Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!
Strong and talented project managers (PMs) form the foundation of successful language service providers (LSPs) being the go-to people for clients, suppliers and various internal departments. The function has evolved, where each PM is now seen as a strategic business partner, rather than a file-pusher, identifying opportunities to create efficiencies, streamline processes and improve customer and supplier experience. Project management is no longer a role focused purely on pushing files and systems, but rather on managing teams of people and encouraging open communication.
As Rachel Barakat, Enterprise Program Manager at Welocalize said: “The PM is like an orchestra maestro, leading a diverse team of translators, linguists, third-party reviewers, testing engineers, DTP operatives, translation automation developers, digital marketers and multimedia specialists. The result is a symphony of multilingual content that engages a global audience.”
The interface for clients & vendors
Any localisation project manager will be in contact with at least 10 and in some cases up to 50 different customers depending on the number of projects they are involved in and their scale. A key to success is their people management skills and their ability to build solid and long-lasting work relationships. Because PMs are the go-to contacts for enquiries about on-going projects, they represent an important component of the customer experience so precious to any successful business relationship.
Know your clients, know your industries
The localisation project manager has a great vantage point from which to learn more about the customers. Because they monitor, revise and advise on client-specific projects, this level of involvement enables them to build a deep knowledge of their client’s business, understanding their localisation pain points, strategic objectives and global growth plans.
On a product and internal knowledge level, PMs are often required to attend client product presentations and retail store immersion training to ensure they fully understand the product, the brand, and the experience that the client is looking to deliver. To create and develop the right local experience, you have to experience it yourself.
The localisation project manager needs to infiltrate their client’s industries, in order to maximise the value they add to the customer, the LSP and the projects. They must be able to speak their customer’s language so they can communicate efficiently with them, but also with their team of linguists. Knowing the industry means that PMs are greater at catching and correcting translation errors delivering higher quality projects. They also become more aware of peak production times and can address demand more efficiently.
Manage your linguists
Another part of the localisation project manager role is the management of their linguistic teams. This aspect brings up their team management skills and their ability to involve, engage and get the best out of their linguists to produce high-quality projects within demanding time frames. They also understand the great value that suppliers represent for the LSP, it would be naive to think of this relationship as little more than a supplier-customer relationship since it’s not just customers who can be your industry experts.
Impact on the business growth
Improving workflows and pushing technology progress
Because the localisation project manager is at the forefront of projects’ delivery, he has a better understanding of workflows and processes and how technology can improve them. Being able to critically examine potentially outdated workflows and application of technology demands a subtle skill set, comprising analysis, problem-solving and tact. Because project managers must keep up to date with the industry’s technological advancements, they are able to identify the potential use of new technologies in their daily activities and therefore push their implementation into their business leading to innovation and enhanced service delivery.
Enhancing internal collaboration
A PM will often be dealing with projects that require the assistance of other internal departments such as Sales, Marketing, Design and their impact on internal collaboration is a great deal and key to the smooth functioning of an LSP. The PM ensures the right talent and tools are aligned to different content types. From foreign filing and patent translation at the research and development stage, through to managing digital go-to-market strategies that require multilingual SEO and complex AdWords campaigns, a project manager must be nimble to navigate complexity.
It seems obvious, but the responsibility of a PM is to manage. The more they are able to manage and influence, the more trust other departments will have in their ability to make and execute decisions.