Forward Business Flow and Reverse Talent Flow -
Some Thoughts on Business and Resources of the Localization Production Chain
Software localization is a business activity in which a software product is processed according to the needs of specific countries (regions) or language market, so it can adapt to the language and cultural norms of users in a specific market. Software translation is a process in which the characters on software interface, documents, manuals and so on are converted from the initial language into the local language. Translation is only one of the steps in software localization. Apart from translation, software localization also involves engineering, testing, desktop publishing, and other operating segments. It has gradually evolved into a systematic project that does not only deal with language translation, but also processing in a larger scope with various contents.
The interlinking flow of operation in the localization industry has rendered the related projects periodicity, complexity and diversity. These features require all the relevant upstream and downstream companies to forge a cooperative relationship. In the process provide services for direct customers (or end customers), occurrence of outsourcing and secondary subcontracting is possible, i.e. when large or professional companies have successfully negotiated first-hand complete localization projects from their customers, based on considerations of the internal management and resource use strategies, they may outsource different parts of the projects to other downstream companies in the production chain for commencement, which forms a coexistent and win-win production chain structure in the localization industry.
For individual companies in each segment of the production chain, a full analysis of the companies’ own resources, capacities and experiences, and comprehensive grasp of the their business focuses are suggested in order to perform a good job in the business, which represents the core philosophy and positioning of the company as part of the production chain
For instance, the company that has engaged in localization translation may position itself in the field of translation. However, information within the localization industry can easily be shared. Customers from the upstream would inevitably know about the information about the company having engaged in a particular translation project, and may ask whether they are willing to accept related localization business offers directly. In this regard, as a translation company, how to deal with that and whether to take such translation business or not may cause a great dilemma.
Based on my seven year’s of managerial experience in the translation industry, I believe the translation company at this time should adhere to the principle of forward business flow, and take the following measures:
l To provide a technical description to customers: as a translation company, its own resources and capacity are limited to the translation of the localization project and it has no resources, equipment and capacity to handle the entire project;
l To provide a business description to customers: because the company itself and its upstream customers (localization companies) are bound by relevant commercial agreements, based on the principle of honesty in operation, it cannot skip the upstream customers to contact direct customers for relevant projects;
l Based on these two descriptions, the company could refer customers to other senior professional localization companies, and suggest customers still contact these professional companies for localization business handling.
The above thoughts are recommended to the relevant companies in the production chain downstream for active attempt. This approach through business forward flow, on one hand, may set up an operation framework for related companies in the production chain, and on the other, maintain an order in the industry so as to guarantee a healthy, orderly and fine fashion of operation.
Due to the peculiar features of localization business, companies dealing with localization business in the upstream, when compared to companies only dealing with translations, would need more professional talents with certain level of expertise and experience. However, when glancing over the localization companies in Beijing and Shanghai (no matter large or small ones), all share similar concerns about talents within the industry - talents are not easy to be discovered, cultivated and retained, with the latter two being more widespread and serious. Within the localization production chain, there is a universal phenomenon of active and passive talent switch. In various enterprises, a training-is-no-better-than-poaching atmosphere has even been generated.
I believe the above phenomenon attributes to two reasons:
l Intrinsic: talented individuals have their own career planning and after the accumulation of certain knowledge, skills and experience, they have the initiative to find better jobs and enterprises in order to exert their talents;
l Extrinsic: in response to talented individuals personal planning, enterprises also need to keep the inflow of talents in order to adapt to their own business development plans.
In view of the above phenomena and causes, attempts to adopt the strategy of reverse talent flow while promoting the idea of forward business flow is suggested. In other words, translation professionals could flow to localization companies, while talents in localization companies could flow to upstream direct customers.
For instance, translation companies, in the process of career planning for their staff, could recommend them to upstream client companies in accordance with the wishes of individual staff in addition to the provision of pay raise, job promotion and recommendation for further education. A staff member who has engaged in translation work for more than three years could grow into an editor, a QA, or a PM in a translation company. After the expiration of his or her employment contract, instead of a contract renewal with the same company, the company could consider positively recommending him or her who might have intention to quit or leave to an affiliated upstream company (the localization company) upon obtaining his or her consent, so as to offer the staff member more choices. From the upstream company's point of view, they should also welcome those talented individuals with relevant experience to join the company.
In a nutshell, a forward business flow and a guaranteed and reasonable flow and layout of resources with a reverse talent flow are the key to ensure good operation of the production chain and sound development of the localization industry in the attempt of overcoming the future challenges.
(Mr Harold Gu, Jiangsu General Information Technology Co., Ltd.)