An immense amount of money is being invested into training employees and for good reason. No matter what industry you are in, technology can only take you so far. Employees ultimately drive a company’s innovation, growth, customer engagement and profits. When we get great people, we want to keep them.

Companies globally pony-up significant dollars into training employees. By the end of 2015, the global e-learning market is expected to reach $107 billion. Training Industry published the following statistics regarding global spend on corporate training in 2014:

  • $322.2B spent globally on training
  • $150.2B spent within North America
  • 4.9 percent annual growth
  • 42 percent training budgets spent on outsource suppliers

Once your company determines the need to launch training in multiple languages, the fun begins. With approximately 7 percent of budgets planned for localization of training content in 2014, there can be a significant risk. In North America, this is an $11B investment in employee training in a language other than English.

With expansion into other markets, the need to develop training for much broader audiences becomes more mainstream for the developer. With companies becoming leaner on internal staffing, it is apparent that this will shift to more outsourcing. There are more than 27,000 language service providers according to The Common Sense Advisory (2014). As with any service provider in any industry, some are definitely better than others.

Developing successful training becomes exponentially more complicated with a need to train across a wide variety of languages. With more than 7,000 living languages, chances are you’ll be learning about languages that you didn’t even know existed five years ago. Most likely, you’ll be learning on the fly.

So, to a certain extent, localization involves a leap-of-faith for the developer. No one can know every language but you can be an informed consumer of language services. Whether partnering with a language service provider or internal resources, this knowledge will guide you into making informed choices and minimizing risk.

Here are a few tips to help ensure your success:

Select the right target language.

By defining the true audience, you can determine the dialects involved. If you are dealing with more than one dialect, your team should reflect that group as whole as closely as possible. The localized training needs to be cross-cultural, appropriate and accurately convey the information. If you are indeed blending dialects, you’ll never be able to satisfy 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time. The important focus is an understanding of the training content.

Back-translations to meet regulatory requirements.

Back-translations are designed to catch errors and mistranslations and will not be suitable for public consumption. These will be more literal since they are designed as a check-and-balance process to catch errors. You’ll also need to plan for additional working days to address any corrections that are brought forth from this process.

Subject matter expert alignment.

Subject matter expert alignment in your translation is just as critical as they are in your English development. The translator’s credentialing and experience should align with those you are training. If not, you’ll end up with a sub-par translation.

Be wary of making a selection based on lowest cost when outsourcing, no matter what the task. More often than not, you get what you pay for. Professional and experienced translators, voice talent, project managers and localization engineers will not be the least expensive. The experience and expertise they’ll bring to your projects is well worth the nominal additional costs.

It’s always good to know your priority and what you are willing to flex on if you need to. Find the best balance between, cost, quality and turnaround time.

Technical platforms may have issues with fonts or language nuances.

Diacritical marks, stacking, and script-based languages don’t always play nicely with every tool. You will want to identify character limitations for onscreen navigation (LMS, web, mobile) up front. This can make a huge difference in maintaining your budget and your production timeline. Always use Unicode fonts.

Text expansion.

This will affect both text and audio. Do not cut the original video too tight during final editing. E-learning authoring tools can have the onscreen text timed to match the new audio. Remember, videos can only be stretched so far before compromising the quality.

Acronyms, slang and colloquialisms.

Avoid them when you can. If you can’t, the translation should leave the acronym in English with a parenthetical explanation in the target language. If you need to use slang or colloquialisms, as in the case of marketing content, these should be completely replaced by the appropriate term or phrase for the local market audience.

Maintain your corporate culture and terminology across a broad lexicon of content.

Style guides, glossaries and translation memories can help maintain this consistency. It is critical to keep them up-to-date. To ensure your vendor consistently does this, require these to be a part of your final deliverables.

Maintain costs and production timelines.

Develop your production calendar with benchmarks based on input from all vested parties. Get the sign-offs and hold people accountable. This will help keep you on track and within budget.

If you have an internal review process, give your reviewers clear guidelines and deadlines. Ensure the reviewer speaks the same dialect as your target and understands the subject matter. A bilingual skill does not make an internal reviewer qualified. Making unnecessary stylistic and incorrect edits during the internal review process causes an additional translator review, adding time and expense.

The script needs to be reviewed and vetted before any audio recording is done and synced. Deciding you don’t like something after the audio is recorded results in another recording session and additional engineering hours. These will be most likely treated as author’s alterations and billed in addition. This will also add working days to your production schedule not planned for.


Developing training for global audiences should not be painful. It should be a smooth process. By doing your homework up front, you’ll be able to anticipate and plan much more effectively. A global training initiative can be developed smoothly and successfully with the right information, good planning, smart resourcing, and making informed decisions. Invest the time and complete your due diligence so you can be confident when handing off. Once done, you’ll set yourself up for success and your employees with thank you for it.