The broad objective of the LMCC research study is to identify the core competences that are shared across diverse roles in localization management with the long-term aim of contributing to international standards of best practice related to the required competences for the professional practice of localization management.
The research study is conducted within the following larger context. Our industry is experiencing explosive growth in language-access needs, alongside the rapidly evolving technology that is impacting traditional localization roles. The Common Sense Advisory characterizes ours as an environment of “disruptive change” (“Localization Maturity Model: Release 3.0, 3). According to the CSA, “Sophisticated procedures and behaviors that previously characterized more advanced levels of performance have become basic enablers for earlier stages of localization maturity” (7).
This landscape could be very advantageous for our industry! Barrier to entry to the field increases as higher levels of localization maturity become the norm, which drives up the value of language access services. And professionalization has long been a goal of industry professionals: the definition of “translation and localization” services in conformance with the United Nations International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) as “specialized professional, scientific, and technical activities [that] require a high degree of training, and make specialized knowledge and skills available” to purchasers (qtd. in Arturo, “Unraveling Translation Service Contracts,”).
Our opportunity to seize upon the economic opportunities afforded by this landscape is not without challenges. Our backdrop in the United States is the language hegemony currently being pushed politically by the White House, and the long lack of prioritization of language education at the primary, secondary, and undergraduate levels.1 These characteristics impose limits to the number of qualified professionals available to enter localization roles and to the value of localization services.
1 See Marking, Marion, “Trump Administration’s Deregulation Drive Begins to Impact Language Industry,” on Slator.com, and Friedman, Amelia, “America’s Lacking Language Skills,” on The Atlantic.
In the United States, we also face the lack of regulation of the industry on a governmental level. As noted in “The Confidentiality Dilemma in the Language Profession,” by Salua Kamerow and Nikki DiGiovanni…
[N]o specific regulations exist for interpreters or translators. There are no state or federal standards of accountability, no governing bodies or professional oversights at any level, no board exams or education requirement of any kind. In other words, [localization and translation are]… completely self-regulated profession[s]. Anyone can practice as an interpreter or a translator regardless of their background or knowledge…
Unlike attorneys or doctors, translators do not have to prove their qualifications to anyone or operate under any particular professional standard… [C]heck[ing] credentials and provid[ing] any non-disclosure agreements required for the particular job or relationship… is truly up to the person or entity contracting the service. If this is not done properly,… the consequences can be disastrous.
ISO standards are also exceedingly clear that industry regulation falls to LSPs. Take Section 3 Resources of ISO 17100, which explicitly assigns this regulation to LSPs 6 times in a section made up of 800 words.
“The TSP shall have a documented process in place to ensure that the people selected to perform translation tasks have the required competences and qualifications” (3.1.1 General).
“Where a TSP chooses to engage a third party to perform a translation service or any part thereof, the TSP shall retain full responsibility for ensuring that all the requirements of this International Standard are met with respect to that service or any part thereof by that third party” (3.1.2 Responsibility for sub-contracted tasks).
“The TSP shall determine the translator’s qualifications to provide a service conforming to this International Standard” (3.1.4 Translator qualifications).
“The TSP shall ensure that revisers have all… [necessary] competences” (3.1.5 Professional competences of revisers).
“The TSP shall ensure that reviewers… have… relevant qualification[s]” (3.1.6 Professional competences of reviewer).
“The TSP shall ensure that project managers have the appropriate documented competence[s]” (3.1.7 Competence of translation project managers).ISO 17100 – Translation services — Requirements for translation service
LSPs, in turn, assign industry regulation to localization managers, since localization managers are the ones to screen the providers with whom they contract for services.
Since localization managers are assigned such a great responsibility, it just makes sense for our industry to standardize the competences necessary for the role. And relevant industry standards are a good place to start collecting the professional competences necessary for the professional practice of localization project management, to be organized into their own standard. (See A comparative look at standards on translation and localization competences.)
While this may sound difficult, standardization brings truly awesome benefits to the table for our industry! According to empirical data of the American National Standards Institute, standardization stimulates innovation, shapes sectors, increases profitability, promotes competition, benefits economies, accelerates growth, and reduces risks for contributors (since the cost of development is shared) (“Empirical Data: United Kingdom,” “Empirical Data: Germany,” Introduction to Standards, ANSI). Also according to ANSI, while the benefits are clear, corporate decision-makers are often unaware of the strategic value of standards!
The objective of this research study is therefore broader than the identification of the core competences necessary for the professional practice of localization management. Our goal is also to evangelize on the benefits of such standardization.