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Take data security into consideration from the start

High profile privacy breaches, such as the Translate.com breach of “what must [have been]… millions of indexed pages containing highly sensitive data,” are unfortunately common in our digital age. They emphasize the importance of careful consideration into the way that content is shared in the localization (or any) industry. Most LSPs put careful thought into the way that clients share files with them and the way that they, in turn, share confidential client content with production teams, including external providers such as translators and editors. LSPs also house the confidential information of translators and editors, including rates, tax ID numbers, contact details, etc. This data too needs to be handled with care.

Depending on an organization’s model, external providers with whom content is shared may also include a whole host of other types of translation and localization agencies, such as… 

  • SLVs – Single-Language Vendors
  • MLVs – Multiple-Language Vendors
  • ALVs – Any-Language Vendors

Working with SLVs has the advantage of allowing an LSP greater control over content, though many global enterprises elect to work with MLVs in order to outsource the costs and risks associated with managing pools of providers. When selecting a MLV, global enterprises surely carry out due diligence to ensure the confidential handling of client content. LSPs and global enterprises may also elect to work with ALVs, or those that claim to offer all languages. Be aware that despite their claims, ALVs do not have talent in their pool for all languages. Rather, they bet that they will be able to find talent for any rare language that may be requested with speed. That speed likely prohibits their ability to carefully review the data security protocols of any talent they recruit. ALVs therefore need to be approached with the greatest skepticism.

The data security protocols in place at a translation firm will also be more or less stringent depending on the domains and markets in which a firm works. For example, certain types of work in the medical field, such as translating medical records, requires stricter protocols in order for firms to secure Protected Health Information (PHI) and remain compliant with HIPAA; work with the European Union requires compliance with the General Data Projection Regulation. Many of us, including the translators we work with as PMs, use free email accounts like Hotmail (so 1990!) or Yahoo. However, these types of accounts are not secure. All data shared to these domains is retained by the owners of these domains. A general best practice is therefore not to share confidential client information to these domains, or to avoid SLVs and translators and editors that use these domains for professional communications entirely. If you must share files via email, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting recommends that you at least zip and password protect your email attachments (9. IT Security). The article Passwords, Data encryption, and the underutilized file format offers a good tutorial on how content passed through email can be password protected.

On the topic of electronic correspondence, a note that emailing attachments of more than 4 MB is generally considered very poor form. If the attachment you are sending is larger than say 8-12 MB, this slows speeds for everyone working on your network, and thus causes your colleagues to complain! Generally, LSPs work on password-protected servers to facilitate the sharing of large files and maintain control of confidential content. Clients and translators alike are given logins and passwords. Users access the secure server via an FTP client. A unique folder for each user is created in order to control access, as users can only access the files placed in their folders.

Think for a moment of all of the systems used to manage content. LSPs that elect to use cloud storage such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox have surely read the terms and conditions for any service before selecting it as their file transfer solution. Still, being aware of the terms and conditions governing content ownership of the services you interact with never hurts! Reviewing the terms and conditions of services of industry giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple is highly recommended, along with the terms of use for any other content sharing systems you use, if you can bear the reading!

Works cited

“Google Terms of Service.” Google, 25 Oct. 2017, policies.google.com/terms.

“Microsoft Services Agreement.” Microsoft, 30 Aug. 2019, www.microsoft.com/en-us/servicesagreement/

Brewster, Thomas. “Yahoo: Hackers Stole Data On Another Billion Accounts — UPDATED.” Forbes, 14 Dec. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2016/12/14/yahoo-admits-another-billion-user-accounts-were-leaked-in-2013/.

Faes, Florian. “Translate.com Exposes Highly Sensitive Information in Massive Privacy Breach.” Slator, 7 Sept. 2017, slator.com/technology/translate-com-exposes-highly-sensitive-information-massive-privacy-breach/.

Hern, Alex. “I read all the small print on the internet and it made me want to die.” The Guardian, www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/15/i-read-all-the-small-print-on-the-internet.

Institute of Translation and Interpreting. “A Brief Guide to the GDPR.” ITI, 2018, www.atanet.org/resources/ITI_Guide_to_GDPR.pdf

Office for Civil Rights Headquarters, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Summary of the HIPAA Security Rule.” HHS.gov, www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/security/laws-regulations/index.html.

Sikoryak, Robert. “Comic artist repurposes iTunes’ terms and conditions into graphic novel.” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/12/apple-terms-conditions-graphic-novel-comic-robert-sikoryak.

Statz, Pamela. “FTP for Beginners.” Wired, 15 Feb. 2010, www.wired.com/2010/02/ftp_for_beginners/.

Wojowski, Joseph. “Passwords, Data encryption, and the underutilized file format.” Joseph Wojowski’s Translation Technology Blog, 18 Jan.

