4 tips for software localization and agile development success

If you’re thinking about—or transitioning over to—an agile development model, you may be wondering if anything needs to change from a localization standpoint.

The agile development model, though not exactly new, is still a hot topic for software developers today.

And it’s for good reason. With changes in how you develop software also come changes in your software localization process.

We have four localization tips to help set you up for agile success. Keep in mind, too, that these tips are great practices for all software localization projects. But they’re even more crucial when creating frequent (and sometimes very fast) iterations.

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What’s agile all about?

In our ever-evolving world, software developers continuously modify their preferred methods for creating software. After all, the goal is to receive the highest value, best timelines and most dynamic capabilities in their end result.

This is why developers nowadays may find better value in the agile method over the waterfall method (which was the chosen development model in the past).

The waterfall method has typically been described using a construction analogy. You define and design everything up front, and then you build it, making very little changes along the way. The original plan is the ultimate roadmap and any changes along the way present expensive difficulties. You wouldn’t modify the blueprints of a building halfway through construction or even at the end, would you? While this approach is acceptable for a building, for cutting-edge software you may need a more dynamic approach.

With the agile development model, developers still follow a plan, but there is also more wiggle room to allow for modifications along the way. They constantly adapt and create several dynamic versions of a final product until they get to the ideal result.

This is beneficial for many reasons. Agile development means that you can assess the software at each interval (rather than waiting until the end). This means that you can:

  • Evaluate the software many times throughout the entire process, which can actually help direct how the final product is designed.
  • Get dynamic feedback throughout the process to improve your product along the way.
  • Potentially save time and money while providing the highest value to customers.

If you build software in a manner where everything is contingent on the original blueprints, you might design your product and find out in the end (tons of hard work, time and money later) that it’s deficient. This may mean you have to completely start from scratch.

This isn’t the case with agile.

Setting you up to succeed: Four tips

What you may have gotten away with before—skipping or waiting to the very last minute with software localization—just won’t work with an agile model. Follow these four tips to ensure everything goes smoothly.

1. Make your localization team part of your team

Your localization team needs to be recognized by engineers, developers and everyone involved as a key part of the overall group. When you’re in agile mode, you need to think about localization from the start and throughout the entire development process.

Software localization can’t be viewed as an afterthought. Doing so slows down the development process and inhibits you from fixing any localization bugs as they arise. Lean on the technical expertise of your localization team, and be sure that you work with people that can handle any localization question you throw at them.

2. Proper internationalization is (even more) crucial

Internationalization primes your software for localization. It’s a critical step in all software localization projects (regardless of the development model you use). However, with waterfall you may have been able to find workaround solutions for any internationalization shortcomings thanks to long development cycles.

In agile mode, there’s no time for workarounds. To be successful with software localization, be sure that your product is completely internationalized and ready for localization from the get-go.

3. Automate your process

Eliminating monotonous, manual steps like emailing files here, there and back will make software localization in an agile model much easier—and save you a lot of time. We can build a connector that links our translation management system, to your content management system.

Simply send your projects for localization directly from your content management system and the localized files will automatically route right back to it (and in its proper place).

4. Use translation memory to your advantage

Developing frequent, fairly similar builds means that it’s likely that your content is also similar for each iteration. Consequently, your translations will likely remain similar too.

Because of this, be sure to work with a software localization partner that expertly manages your translation memory. Translation memory, especially in this case, where the content is similar (and being replicated several times on different occasions), will really work to your advantage and help you save money on localization.

Want to learn more about software localization support for an agile development model? Shoot us a note and let’s talk.

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