Is Making Global Ready Software All About Just Localization?

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Software release is no longer a task confined to a core English market. Global doors are open to take in newer software that is entering the market. Development teams are obviously very cognizant of this and are ensuring localization is done right and done soon so as to enable release of local software along with the English version. Over the years, product teams have gained proficiency in developing such localized software including optimizing processes, working with global teams etc. to get this done on time and within the defined budget.
However, another important angle here is that not just the localized software goes to these local markets. The English version is also going to be available globally. So, let us say a software is being made by a US ISV which is now released globally. In Germany, this software will be available not just in German, but also in English. In France, this software will be available not just in French (fr-fr), but also in English. In Canada, the software will be available not just in French (fr-ca), but also in English (en-ca). A lot of emphasis is often placed in ensuring the software is locale ready, but not necessarily that it is English ready for global locations. One may argue that this is already covered as part of the internationalization testing. Yes, to a large extent. The product team is ensuring that the code base is culturally neutral and localizable. To ensure it is localizable besides internationalization, pseudo localization testing is also done. However, all of this is done with a key focus on localization. Once the base testing is done, the code base is quickly passed on for localization. However, when the product team is getting software globally ready, in the core English language as well, there are a few additional checks that need to be done to ensure the product is local market ready not just in the locale, but in the English version too. More than functionality or rendering, a lot here has to do with the content itself. Ensuring the content is suitable to the cultural palette of the local market is one main aspect. Secondly, ensuring the content is legally compliant to the market of release is another core focus area. Intuitiveness of the content is also an important point to consider as the vocabulary of the English language varies a lot across varied global locations. All of these may sound simple, but are often very time consuming given the volume of content that the evaluator is combing through and how the ones needing edits are often buried in the fine print of a large chunk of content. Herein, a combination of subject matter experts (such as legal advisors, local market specific sales and business people) are very useful. Additionally to gauge the intuitiveness elements, a select set of end users also come in very handy.
At the end of the day, while taking software into global markets, considerably expands its market share, it has a lot of intricate pieces to handle and an often overlooked yet important piece is this one on “Ensuring the English version of the software is also ready for a specific geography besides the localized version”. In this context, a great read is available on the msdn repository at:http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-in/goglobal/bb978434.aspx#EBF

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