Still using spreadsheets for localization? Switching to a TMS boosts productivity by 75%

Spreadsheets for translation management: the dinosaur that somehow got missed by the asteroid and now refuses to die.

Yet many companies in the process of localizing their content and digital products still rely on spreadsheets. They do so for some of the following reasons:

  • The localization process owners neglect the complexity, costs, and the amount of effort required from different teams participating in localization projects
  • The organization might be skeptical about investing in new tools and the value their users will get
  • An outsourced translation agency proposed spreadsheets as the way to handle string translations
  • There is internal resistance to adopting a new tool and changing work methods

Chances are, you too are familiar with the enormous file with endless columns and rows that requires continuous checking and refreshing. Translators, developers, UX designers, and yourself, all collaborating within a program that was never intended for localization projects in the first place.

Yet, there you are: squinting your eyes as you look at the cells, trying to manage workflows, and download and upload CSV files… The works.

In going through this exhausting process over and over, have you ever stopped for a moment to think about whether there’s a better way to do this?

Well, we have some good news for you.

A translation management system is tailored to your needs

As the localization process owner, you have a lot on your plate. From ensuring overall budget performance and a healthy project pace to enabling cross-team collaboration through streamlined communication – the list goes on.

You certainly want to do your job well and with minimal hassle. To ensure your localization project is a success, you need a tool or a program that can help you:

  • Cut back-and-forth communications down to size
  • Easily centralize all your multilingual content management
  • Optimize workflows and automate processes for the best end results
  • Conveniently manage the project with sufficient information about everyone’s workloads
  • Maintain translation consistency and ensure fast delivery of all languages
  • Prevent any delays and shorten time to market

In all honesty, do spreadsheets check any of the above-mentioned things off your list of requirements?

To be fair, spreadsheets are great for data analysis and they have their place in creating budgets, projecting revenue growth, or calculating taxes. However, they are designed primarily for managing numbers, not words.

In contrast, translation management systems (TMS) are designed specifically for the needs of everyone participating in the localization ecosystem. They serve as a single source of truth and recognize the real pain points users have during the localization process.

Did you know?… Compared to top competitors in the industry, Lokalise is the only translation management system that has live in-context editors for both web and mobile, meaning you can see an instant preview of translated content on different devices. Sign up for a free trial to see it in action.

The numbers don’t lie – localization can be much simpler

Usually, the process of localization using spreadsheets looks something like this:

Localization using spreadsheets

As you can see, the process is quite inefficient. But it doesn’t have to be.

The localization project manager at Webgains, one of our customers, has delighted us by sharing how switching from spreadsheets to Lokalise has positively impacted their productivity:

“I needed an hour for all translations prep within a spreadsheet for a batch of keys and languages, but now that only takes about 15 min with Lokalise tasks feature.”

Translated to percentages, this amounts to a 75% boost in productivity.

You can even calculate the approximate cost savings. The average annual salary for localization project managers in the U.S. is around $76,000. Divide this figure by 2080 hours (which is the total amount of working hours per year) and you’ll get an hourly rate of around $36.

$76,000 / 2080 = ~$36

A typical software company will do a minimum of one release every two weeks (Sprint). That is around 24 releases per year. Let’s assume that there are 5 review tasks per release. That is 120 review tasks per year that were taking an hour each using spreadsheets. Lokalise helps to reduce this time to 15 minutes, which leads us to the following calculation:

120 * $36 * 0.75 = $3,240

This is a very conservative estimate of how much you would save on a l10n manager only. But Lokalise also saves developers’ time – at least the same amount of hours per release (if not more). Now imagine if the company has multiple software types to release, e.g. ten products that are simultaneously worked on. That is 240 releases per year and a larger team; it is not uncommon for many of our customers to save more than $100k per year.

The thing is, with advanced TMS solutions – developers don’t need to waste time synchronizing translations between the TMS and code repositories. Integrations with popular code hosting services such as GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and Azure Repos enable the immediate import and export of translations in just a couple of clicks. In addition, translation teams can work on different features in parallel.

This is just one example that directly quantifies the benefits of using a customer-centric translation management system. Other success stories report better quality management of translations, increased market share, faster time to market thanks to automation, improved cross-team collaboration, positive impacts on team morale, and much more (of course, don’t take our word for it – see for yourself).

In a nutshell, spreadsheets might seem like a straightforward solution for cross-team collaboration, but we beg to differ.

