Localization Workflow Explained: 6 Key Steps and Challenges

Adedamola Ojedokun
18 Sep 2023

11 min. read


Your localization workflow? Honestly? It’s a thing of beauty. It has a solid structure, flexibility, and quality control. Also, there's an artistry to it.

And since we deal only in hard facts, below is proof.

Read this comprehensive guide to localization workflow to see exactly how good your workflow is… and how to improve it further.

Pro tip: Streamline translation, cooperation, QA, and other aspects of your localization workflow with a professional localization management suite – Centus. Learn more.

What is a localization workflow?

what is localization workflow A localization workflow is the process of adapting a product or service to meet the requirements of a specific language, culture, or region.

The nuances of each language and culture often contribute to the complexity of localization. Businesses can easily navigate these complexities and improve their global presence by adhering to a well-defined localization workflow.

A localization workflow acts as a road map that guides you from the source content to the final localized version, preserving the context of the message while considering cultural differences.

How to set up an effective localization workflow

Developing an effective localization workflow requires careful planning, coordination, and the use of translation technology.

Following an organized approach will ensure that your content reaches a global audience in a consistent and culturally appropriate manner. Here are the essential steps for setting up an effective localization workflow:

Step 1: Build a cross-functional team

To dominate the global market, you must have a diverse set of talents, viewpoints, and expertise.

Here's how to build your perfect cross-functional team:

  • Assemble linguists, translators, and writers who can create phrases as fast as possible. Bringing in language experts ensures that your message is not lost in translation.
  • Don't overlook the cultural experts. These are the people who understand the nuances of different cultures. They can help ensure that your localized content is culturally sensitive.
  • Bring in tech experts to create the most up-to-date localization tools and software. Their expertise will help streamline localization processes and eliminate repetitive tasks.
  • Gather input from beta testers. They will ensure that your localized content not only looks great but also feels right.
  • Do not ignore the power of your customers. Have representatives from your target regions who can tell you what works and what doesn't.

Step 2: Define workflow steps

You've set up your perfect team, and now it's time to get down to the business of defining those workflow steps. These steps will guide you on what to do:

  • Outline localization project goals and objectives. What do you hope to achieve with this localization task? Check if everyone is on the same page.
  • Break down the entire localization process into smaller, more achievable tasks.
  • Time is money! Create a timeline that allows enough time for each stage without mounting unnecessary pressure on your team members.
  • Set the localization rules. Document your content's rules, style preferences, and best practices. This will ensure that the process is consistent throughout.
  • Define roles and assign responsibilities. Let everyone know their position and how they fit into the overall picture, from translation experts to layout pros.
  • Maintain open and flowing communication. Regular check-ins, status updates, and answering questions will keep everyone on the same page. Don’t forget that no one likes being in the dark.

Step 3: Use technology

Technology is more than just a gimmick. It is the fuel that can power your localization operation to maximum efficiency.

Here are the technological tools that you can use to set up a localization workflow:

CAT tools

Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools cut through lots of text to help translators ensure consistent language and make translation feel effortless.


Translation Management System (TMS) can help you organize translation projects, manage numerous languages, and keep everyone on the same page. The use of TMS is crucial for all localization tasks, from project tracking to process automation.

Cloud-based collaboration tools

Cloud-based collaboration tools enable your team to collaborate in real-time, ensuring that everyone is viewing the most recent version of your content.

Terminology management tools

The importance of consistency cannot be overstated. Terminology management systems ensure that you are speaking the same language throughout all of your localized content.

Version control

Version control tools help you keep track of the revisions. There will be no more haunting thoughts of "Wait, which version are we working on again?"

Pro tip: To streamline your entire localization workflow, use a localization management suite, Centus, that features all the translation, automation, and QA tools that you’ll ever need. Learn more.

Step 4: Create and maintain resources

When it comes to localization, having well-maintained resources might mean the difference between easy sailing and a shipwreck.

