Agile localization: l10n PMs, step aside

As we’ve read in Dunne’s book, one of the roles of the project manager (PM) is to faciliate all parties in their ability to efficiently complete their tasks. This often translates to what many of my colleagues have already labeled as, “File Pusher”-syndrome. I understand where this perception comes from; the PM is most visible it seems when they’re facilitating a project’s execution. Now that the world is moving to the Agile methodology, localization PMs need to find a leaner way to work and a less intrusive way of facilitating project execution.Why not turn to automation to fix this problem? Smarling already did, and it seems to be working well for them.

Now, I’m not advocating for Smartling’s particular platform to solve this, but I am convinced that removing PMs from the execution stage is part of enabling Agile l10n. Smartling’s approach allows a PM to automate several aspects of this process. For instace, PMs can assign individuals to particular roles, and observe passively as those individuals operate within the platform. These individuals are also able to respond and collaborate with one another without the PM getting involved. Let’s look at the “File Pusher” problem from this point of view: A PM can evaluate files and upload them into the platform. Then, when assigning roles, an in-house engineer or client-side engineer can be assigned to execute source file management and prep. Whenever a translator has source file issues, they can directly address the engineer within the platform. The engineer could even link up the platform into the client’s version control system and add a chronjob to kick off file prep and upload into the translation platform, so that the project’s files are regularly updated with changes.

This is just one example of PM tasks that could be automated. Can you think of others? Could this be the way toward Agile l10n?