Technology & Engineering March 16, 2016
How to Manage Multilingual Website Rollouts: Part 1
Managing global website rollouts can be a daunting prospect. They often involve the coordination of several departments and resources, while running parallel workstreams that can directly impact progress if not planned efficiently.
As discussed in a previous post ‘Top ten tips for Global rollouts’, the key to success is organization, communication, and planning. In this three-part series, I will be highlighting some basic pointers that should help with your global rollout planning and execution.
In this first post, I will focus on project management and local market requirements, as there are several areas that are often overlooked, underestimated, and undervalued in the global rollout process.
Client side project managers – you’re going to need one (or many)
If you don’t have one, get one! Better still, get many. It is simply not enough to have one project manager within the agency, delivering the website and global rollout. Nor is it enough to have a single project manager on the client side responsible for the general website development. A global rollout requires dedicated project management time, and people who can drive the project from both sides.
We undertook a global rollout for a client last year where we delivered over 40 sites in 12 months; this was helped by having a client-side project manager assigned to each continent/region. These project managers ensured each of the countries within their remit knew, and stuck to, internal deadlines on content creation, approval, upload, and launch. They also understood the other local commitments, so could tailor the plan as and when it was needed, depending on priorities.
It is usually the case that a local country team is already 100% resourced on their current day job, so populating and launching a site is often an additional responsibility that they have to fit in.
The level of internal client knowledge that comes from regional project managers is not something an external or agency resource can easily gain. It helps to effectively plan the creation and launch of a new website, alongside the other commitments and deadlines each local market may be working towards.
Allow for local market requirements
When dealing with many local markets and websites, it is inevitable that there will be country-specific requirements. It is highly likely that there will be local functional/technical differences and requirements. This could include differing legal requirements around cookie storage/messaging, or larger more complex differences, such as how products are displayed due to local legislation, or a need for right-to-left display.
The most sensible way to deal with these local requirements is to capture them as part of the initial website scoping and build. Then there won’t be any surprises when rolling out each country, and no delays in the launch timeline trying to fit in changes that impact the global rollout plan.
Another way to deal with country-specific changes and improvements is to run a Digital Operations Services (DOS) contract alongside the rollouts. This will allow you a specific amount of time each month with regular releases of updates that can run alongside the rollout project. It can also include support from Dept’s content team when client resources are in short supply.
Allow enough sign-off time, locally and centrally
There are several quality gates within a global rollout that are important, aside from the sign-off for launch.
The creation of quality content is important. It may be that the central team has created the entire site as a Master English version in, for example, a Tridion Blueprint, that each local market needs to localize, translate, and adapt. Alternatively, it could be that each country is responsible for creating their own local, specific content.
Either way, there will need to be a level of sign-off from both the local market team and the central team, to ensure the site is ready for public launch. Dept can provide simple checklists of points to consider for sign-off which ensure tasks such as translated URLs, labels, and keywords are complete.
Another key aspect is technical or sector expert sign-off. Several clients I have worked with on successful global rollouts are within the agriculture and manufacturing industries. It is often crucial, and in some cases, a legal requirement, for content displayed to meet local legislation.
An example of this could be a product page containing the wrong dosage instructions. If this were to be launched to the live site, it could have severe legal consequences. Therefore, it is important to not only locally and centrally sign the site off, but also continue to review and govern the content on the site moving forward. One potential way to do this if using SDL Tridion is to implement its workflow, meaning a piece of content must be reviewed by specific people before it is physically possible to publish.
In the next post in this three-part series, I will focus on localization and translation considerations, dealing with multiple timezone planning and brand governance.