March/April 2021 Society Pages

Ask a Tech Comm Manager

By Cindy Currie | STC Fellow and Kit Brown-Hoekstra | STC Fellow

Dear STC Community,

We have enjoyed answering your questions over the past five years, and the time has come to bid you adieu. We look forward to the new column that will fill this space, and to the interesting topics each issue will cover under Alisa Bonsignore’s expert guidance. We are, of course, always happy to mentor people and to provide assistance. We can be reached via social media and email. Keep us posted on your careers and your dreams.

In honor of this month’s theme of project management, we have compiled a final set of questions and answers.


We are currently using Agile for our product and content development. Now, we need to bring in our localization process to the mix, so that we can do more continuous delivery. What do we need to do?

Excellent! Pulling localization upstream in the process helps you to better manage global, simultaneous shipments and improve customer experience. Before adding your localization process to the Agile mix, talk to your localization vendor and explain what you are wanting to do. They can help you identify roadblocks, opportunities, and tool/process changes you need to make before going Agile.

If you are already doing structured content and using a CMS, all the better. It makes it easier to parse the content to send to localization in batches. Initially, it’s best to plan a sprint +2 cycle, so that the product features and content are stable before sending to localization (sending too early is likely to blow your localization budget with rework). Also, identify which content tends to be the most stable and batch that first.

This is a good time to audit your source content for localization issues and establish priorities for improving its global readiness. Often, small content or process changes in the source can have a huge impact on localization. This is particularly true in the realms of change management, quality assurance, and terminology management (there’s too much to go into in this short space, but there are workshops on these topics). As an example, if you have an error in the source that costs $50 USD to fix and that content has already been localized, multiply that cost by the number of languages and that total by the number of changes. ($50 USD x 20 languages = $1,000 USD for ONE change. Now, if you have 30 places where that problem occurs and the change needs to be made manually, it will cost you $30,000 USD.) You can see how quickly costs can add up.

Dominique Trouche from WhP and Kit Brown-Hoekstra presented on this topic at the 2020 STC Summit, and the WhP blog provides more tips on a variety of localization topics:


We are a small project team working in a small company with mission-critical deadlines. How can we mitigate the risks of losing a project team member at a critical point in the process?

Managing risk is one of the biggest challenges in project management, and it’s particularly challenging in the midst of a global pandemic. Here are some recommendations:

  • To the extent possible, allow people to work from home and ensure your workplace follows the CDC COVID-19 workplace guidelines.
  • Cross-train team members, and identify experienced contractors or other employees who can backfill in case of an emergency.
  • Keep all project communication in a centralized area that everyone on the team has access to. If possible, record conference calls and use Slack or other communication channels to capture casual questions, discussions, and other communications in a centralized, searchable way.
  • Train more junior team members so they can handle tasks independently.
  • Communicate proactively with each other. Make sure everyone on the team has each other’s contact information. No news is not good news when working virtually, especially during a pandemic.
  • Plan extra time in the schedule when you can, and recognize that everyone on the team is dealing with extra demands both at home and at work right now.
  • Pace yourselves. There are very few real content emergencies. Most teams that work tons of overtime all the time have high levels of burnout and turnover. If people are consistently working 50-60 hours a week, it’s an indication that you need to hire people, or that your processes are inefficient. Fix the easy stuff, and schedule time to evaluate and update systems and processes to improve efficiencies.
  • Treat people well.
  • Set clear expectations, guidelines, roles/responsibilities, and deadlines.
  • If possible, ensure everyone has a backup person who can step in if needed.



Ask a Tech Comm Manager is an advice column geared toward answering all those questions you have, but might be uncomfortable asking. We glean the questions from social media, forums, and most importantly, from you, dear reader.


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