As I sit at my laptop pouring over financial reports, customer profiles, team structures and ultimately a strategy to define 2015, I imagine that there are many other organisations going through the same process, number-crunching and excel file-overload ‘fun’ – and if not, then they should be – particularly, if that strategy involves the concept of ‘international’, or language, in any way.
And it isn’t just my strategy, figures and structures that I need to consider. I need to ensure that Operations fit into this plan aswell. If sales grow, how does that affect the project management team?
What do we need marketing to do, to help sales grow? How does revenue growth affect overheads, such as travel and technology maintenance across the whole business? The list goes on and on. I only have the UK and US to consider for now, but how complex could this web of interconnectivity become if we add localisation into the mix?
An integrated strategy is paramount for any organisation to perform well. If the CEO has the objective of ‘grow international sales by 25%’, how is that going to be achieved? – And to dispel the myth, it isn’t merely a task for, or the responsibility of, the sales team alone.
For example, there is the obvious requirement for an international website, where there needs to be input into such a project from IT, Marketing, eCommerce (if applicable), Operations, Logistics, Legal and Finance to assess the objective, and then define the strategy, requirements and process – and therefore budgets! To have several offices around the world, you need to ensure that there is money available for the HR and Internal Comms teams to communicate with your global network of employees. Have Compliance Teams budgeted for new and updated Operating Procedures to be also updated across all language versions? Or have your legal teams prepared for the translations of legislative information for a target market? Ultimately, does your company understand the true cost of introducing language into its operation?
When I refer to true cost, the above example demonstrates that it is not merely a case of paying a Language Service Provider to translate a piece of text on a webpage, but rather that there are many other costs that are often hidden or not budgeted for.
Do you have or need people to review the translation? Do they know how to do this, and can you keep them busy as an employee just doing this, or are you adding to someone else’s workload meaning the correct emphasis and priority on the task is lost?
What is the cost to the business of developing and maintaining a multilingual eCommerce platform from a technology and personnel perspective? How much time (and potential revenue) is lost in launching a new product due to tardiness in the delivery of a translation – or have you forgotten that translation requires time and so your new product is just sat waiting to be shipped whilst the User Manual is translated into French?
Have you factored in risk management? What if you select the cheapest supplier and then a poor quality translation leads to a PR nightmare?
Very quickly it is obvious to see that language and internationalisation affects an entire cross section of a business, with each department needing to add internationalisation to their team structure and financial needs. Trying to communicate with the world is a whole lot smoother if you communicate your objective, strategy, process and therefore requirements with everyone in the business, so that everyone can budget and structure to grow your international sales by 25%!