Did you know?… Excel files might even jeopardize your project and break a lot of languages during the translation process. This is something that actually happened to Ricardo Izquierdo, Senior QA Manager at Lingokids before they decided to migrate from spreadsheets to dedicated localization software. Thanks to the GitHub integration in Lokalise, their developers had less work and didn’t have to waste time on manual tasks.

The alternative that should have been the first choice all along

So, what would be the key to localization success? Automation of workflows and breaking the silo effect with a single workspace everyone loves.

With Lokalise, you have the power to structure the translation process in a way you want and to give freedom to developers, designers, and translators to do their best work.

Here are a few key features you are likely to love as the localization process owner:

Feature in Lokalise Why you’ll love it
Lokalise Chat, Slack & email integration, and comments on keys Structured and centralized communication with all internal and external team members. Avoid multiple iterations with the QA and prevent unnecessary delays.
Tasks, Activity log, Statistics A great bird’s-eye view of everyone’s workload, deadlines, bottlenecks, and more. Analyze progress and minimize the revision cycle. Properly organize task ownership for a healthy project pace.
Activity log, Statistics, Project snapshots, Tasks, and Slack & email notifications Tracking changes has never been easier, plus everyone is in the loop. No more chasing messages and jotting down reminders. In addition, project snapshots serve as an effective backup solution; if something goes wrong, you can easily restore the project and revert all the changes.
Orders, Statistics, Word count, vendor rate cards, and outsourced translation cost calculations Budget planning within the same software. Invite in-house or outsourced translators to work on the project, create tasks, share context, and provide feedback. You can even use Lokalise to hire third-party translation services. A veritable one-stop shop.
Role-based functions and integrations that allow users to immediately get:

– Additional context (Key descriptions, Screenshots, Sketch Integration, Figma, Adobe XD)

– Task clarity (Task assignment, Asana integration, Jira, Trello)

– Automated task notifications (via Slack, email)

All key contributors under one roof. No more unproductive back-and-forths, no more misunderstandings, no more frustration. Simultaneously work on developing features and localizing them for your target markets.
– Built-in, customizable QA checks

– Character limit control

– Automated duplicate finder

– Terminology management (Glossaries)

– Translation memories

Preventive measures to reduce the number of errors in the QA process ensure:

– That translators have not accidentally deleted HTML tags or placeholders

– That translators have not exceeded the space limit

– Higher consistency in translations due to better management of duplicates across keys and platforms

– Better alignment with terminology requirements since the suggested terminology pops-up is integrated into the translation editor

– All the corrections made in the past are visible to translators as they encounter similar translations and they do not repeatedly make the same mistakes


Did you know?… Lokalise is a tool that enables over-the-air localization, which means no more unnecessary app updates: publish translations to iOS and Android apps instantly with an OTA SDK. In addition, you can access comprehensive localization data concerning usage of your mobile app, e.g. see which are the most popular device languages among your current app users, and set immediate priorities for the next languages to be added. Sign up for a free trial to check it out.

Will you be the one to lead the change? We’re rooting for you.

When you’re trying to introduce a new tool to your localization project, you are essentially getting into the process of change management. Change has to come from the top in order to be fully implemented within a business organization.

Ideally, the company’s leaders should generate enthusiasm, support employees, and clearly communicate the value of each individual contribution. They should be vocal about how getting all people (who participate in the localization project) on the same page creates a win-win scenario.

Here are a couple of key points that you should mention to your team during discussions about investing in localization software:

  • During the localization project, it’s important to understand the context behind the content and establish an information architecture that fits your organization. Spreadsheets don’t provide that.
  • There has to be a single source of truth that’s accessible to everyone and easy to comprehend.
  • An intuitive interface can boost the team’s productivity levels which contributes to faster delivery across multiple languages.
  • Integrations and workflow automations are great because they allow you to maximize the tools your team is already using, eliminating double-work and idle waiting.

[Read more about how to assemble the best localization team]

Speak your customers’ language

At Lokalise, we carry out our product development process by listening to customer feedback and creating features we know you need. We are aware of the frustration that comes with decentralizing your localization efforts, which is why we carefully introduce new features that support your international growth.

With a single shared workspace, you can enjoy increased efficiency and fewer errors, which ultimately leads to a faster launch.

No reason to get lost in translation: join successful companies such as Revolut, Monday.com, Ocado, Aircall, and others that trust Lokalise as their ally in the quest for global growth.

Book a demo for Lokalise to discover just how productive your team can become. No more copy-pasting across Excel or Word, and no more tiring back-and-forths.

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