Is low-touch localization the answer for over-stretched software teams?

Is low-touch localization the answer for over-stretched software teams?

Low-Touch Localization (LTL) may not be as sexy as the concept of continuous localization, but it shares some similarities — mainly in terms of the technologies and processes involved. The two aren’t mutually exclusive and it’s quite common to combine LTL with continuous localization in one form or another.

What is low-touch localization?

In a nutshell, LTL is a fully outsourced localization approach where you (the client) aims to minimize your involvement in the day-to-day process as far as possible beyond essential sign-off and approval stages. Your localization partner carries out all localization tasks from end-to-end and you decide how much or how little your own team gets involved. The input from your team can be limited to initial set-up and implementation, any additional testing and QA you wish to carry out, and final sign-off on completed projects.

Is it right for me?

Any LTL program is designed to be flexible and can be built to suit most software businesses who are actively selling into new international markets, or plan to in the near future.

It’s particularly suited to organizations who are:

  • Going through an aggressive growth stage, with multiple product releases and launches on the roadmap.
  • Managing internal engineering and development resources who are near capacity.
  • Committed to entering one or more markets where English isn’t the primary language used.
  • Limited in their in-house experience of localization.
  • Want to deliver localized products and experiences that meet the same UX standards as their original products.
  • May be reliant on meeting international milestones in order to secure their next funding round.

What are the typical characteristics of a low-touch localization program?

Maximum automation. Where it’s feasible, all file export, import and transfer processes are fully automated. This can mean that translatable web content is pulled and pushed via an automatic connection to a back-end CMS, product strings and updates are automatically identified and pulled from Github (or another repo) and shared cloud folders are automatically scanned on a schedule to identify different types of content for localization.

Automation of this type can be configured to work with your existing tools, update schedules and internal procedures so that there’s generally little need for you to change current processes to accommodate a new localization initiative. The demands on your team are minimized, allowing them to focus on their core tasks without interruption. A huge advantage of this approach is that you don’t need to employ any dedicated staff to manage localization, or delegate it to an existing member of your team to manage.

Quality Localization. Assuming you work with a reputable partner there’s no need to compromise on the quality of the localization itself. You’ll have seen multiple paid Google ads for SaaS solutions that claim to magically carry out your software localization at a cut-price rate. This isn’t one of them — what we’re talking about here is taking a hybrid approach where you benefit from the same level of convenience, but with the assurance that there’s a team of people behind the scenes working on your project on an individual basis. The objective is to minimize the demands on your team and speed up market entry, not to make life easy for your localization partner or cut corners. Translations are still carried out by individually selected in-country linguists, still managed meticulously by a project manager, and you still benefit from a premium service approach.

What are the downsides?

It’s low-touch, not hands-off. In the early implementation stages, collaboration is critical to set things up for future success. At Iota we always assemble a team of linguists who are personally matched to your project and team, and while they familiarize themselves with your product and brand there will undoubtedly be a number of queries flowing back and forth. Even once the program is embedded and your partner is operating as a virtual extension of your team, it’s important to be responsive (on both sides) and regularly review progress. Although one of the key advantages of an LTL approach is that you don’t need to worry about redeploying or employing staff to take on localization tasks, it’s important to nominate someone who ‘owns’ the relationship with your partner and can be the primary contact for day-to-day queries.

It’s not the lowest-cost option. It’s an approach that allows your internal teams to continue to focus on that you hired them for, while a specialist team handle localization and help set you up for rapid international success. The main objective is to ensure the efficient use of resources and the delivery of international products that feel local and can be sold confidently in your target markets. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to localize — it’s probably not for you.

If you need any help deciding on the best way to localize your product or marketing assets, we’re always happy to talk with no obligation. Email us at