Stakeholder Management in Production Processes

A primary objective of the localization project manager is to keep all of the projects we manage moving forward. This requires cross-project analysis to determine the next highest priority action on our action items list to be completed to keep all projects moving forward. In localization project management, secondary priorities generally do not exist. Rather, we ask ourselves, what’s the highest priority action that needs to be undertaken to keep all of my projects moving forward? Then, what’s the next highest priority action after that? Then, what’s the next highest priority?

This exercise requires a re-imagining of the metaphor “moving forward” for LPMs… Images of localization workflows suggest linear, logical interpretations of forward movement. However, at times, sending content backward to a previous process for rework is forward movement, since any action that prevents further downstream issues ultimately ensures that a project will be able to be realigned with efficient processing toward project goals.

The critical path...
The critical path…

This exercise also requires the careful impartiality in leadership discussed in Sandra M. Mitchell’s chapter, “The Project Manager Role.” As LPMs, we generally do not have formal supervisory authority over the team members engaged in a project, the people who carry out the processes of the localization workflow. We can influence, not mandate, or escalate conflicts as necessary. We also have very little control over the needs and demands of many of the various external and implicit stakeholders to a project. Achieving and maintaining stakeholder buy-in is a careful balancing act for the LPM.

The need to maintain stakeholder buy-in is discussed in many standards related to our industry. The topic is also covered in PMBOK, aka the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide, of the Project Management Institute. PMBOK identifies the exercise of stakeholder management as “project governance,” or “the alignment of the project with stakeholders’ needs or objectives” (30)… 

Stakeholders include all members of the project team as well as all interested entities that are internal or external to the organization. The project team identifies internal and external, positive and negative, and performing and advising stakeholders in order to determine the project requirements and the expectations of all parties involved. The project manager should manage the influence of these various stakeholders in relation to the project requirements to ensure a successful outcome. (PMBOK 31)

Project Management Body of Knowledge of the PMI


Stakeholder identification is a continuous process throughout the entire project life cycle. Identifying stakeholders, understanding their relative degree of influence on a project, and balancing their demands, needs, and expectations are critical to the success of the project. Failure to do so can lead to delays, cost increases, unexpected issues, and other negative consequences including project cancellation. (PMBOK 31, emphasis added)

Project Management Body of Knowledge of the PMI

The image below is a feeble attempt to portray some of the various explicit and implicit stakeholders to the localization production workflow, and the communication that takes place among key players… Double sided arrows are used both to portray the flow of communication and to suggest the positioning strategies carried out during communication.

Stakeholders in localization production processes v.2 by Alaina Brandt
Stakeholders in localization production processes v.2

In terms of positioning, we’ll situate our discussion by considering a single example of a typical project communication between parties with conflicting objectives. Let’s say that the account representative has been working on winning work from a particular potential client for months. Finally, that client sends a job, and they need rush turnarounds. When the account representative brings the job to the LPM, the LPM positions herself as a representative of the team whose objective is to produce quality work. She’ll explain that rush deadlines impact quality, increase stress, and require increased costs to account for any unidentified risks that may result from limitations in time available to carry out robust project planning. The account representative positions themselves to me as a representative of the client and accepts increased costs.

When we bring the project to the team, the LPM now positions herself as a representative of sales (and our organization, our new client, and our eventual target users). She’ll explain to her team members the months of careful work carried out by sales to even win the chance to perform work for this client. In this way, she manages stakeholder expectations by providing context for the job. Suddenly, the job is not just another rush job. Suddenly, the job is our opportunity to capitalize on the long efforts invested by the account representative. Suddenly, the team is geared to perform good, fast work.

In this situation, the LPM didn’t demand that team members rush through the project and work OT to get the project done. Demands tend to lead to negative attitudes, and negative attitudes affect performance, which affects quality, according to ISO. Instead, she used transparent communication to influence how the project would be received. And instead of feeling frustrated by another rush client and another rush job, she gave the team an idea they could rally around. This form of communication is emotional intelligence at work.

Emotional intelligence is a key skill to develop for work as a locPM. Yet, emotional intelligence must be practiced sincerely… Emotional intelligence must be carried out based on the principles of honesty, integrity, transparency, with an eye toward team building and with the best interests of stakeholders close to heart.

Now, let’s consider that same scenario, but tweak the circumstances a bit in order to examine that idea of managing the degree of influence of project stakeholders. Let’s say that the same potential client is requesting turnarounds that are so compressed that the team determines that we will be unable to produce our minimum standard for quality in our work. In this case, the team addresses an imbalance in the degree of influence of project stakeholders. We do so by representing a stakeholder that has no immediate influence on project parameters: the target user. We determine that rather than to produce a low quality product that the target user will struggle to understand, we will decline the project.

This sort of a determination will at times require that the project manager put the lion in l10n PM. Courage, steadfastness, and calm based on an understanding of best practices are needed to approach this type of determination with clients, and even upper management. Best case scenario, the client will acknowledge your organization’s professionalism and acquiesce on the deadline. Worst case scenario, your team hasn’t lowered the bar for what constitutes a minimal level of translation quality.

