April 25, 2024


[MUSAI] L10N PMs are doing nothing or everything? – Part 2. three common misconceptions most people think about L10n PMs


In the previous article, we took a look at the role and importance of localization project managers. The localization project managers are usually treated as a simple communicator or a person in charge of the process only, but now we know they have a huge effect on the quality of the project as well. (Review the first article of the localization project manager here: http://blog.musaistudio.com/musai-localization-pms-are-doing-nothing-or-everything-part-1-the-role-of-localization-project-manager)

As we mentioned last time, we will keep discussing the localization project manager, focusing on the question or misunderstanding about them from the client side rather than the details of the job.


Q1. Did you assign a junior PM for my project because the size of the project is small?

A. The project size is not the only critical factor for the PM assignment. Big sized projects are usually more complicated and have more potential risk, so experienced senior project managers are considered suitable. A massive title means there are a lot of things to take care of and the professional management skills are required indeed.

However, when assigning PMs to each project, various attributes are counted as decisive factors such as references of the PM, the characteristics of the client, the requirement skills for the project like engineering and linguistic abilities along with the management skills.

And there is one more thing to be highlighted, the game localization PMs are mostly gamers, and have their own favorite genre or IP. When a PM is assigned to the project related to their preference, not only their satisfaction but also the quality and efficiency of the project can be noticeably improved. Therefore, the preference of PMs is another considerable factor for the PM assignment.

In conclusion, those factors mentioned above are several examples and it’s not always true that the size of the project is the only factor when assigning PMs.


Q2. While I collaborated with localization agencies for several times, I found out the communication style is different among the PMs depending on the size of the agency. Which one do you recommend either big or small?

A. It’s hard to generalize the characteristics of localization agencies based on the size of the company but we tried to give you some examples below for your understanding. To get to the point, we would like to recommend deciding where you work with depending on the condition and requirement that your project needs rather than the size of agencies.

MLV and large-sized l10n agency

The global MLV and giant agencies usually have their own  process in detail and tend to stick to the rules without questions. This is very effective to proceed multiple projects in different languages and PMs manage their project according to the process thoroughly.

The benefit of this system is that there is no big difference in the outcome regardless of the PM since all PMs follow the fixed process. Thus, this system of MLV and large-sized agency is good for the project to require the efficiency and speed of the process as a priority, whereas it’s not going to be easy for the project to need flexibility.

Small-sized agency

Small-sized agencies have only a few resources so senior managers usually work on both account management and project management. The localization industry is quite a narrow market, so lost partnership and damaged reputation due to PMs lead to a drop in sales directly and that possibly cause the danger of existence for the company. For those reasons, even though a junior PM is assigned, a senior PM or management of the agencies mostly monitor the overall process of the project.  

In this case, the process is flowing flexibly according to the condition of the project, which is a strong benefit. However, the output can be different depending on the overall capability of the company. For example, if you ask the small-sized vendors to shorten the due date, they can accept your request more easily comparing to the big-sized vendors.  But you should consider that the delivery schedule and quality are inversely proportional.

To wrap it up, the big-sized agencies deliver output with above-average quality, but they are not much flexible comparing small sized-one. There are always pros and cons, so it’s up to client’s decision.


Q3. Some agencies charge 10 percent for project management, others don’t. Why?

A. As we discussed in the last article, localization PMs are necessary not only for the process but also the quality of the project. If they are involved in a project, it’s reasonable to include the cost of their loads in any ways. Nevertheless, if you can’t find ‘project management’ in the table of your quotation, you can guess that the cost is included in other items.

Additionally, 10 percent of the entire cost for project management has always been a target for negotiation because people thought that it seemed easy to be discounted. That’s why some clients misunderstand that it’s an unnecessary charge to add an extra profit for agencies.

However, there are cases where charge the management fee or not depending on the type of the agency. When an agency has a contract with a client directly, the project management fee is normally charged. On the other hand, if it is sub-vender model which means a project from a MLV or big-sized l10n company, generally the agency can’t charge of the management fee since the company who ordered the project usually take care of the overall preparation for the project in advance.


If one cog is broken, the whole cogwheels are not engaging. Likewise, to complete the whole process successfully, all localization members should keep their position without any missing. The localization project managers have not been highlighted so far but it doesn’t mean their importance is less than other positions for the project. Hope this series of the article gives you a wider understanding of their roles and the localization projects overall.

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