As software companies forge ahead in terms of translation and localization requirements, being able to measure translation performance is taking a central role for management. Without metrics, it proves impossible to evaluate and fund the language service function in line with the criteria used for other corporate functions. The CSA has provided a number of handy metrics that software companies and their LSPs can use, and we outline them below.

Selected types of content by software vertical

Source: Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

Mode of production by industry vertical

Source: Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

The best translation metrics for software companies

  1. By the numbers

It isn’t surprising that “revenue range and translation spending” is one of the simplest and most direct metrics. According to the CSA report, software companies have reported revenue ranges from anywhere between $1 million to more than $10 billion. Data shows that the most common budgets tend to be less than $500,000 for global product developers.

Owing to increasing demand and volumes of content as well as a surge in the number of languages required, spending on localization and translation continues to soar. Being able to determine how much to budget, or has been spent on such services, makes “numbers” a favourable metric.

  1. Per project

Translation metrics per project include volume, languages, and turnaround times. Per the CSA’s report, software ranked near the bottom of the overall responses in terms of content volume between the years 2009-10 and 2011-12. Whilst it is easy to assume software developers ought to be at the forefront when it comes to production methods and tools which support machine translation, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

Why should software companies’ LSPs use metrics?

It’s important for software firms to use translation metrics as a way of benchmarking against other companies. Further, the right metrics can teach LSPs about servicing this industry. There are a number of ways that LSPs can use metrics to enhance their services to software businesses. Such as:

  • Offer metrics as a separate service. LSPs can use what has and hasn’t worked for their own metric dashboards as well as for other customers and then package it into a service so as to shorten the learning curve for software clients.
  • Get involved in software and documentation. Look farther than content and traditional sectors for big-spending clients. For example, the four top content types in terms of spending, according to the CSA, are advertising, sales, packaging and labelling, and multimedia, all of which have localization requirements for software and other documentation.
  • Think outside the box. In addition to the metrics of time, cost, and turnaround time, consider what else you could track for your software clients. What about the speed at which a crowd-sourced community gives feedback or the quality of the original content? Think of three core areas where you can differentiate your services by measuring and then reporting on processes that are not already monitored.

According to the CSA, language services are still a bargain for software companies, with little investment required. Whether you buy or offer localization and translation, the metrics need to be at your fingertips, shifting the focus towards revenue enablement and the customer’s ongoing ROI.