The impending system shifts unfolding with a worldwide pandemic promise to introduce new challenges and directions for enterprises and their localization organizations. As a localization leader or practitioner, early acknowledgment and focused planning around the challenges enable opportunities for successful localization transitions. These opportunities can become the pillars that best support your localization team’s current models and future success.  

Now is the time to build pillars for transition, change, and successes. These pillars are 

  • Learning  
  • Communication 
  • Resourcefulness 

Focus is the base for the pillars.


 Times of change are ideal for learning opportunities. 

  • Learn what your company is planning for change strategies or growth paths. Take those learnings and model similar approaches for your localization effort. 
  • Educate yourself and your team on latest best practices and trends in localization automation, content and business strategies. Talk and listen to colleagues at other companies and vendors.  Check out localization webinars and virtual gatherings.
  • Refresh your understanding of services, processes, and tools that your external partners and vendors offer and use. 
  • Avoid rush decisions. Learning about something does not equate to rushed decision making. 

Ratchet up your communication with internal and external teams, partners and customers. 

  • Go Deeper: Dig into what your colleagues and customers in other countries are saying. It’s a good time to reach out to them. Simple questions can get you great responses: What’s working/what’s not working? How has our company’s business changed in your region?
  • Have an honest conversation with your vendors/clients about changes that may be affecting the entire supply chain. Is this the right time to be doing RFPs? Are vendors seeing some reduction to their overall revenues?  Are your vendors then cutting their rates within their supply chains? This is an opportunity to develop a greater sense of trust and partnership with vendors.
  • Spend more time communicating with your team and your peers. Do pass downs as often as you can, sharing your strategy, direction, and approaches. Be explicit and detailed about shifts in strategies or priorities. Make sure your team and partners (both internal and external) understand and agree with your pivots.

Periods of change provide opportunities for each of us in localization to become more resourceful – in our thinking, our processes. Cultivating ingenuity can help us break through old boundaries. 

Examine and question your internal localization operations. How can we quickly simplify old, complex customized processes? Are our teams themselves optimized for updated localization objectives? Are there easier ways to integrate and use diverse tools, cloud or SaaS services with our localization ecosystems? Do we need to do more or less outsourcing?  These types of questions can lead to productive innovations for global products and practices.

If those conversations aren’t happening in your greater organization, take the lead. Lead by letting your organizations know that you understand that change is here, and you’re ready to align your team’s goals in a manner that supports your corporate direction.

Focus – the Base 

Developing a laser-sharp focus on current as well as future objectives and your team’s goals and successes is the base for all the previous pillars. Focus is a driver for managing change. It may require simplifying workflows and processes. Focus often reveals the need to produce different products and content. It can determine how you scale your operations and tasks up or down. In times of rapid change, simplifying and defining new goals and localization objectives becomes the focal standard.

Rapid adoption of company goals by localization is a key part of focus.

  • Make a concerted effort to learn how the company’s goals are changing. Understand the specific directions of the changes: shrinking/expanding markets;, new products; ways to address supply-chain challenges, etc. 
  • Integrate and realign the localization team’s goals. Put them in lockstep with those of the company. 

A second part of focus involves lightweight audits of localization business and team objectives with corporate directions.  Have your team’s objectives changed?  Should you simplify these objectives or make them more robust? Align (once again) around the company’s current objectives. Be prepared to explain or defend processes you know can’t be forfeited but that might not obviously align with the new company objectives.

Don’t forget to look at how each member of the localization team can best achieve individual and group focus on your new goals and objectives.

Working Through Transition

Change is difficult.  As you confront change, maintain awareness that the status quo may not be the long term norm. Avoid rush decisions. Think about what has changed in the world, think about how you can best position yourself, your operation and your company. 

The recovery phase of system shifts is a transition period; future systems will be different. In times of transition and change, explore, prototype, try new things, and take advantage of pilots. Avoid making dramatic changes until conditions stabilize.

Accepted wisdom and practices may develop cracks when multiple systems shift.  Building for a systems shift requires courage and risk-taking. We’ll need to make use of the best of our tools and possibly leave some of our older or heavier practices behind. Be generous and supportive with teammates and partners who are struggling with change. The Focus base will provide the stability to move ahead and avoid distractions that come with resistance to change.   The Learning, Communication, Resourcefulness pillars, and the Focus base, together give us the structure for new opportunities in the recovery phase of any system shifts.