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Project management for localization of a package of documents for a series of ADS devices

This case is about the implementation of a large complex project for a series of devices from our valued partner Brother. The project was designed over a year and included localization in 23 European and Asian languages. A schedule had to be drawn up taking into account the client's requirements in terms of the delivery time of the manuals, as well as distributing the workload among departments and performers.
Document Localization
The Situation
Our long-term and much valued client Brother approached us with a project to localize several types of manuals (Quick setup guide / User's guide / Network user guide / Web connection guide) for a series of ADS devices. The work on each manual involved preparing files for translation, translation itself and editing, layout, and intermediate checks on the client side.
We needed to create a localization schedule in such a way that the periods of translation, layout and review were separated from each other as much as possible, while the deadlines stated by the client were respected.
01. Challenge
01. Solution
We created an Excel file with a schedule to cope with the challenge. It automatically built a Gantt chart for each language with color indication of stages.
The client divided the languages into blocks, according to which one block of the languages had to be ready on the first-priority bases, the other - on the second, etc.
In turn we broke the work down by days and stages so that the translators could cope with the load, and the employees at the client's offices could check the quality of translation into their language in all manuals successively rather than simultaneously.
A large number of manuals and languages required an adequate number of quality control specialists on our side (to perform formal translation checks and file layout checks after DTP), as well as a number of DTP specialists. It was necessary to determine the number of people to be involved in the project based on the expected workload. It was also vital to take into account other localization requests from Brother and other customers that would have come at the same time as the series of ADS manuals.
02. Challenge
02. Solution
To cope with this challenge, we used Microsoft Project, which allowed us to correlate the stages of the project, the workload and the free time of those carrying out the work. For each language we created tasks in Project according to the schedule: translation, formal quality control, DTP, PDF verification, etc.
A person to carry out the work was assigned to each task. To determine the number of employees that would be required, we appointed virtual DTP and QA employees instead of real ones. Then we examined the percentage of a workload. At the same time, we specified a limitation for each virtual employee: no more than 6 hours a day could be spent on an ADS project, so that there was a margin of time for other projects.
Thus, we determined that we would need 7 DTP specialists and 7 QA specialists. After that we optimized the schedule: tasks for each language were distributed so that there was no peak load. Then the required number of employees was reduced to 5 DTP specialists and 5 QA specialists.
As in any real project, after agreeing on the schedule and starting the work, unforeseen situations began to occur, which could have led to delays both in the overall deadline of the project and in the delivery of individual manuals. It was necessary to manage the schedule and workload in a changing situation. For example, the Quick Setup Guide was scheduled to be delivered first, but, some pictures from the client were missing, and we had to wait for these, which shifted the delivery time of this particular manual, and as a result the whole project, which affected our well-planned workload as well.
03. Challenge
03. Solution
However, thanks to the schedule in Excel and a plan in MS Project, after receiving new input from the client, we always managed to quickly adjust the workload and deadlines, redistribute the team and, most importantly, provide for the intersection of localization stages on the horizon of several months to prevent a critical shift in the project deadline.
As a result of planning and managing the content and the team, all 4 manuals for 24 languages were released on schedule, without exceeding the budget or requiring extra hours from the team.