Agile Methodology: What It Is and How to Use It in Localization

June 9, 2022

There are many theories and methodologies for project management, in particular for localization. And agile is one of the best solutions to gain increasing popularity. Agile provides a framework that incorporates localization at the beginning of the project, allowing for adaptable management and seamless revision, thus avoiding delays in delivery. Scrutinizing localization at the beginning is a key best practice in expanding products globally. Many localization experts especially emphasize the important role of localization. So, you should think about it as an unavoidable part of the planning process rather than an afterthought. 

Read more: How is language connected to culture?

What is agile localization?

Agile is a methodology derived from software and product development. The ground-breaking project management approach adheres to four important values: 

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation 
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 
  • Responding to change over following a plan 

Agile localization is a set of practices to incorporate localization and translation into an agile product development cycle. In practical terms, agile methodology divides elements of a project into chunks that can be conducted at the same time. The project is supervised in short bursts, called sprints, where the team keeps close contact to ensure prompt responses to issues and the completion of each interval point. This modular approach contrasts with the traditional ‘Waterfall’ style of project management that uses a sequential methodology.  

In this way, the agile methodology enables you to create assets rapidly by working on small content chunks in short cycles. In addition to the speed of turnaround, this approach helps identify issues faster, incorporates changes flexibly, and reduces resources. 

One of the great benefits of agile is that it brings localization from the end of the project to the beginning. Each module is completed and translated independently from the others. So, if it’s required to change, they can be made to these smaller chunks of content promptly, rather than tackling the whole materials. What’s more, if multiple documents use the same content, translations can be reused, speeding up development.  

What are some agile localization best practices? 

Agile localization works best when the whole organization buys into the methodology when every member of the team develops their processes around the strategy and collaborates together. This may be difficult, but we’ve examined some of the best practice suggestions to help frame your approach. 

Involve localization from the beginning

Agile localization should start when the project starts. In the beginning. By planning localization early, so much time can be saved further down the line. Work together with your language services provider (LSP) to create a globalized content strategy that brings effective translation into the journey early. Ensure content is written with localization in mind, minimizing the use of colloquial language or region-specific terminology. 

Use a structured content management system

When you’re managing multiple, smaller chunks of content creation and approval, having full and constant visibility is crucial. That’s why a good CMS is indispensable. These content management systems bring out a structured and obvious workflow, where each chunk has its own lifecycle, allowing tracking of each chunk and interval separately, as well as the project as a whole.  

Develop an intelligent content strategy

Building up an intelligent content strategy is key to rolling out agile localization. Early planning can have your content factory running like a dream: 

  • Define how content can be broken into chunks and deliverables with modeling 
  • Identify which chunks of content can be reused, and how 
  • Determine where to apply metadata and the allowable values to include 
  • Create a workflow that allows teams to control content throughout its lifecycle 

Is agile localization right for regulated industries? 

The agile methodology requires a complete rework of teams and priorities, as well as an overhaul of processes and approvals. For any company, this is no easy task, let alone for highly regulated industries like financial services, legal, and life sciences.  

In addition, compliance and regulatory requirements may be too high an obstacle for many life sciences organizations, with uncertainty around changing processes and the risk of fines and reputational damage resulting from errors. 

However, with increasing costs and competition, large-scale changes may be what’s required to stay relevant. And the benefits of this methodology can actually improve the accuracy and delivery times of content, reducing approval times. 


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