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You’re Building a Localization Team. Who Do You Hire First?

You’ve reached the point where your business needs to communicate with audiences in multiple countries and languages. It’s time to start putting together a strong and multi-talented team to make sure your localization is efficient and effective. How should you build your localization team? Who should be on it? How will you get those people to come on board, and how will you ultimately structure it? Keep reading to find out!

Localization requires a variety of specialized skills. It can also involve fluctuating work volumes, tight deadlines, and decentralized locations. With that in mind, start by asking yourself who your team should consist of.

Get the right people together, and results will follow.

We’ve divided the roles you need on your team into  three basic types:

The Visionary. The linchpin, the glue, the mustard on the sandwich. This is your localization project manager, and they exist to hold the whole project together and make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. A good localization manager manages the process from start to finish, gets the best out of the team, keeps expectations in check, and delivers projects on time, every time. Don’t hire one (or hire the wrong one) and you can expect missed deadlines, lost projects, and a disgruntled team.

The Creatives. This is your marketing/content team, and they’ll play a massive part in localizing your content – after all, they’ve created it and are currently managing new content and updates. What you’ll need to remember above all else is that no two content or marketing teams look the same. Some have multiple writers and editors, while others only have one writer and an editor/publisher/outreach specialist. Some have an entire team of technical SEO specialists, while others depend on back-end SEO from one web developer. Your content department may even simply be a single marketing manager who works with an outside agency to build content. It depends on your needs and the direction you see your business going.

The Specialists. These individuals are the backbone of the whole enterprise, but their diverse skills make them hard to classify under one umbrella. They’ll usually consist of the following:

  • Since it’s very unlikely that you’ll have a team of translators within your company, this will be an outsourced role and an area where a localization tool will help in your workflow.
  • There’s no getting around it – if you’re doing localization the traditional way, you’ll need a team of developers to actually upload your newly translated website or app and make sure it works. They can also help you decide whether or not it’s worth your time to create multiple versions for multiple languages.
  • Web designers. Because of cultural sensitivity and other issues, the look and feel of your materials is likely to change for different markets. That means you’ll want to get your designer(s) involved as soon as possible.
  • QA/Reviewers. No localization project is ever done until the quality of the translations is checked and everything works perfectly in the new markets you’re targeting. Remember, it’s always better to get a second translator for QA that wasn’t part of the original translation team.

Assembling the team

If, as has often been said, the number one job of a leader is to hire and retain talent, here are a few tips that should help you put your “dream team” together.

Go in with a list of people you want to hire. Read a good blog post lately? Been impressed by a keynote speaker at a conference? Enjoyed someone’s appearance on a podcast? Get in touch with that individual and see what their career goals are.

Don’t settle for less than the best. If your company is growing fast, you’ll no doubt feel the pressure to hire someone, ANYONE, to fill certain roles right away, even if it means rolling the dice on people you’re not entirely sold on. It’s never a good idea for anyone involved. Cleaning up the mess left behind by a hasty, poorly qualified hire is expensive and impacts the entire team negatively.

Stay flexible. The people you want to hire aren’t always able to be based where you have an office and will probably enjoy having flexibility in the location they work from. Having the option to work remotely is now seen as a requirement by most employees, so use it wisely.

If your goal is to build a successful localization team, we hope this article has given you a solid jumping-off point. To learn more about localization and what it entails, have a look at our resources or get in touch with us.

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