the high value, biggest return content that can be reused.
  4. When and how will requests be made? When this is built into the project, it avoids rush fees for last minute translations.

Getting High-Quality Translations

If you are still reading, you probably know that machine translation is not good enough quality for your needs.  And, you want to understand how you can verify the quality of your translations, as this is key for successful communications.  A gist translation from machine translation tools such a Google Translate may be fine for reading an unsolicited email, yet important communications or marketing materials from your company need to be localized and adapted for each market to make sure the message, service delivery and accuracy are maintained.

If you still wonder about machine translation meeting your needs, read more about Google Translate in our blogs Google Translate is the “Gateway Drug” for Translation  and Why NOT to Use the Google Translate Plug-In on Your Website.

Quality can be daunting when it comes to translation. How do you know it’s good if you don’t speak the language? There are ways to ensure a high-quality translation. Read the 10 Traits of a High-Quality Translation and 10 Biggest Problems When Doing Translation.

If you’re working with a professional translation company, they should deliver high quality services by providing:

  • A quality guarantee – and a liability insurance policy to back it up
  • Linguist matchmaking – a dedicated translator in each language for consistent voice. The best translations come when your LSP matches a translator in each language for continuity across all your projects. The translator develops a deep understanding of your needs and provides a consistent voice on all your translations
  • Glossary development to maintain consistency – for key words, industry specialty terminology, unique descriptors, word preferences, and more
  • Cultural adaptation – when a message is culturally significant or difficult to translate, the translator will bridge the cultural communication for clarity
  • Style guide development – when you have preferences, your dedicated project manager captures your preferences for future use
  • Language review and proofreading – a well-defined quality review process for every project (read more about QA in our blog Back Translations and Other Quality Assurance Processes 
  • Confidential and secure – all employees, translators and people involved know the importance of confidentiality and keep all information secure
  • Retain ownership – your materials and translations are yours and you should retain all ownership

If you want a checklist to assess the quality of your translations, read this blog Assessing The Quality Of Translations - A Checklist.

Now that we delved through the essential parts of a Translation Management Plan, here’s a graph with the key points for your reference:


How Much Does Translation Cost? FIND OUT!

Implementation of the Translation Management Plan

Once you’ve established criteria and guidance for the Translation Management Process, challenges and questions inevitably arise. Maybe you need to justify budget items for translation, or maybe you suddenly get a request from a new market that was not part of this year’s plan. If you’ve taken the time to define your plan and are continually reviewing and refining it, you should be able to address what pops up.

Key things to remember when trying to move up the LMM and implement a TMP:

  • Follow the plan and make adjustments as necessary
  • Assign a person or team to “own” translation and oversee the plan and make them accountable to results
  • Measure results and keep moving forward
  • Replicate the plan or add to it when you want to target a new audience or country
  • Find a language service provider that will partner with you and be invested in your success as part of your relationship. Long-term partnerships result in higher success

Working with Rapport International

We have a unique process. At Rapport International we subscribe to the philosophy that a successful multilingual communications strategy functions like a “well-oiled engine”. To keep our “engine” spinning, we’ve created the Multilingual Flywheel to visually depict the layers of the “engine” and how they fuel each other.

If you don’t know, a flywheel is defined as a “wheel that stores kinetic energy and smooths the operation of a reciprocating engine.”

Our flywheel centers around getting to know your business and goals then building a Translation Management Plan that is customized to you. Working from the center out, we collaborate with you, addressing each layer to build momentum and get the “engine” running with the appropriate services, in the most cost-effective way.

Once spinning, we continue to act as your multilingual communications partner to address any friction that may arise that could slow down the spin of the flywheel. As our relationship grows, we continually monitor and cultivate each segment of each layer to help speed the momentum as goals evolve.




Spinning the Flywheel

The steps we follow to gain momentum on the Multilingual Communications Flywheel are as follows:

  1. Multilingual Communications (center) – By getting to know you and your company we help you develop a translation strategy that aligns with your corporate goals and the company’s communications strategy.
  2. Build a Translation Management Plan (dark gray layer) – Working through the steps described above we’ll work with you to create a plan to meet your needs and remove your pain points.
  3. Who are You Communicating With (green layer) – Do you need to attract and retain customers? Speak to non-English speaking employees? Work with foreign partners? By defining your audience, the buyer’s journey, target personas, etc. we help you make sure all communications are appropriate and relevant.
  4. What Needs to be Translated (light gray layer) – Now that we know who you’re communicating with, we recommend what needs to be translated, and what does not need to be translated, so that you don’t lose time or money translating something that isn’t necessary.
  5. Keep the Engine Spinning – We help you implement a process to repeat the cycle for each language or target market and keep it spinning smoothly with continual adjustments and improvements.

When you want to connect with your audience, Rapport International provides high quality, human translations and interpretations that come with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.  We have over 30 years of experience and many of our clients have been with us from the start. This is a testament to our commitment to delivering top-quality service, but also to superior customer relationships. To get a better understanding of what we do, read our blog What Does a Language Company Do?

Contact us today for a free project consultation to give you advice, help you see where your process currently falls, and where it could be with a well-defined plan.

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Categories: Project Planning & Management, Quality, Multilingual Growth


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