Modern businesses love everything seamless. Like, Continuous Integration is a new go-to for software engineers. The underlying principle is sharing code as often as possible, ideally, several times a day. This means new releases become more frequent than ever and other teams need to keep up.
For technical writers this means that help topics need to be updated constantly. This thing alone is a challenge, but it becomes increasingly alarming when you have more stuff piling up on top of that like… continuous localization.
Basically, user manuals need to be updated and localized almost instantly. Translation is done by translators, of course. But, technical writers are involved in this process as well. Let’s see what techcomm specialists can do to make this whole thing more efficient.
Improving Communication With Translators
We’ve already busted the myth that tech writers are lone rangers going days without talking to anyone, just writing help topics. In reality, they communicate a lot. The most common discussions happen with their peers, especially with people working on the same project — editors, team leads, subject-matter experts, devs.
When it comes to localization, translators are added to the equation. And, this quickly becomes a very busy communication channel. One of the reasons for this is that translators are not technical specialists and they most likely require consulting. Quality of the final output depends a lot on how well technical writers and translators can work together.
Paying Attention to Cultural Differences
This is an extremely interesting and controversial point companies doing localization can come across.
One of the trends in techcomm is using a friendlier tone in technical documentation and even adding some humor. The thing is some jokes do not translate well, while others can be considered offensive in the target language.
Another possible issue with localization is country-specific aspects, like, certain services may not work in countries of the target language and that means mentioning them in technical docs is not appropriate. These are just a couple of examples of what can go wrong.
Each company decides whether they are going to tweak the localized versions or the source. If it is the latter, then the doc team is going to be affected. Truth be told, it is going to be affected anyway because when changes are made in a localized user manual version, their advice can still be required.
Staying on Top of Deadlines
Continuous localization is impossible without following through with plans in a timely manner. Time management remains an important skill for a tech writer no matter the work process.
The ability to evaluate a task comes with experience, so if you haven’t mastered this yet, no worries. A piece of advice: try improving time management from both sides — practice and theory. You might want to participate in several training sessions to get on top of your game.
Also, don’t get discouraged if deadlines are not met because of things you do not control as this is sadly often the case for technical writers.
The thing about localization, it has never been a one-off thing. It is a continuous process. So, the notion of continuous localization is an attempt to find ways to make this process smoother and less tiresome for everyone involved via automation and better workflows.
Technical writing teams play an important role in continuous localization and they can contribute a lot to its success. Hopefully, this article is going to shed some light on what you can do to help your company succeed.
Good luck with your technical writing!
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