Consider these resources to be your reliable crew members, always ready to help you overcome language and cultural challenges.

Here's how to build and maintain your localization resources:

  • Keep a glossary of crucial terms, phrases, and industry jargon on hand to ensure consistency between translations.
  • Create a style guide that specifies tone, formatting, and language usage. This helps preserve brand identity while adapting content for different markets.
  • Organize and make available all of your source files, images, videos, and other assets. This saves time and reduces errors throughout the localization process.
  • Regularly update your translation memory to ensure consistency and reduce translation expenses.
  • Promote open communication among your team members. Create a platform for linguists, reviewers, and local specialists to share feedback.
  • Create a virtual platform where your cross-functional team can easily collaborate. For seamless colloaboration and file sharing, use a localization management suite – Centus.

Step 5: Collaborate and gather feedback

Localization is a collaborative task that requires numerous ideas to come together to attain linguistic and cultural brilliance. Here's how to properly collaborate and gather feedback:

  • Gather your team of translators, cultural experts, and tech experts for a good old-fashioned brainstorming session. Toss ideas around, make suggestions, and feed the creative fire.
  • Request that your cultural experts explore the complexities of the target culture. They'll find the hidden jewels of wit, idioms, and wordplay that will make your localization genuinely stand out.
  • Gather a group of native speakers from the target region. Present your localized content and allow their open feedback to influence your future developments.
  • Encourage your team to put themselves in the shoes of the audience. It's a cultural dress-up game. This empathy-driven method will give you insights you never imagined possible.
  • Build relationships with local ambassadors or influencers. They can bring insights from the trenches and add credibility to your work.
  • Continuously gather insights, implement adjustments, and evolve like a linguistic chameleon.

Step 6: Continuously improve the process

Adopting a culture of continuous improvement will keep your localization workflow ahead of the curve and ensure that you're delivering top-tier localized content. Here's how to implement it:

  • Regularly gather feedback from your cross-functional team, translators, and end users. Their insights are your golden tickets to a better localization process.
  • Numbers don't lie! Pay attention to metrics such as turnaround time, translation quality, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Research new tools and technologies for improving the localization workflow process. Innovation, whether it's AI-powered translation or cutting-edge collaboration platforms, keeps the groove going.
  • Divide your improvements into small parts and set short-term goals. This will give you modest and simple steps, thereby making the localization workflow process easier to set up.
  • Consult industry experts and attend localization conferences. These events are similar to music concerts for a localization manager in that you will leave with a playlist of new ideas.

5 Components of a successful localization workflow

To successfully tailor your content to different languages, cultures, and regions, make sure your localization workflow has these 5 essential components:

Project initiation

a blank paper sheet Source: Pixabay

The basis of a good localization workflow is project initiation, which provides the necessary framework for smooth content adaptation. It is critical to define the project's scope, goals, and target languages to ensure a clear focus.

Understanding the nuances that resonate with the target audience requires cultural sensitivity and audience analysis. You can have a cohesive approach when your localization process aligns with stakeholders from different departments.

Roles and responsibilities are set within the localization team to ensure harmonious collaboration. A well-organized timeline keeps the workflow on track, while milestones allow for progress tracking.

In a nutshell, project initiation facilitates understanding, communication, and planning, which set the stage for success.

Pre-translation preparation

an office Source: Pixabay

Pre-translation preparation is a key component of an efficient localization workflow. This stage involves a thorough review and optimization of the source content to ensure that it is ready for translation. It also involves fixing any potential issues.

At this stage, consider cultural factors and align the content with the nuances and customs of the target audience. Based on your research, create style guides and terminology databases to ensure consistency in the tone, voice, and key phrases.

In addition, pre-process the source content for translation tools to remove formatting flaws that may impede the translation process. Finally, perform content segmentation to enhance the efficiency of the translation memory tool.