On the topic of stakeholder management, standards are clear… Transparent collaboration based on mutual respect and consensus is standard best practice for ensuring the success of the movement of products through the localization workflow.

Works cited

Grant, Adam. “The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence.” The Atlantic, TheAtlantic.com, 2 Jan. 2014, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/the-dark-side-of-emotional-intelligence.

Goleman, Daniel, and Richard E. Boyatis. “Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Publishing, 6 Feb. 2017, hbr.org/2017/02/emotional-intelligence-has-12-elements-which-do-you-need-to-work-on.

“lion images.” Google search.

Mitchell, Sandra M. “5. The Project Manager Role.” Cert Prep: Project Management Professional (PMP)®, The Project Management Institute, LinkedIn Learning, 15 Apr. 2018, www.linkedin.com/learning/cert-prep-project-management-professional-pmp/overview-of-the-project-manager.

PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition (2017). Project Management Institute, Inc., 2019, www.pmi.org/pmbok-guide-standards/foundational/pmbok.

Project Management Institute (PMI). Project Management Institute, Inc., 2019, www.pmi.org.

Romano, James V. “Term of the Week: Localization (l10n).” The Localization Term of the Week. XML Press, The Content Wrangler, 12 Mar. 2018, thelanguageoflocalization.com/2018/03/14/term-of-the-week-localization-l10n/.

Localization Industry Expert Q&A: Interview with Winnie Heh on The Eco-System of Language Profession

In this episode of the podcast Localization Industry Expert Q&A, Winnie Heh discusses her Eco-System of Language Profession. See http://al10npm.com/heh_ecosystem.

In the interview, Heh elaborates on the many positions in localization available beyond translation and project management. She differentiates among the production, supervision, support, and sales and marketing roles available at the entry level from those roles available at higher levels of management. She discusses the similarities and differences between vendor-side and client-side work. She expands upon the core competencies and skills that employers seek.

Her discussion is based on decades of experience growing brand new lines of business in the localization industry!

The Eco-System of Language Profession by Winnie Heh

Listen to the interview to learn Heh’s full responses to the following questions and more!

AB: Your Eco-System of Language Profession includes 53 unique job titles of very diverse roles! Could you talk to us about how these roles are related? What are the entry level positions that graduates of MIIS might obtain, and what roles might they work toward?

WH: Entry level positions include production roles (translator, project manager, DTP specialist), supervisory roles, support roles, and sales and marketing…

AB: What are the differences between vendor-side and client-side work?

WH: I’ll start by talking about the similarities, which include solid skills in localization project production, relationship management, and the need to meet deadlines and operate within a budget…

On the vendor-side, you’ll work with a wide variety of clients, content types, and tools… Your customers are the localization teams of client-side organizations and your suppliers are the linguists. On the client-side, a big part of your job is to make sure those who create content take localization into consideration… Your customers are your internal teams and the end users of your content or product, and your suppliers are the vendor side organizations…

AB: You state that your research is meant to be “descriptive” rather than “prescriptive.” If you were to prescribe core competences necessary for the professional practice of localization management, what competences would you say are among the highest priority for aspiring localization professionals to learn?

WH: The highest priority skills come in three categories: hard skills, technology, and soft skills… For hard skills, you’ll need to know translation technology and be comfortable telling stories from data using business math. In terms of technology, you need to learn a handful of programming languages to position yourself to work well with programmers down the road. In the era of big data, you also need to be able to make fact-based decisions based on Excel database analysis. For soft skills, critical thinking, learning, and being the kind of colleague you want to have are essential.

AB: Could you talk to us about the importance of execution?

WH: You’re track record, or ability to deliver projects on time and on budget, speaks volumes more than any talk!

Thank you to Winnie Heh for helping to make this episode!

Episode 3 of the podcast Localization Industry Expert Q&A, titled, “Interview with Winnie Heh on The Eco-System of Language Profession” with host Alaina Brandt was recorded and produced on August 16, 2019. The sound in the episode is Lemoncreme, made in F1 Studio and available on Freesound.

So, what makes a qualified localization project manager?

To begin formulating an answer to this question and developing standard competences and minimum skill requirements for localization managers, a logical place to begin is by looking at the job descriptions associated with LPM roles at LSPs, as Professor Adam Wooten did for his talk Localization Careers: What Recruiters Want and How to Succeed. (See Key Competences for Localization Managers: What Industry Expert Adam Wooten has to say…)


Key Competences for Localization Managers: What Adam Wooten has to say…

Our research on job descriptions is carried out based on Professor Adam Wooten’s IMUG talk Localization Careers: What Recruiters Want and How to Succeed. In that presentation, Professor Wooten discusses his research in job descriptions for a variety of roles in localization (not just the localization project managers) and what that tells us about the skills employers look for. 

Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.