Translation phase

an open dictionary Source: Pixabay

The translation phase is another crucial component of a localization workflow. This step involves the conversion of content from one language to another with accuracy and cultural relevance.

This stage combines linguistic proficiency, subject expertise, and technology resources to achieve effective translations.

Linguistic experts who are fluent in both the source and target language play a crucial role in capturing the intended meaning and tone, thereby extending the process beyond literal translation.

Subject matter knowledge is required for technical, legal, medical, or industry-specific content to ensure accurate interpretation of complex concepts.

The translation phase involves collaboration between translators, editors, and reviewers to improve translation quality through several revisions. This phase transforms content into a cultural bridge, allowing for meaningful communication and resonance with different audiences.

Moreover, the translation phase combines linguistic intelligence, subject expertise, technology, and teamwork, thereby making it a key component of an effective localization workflow.

Quality Assurance

a person ticking checkboxes Source: iStock

Localization quality assurance (QA) ensures the quality, consistency, and cultural relevance of translated content. This component involves reviewing linguistic accuracy and consistency to retain the intended meaning and ensure consistent terminology.

This component emphasizes cultural appropriateness. It also aligns expressions, references, and metaphors with the sensitivities of the target audience.

In addition, quality assurance involves reviewing the formatting and layout of the translated content to ensure visual appeal and readability. Multiple rounds of review are conducted as part of the iterative QA process, which incorporates feedback from linguists, reviewers, and native speakers.

This collaborative approach eliminates errors, maintains cultural sensitivity, and refines content for maximum audience resonance. Localization methods provide seamless, culturally relevant content through QA to improve user experiences and strengthen brand reputation across several markets.

Formatting and layout

layout planning on a whiteboard Source: Unsplash

Formatting and layout go beyond mere translation to ensure visual consistency and functional efficiency. This component addresses the link between the interaction of design and culture, catering to various imagery, colors, and arrangements.

Maintaining a fluid design flow requires managing text expansion and contraction due to language variances. This is what this component ensures. It also maintains readability by carefully adapting the distinction between right-to-left (RTL) and left-to-right (LTR) languages.

More so, image and icon suitability are assessed for cultural alignment. Responsive design is essential for adapting content to different screens and devices without sacrificing the user experience.

Challenges and Solutions in Localization Workflows

Localization workflows have numerous benefits, but they are not without challenges. Let's explore the key localization workflow challenges and creative ideas to overcome them:

Cultural sensitivity and adaptation

Developing cultural sensitivity and adaptation is one of the most difficult tasks in localization. Each market has its own set of cultural norms, values, and language peculiarities.

Without considering these factors, translating content might lead to misinterpretation, insults, or a general disconnect with the audience.

Solution: Hire native speakers or culturally conscious linguists with in-depth knowledge of the target culture. These professionals can advise on how to appropriately adapt your content while keeping its original intent.

Complex content types

Localization usually involves different localization file formats and content types, such as text, images, videos, and interactive features. Such rich content requires careful coordination and the use of specialized technologies.

The challenge here is maintaining consistency across many content types.

Solution: Use a localization management system, Centus, thatsupports multiple types of content.

This tool centralizes the process of setting up your localization workflow, thereby making it easier to maintain and update content across multiple languages.

Balancing speed and quality

Businesses are usually under pressure to offer localized content as quickly as possible to stay ahead of the competition. However, prioritizing speed over quality might result in errors and inaccuracies and a generally poor user experience.

Solution: Simplify operations without sacrificing precision. Automate routine tasks like file preparation and resource management. This will free up human resources for more complex language and cultural tasks.

Also, set up a solid quality assurance process that involves assessments by localization managers, linguists, native speakers, and local stakeholders to preserve the integrity of your localized content.

Get the week's best content!

By subscribing, you are agreeing to have your personal information managed in accordance with the terms of Centus Privacy Policy

Enjoyed the article?

Share it with your colleagues and partners 🤩