July 15, 2024


[MUSAI] Localization PMs are doing nothing or everything? – Part 1. The role of localization project manager



All kinds of the industry have a group of people called ‘project manager’. When a new project is started, the first step is assigning a project manager. When problems and questions are occurred, people find them as usual. Their existence is very natural, but not many people know their exact role and importance.


Localization project managers, especially PMs in a translation agency or other service agency are even more underestimated sometimes. They are counted as a “boring communicator” who just passes the works or a “poor sandwich” who is always stressful between the client and agency.


No matter what people think, there is no doubt that the more complicated the project is, the more they need a person who manages all the process and resources. Furthermore, as for the game localization projects, the project managers have a huge influence not only on the process but also on the quality of the project. Again, the quality of the project. If you have thought that the quality of the project is up to linguists like translators, editors, it may sound interesting. Let me explain how it comes.


What is the mission of the localization project manager?

Before we get to the point, we will find the meaning of projects in the localization industry first.

“A project is a task that should be done within a limited time with restricted resources.”

To the localization agency, a project means “a task that should be done within a limited time with restricted resources”. ‘A limited time’ means the delivery date of the project and ‘the restricted resources’ means the available human and monetary resources in a budget.


Of course, if the time and budget are unlimited, anyone can guarantee the best output. For example, you may want to set about a year only for translation with tons of experienced linguists for your project. But we all know it’s not going to be happened in the real world. All projects have a promised schedule and budget, and that’s why the mission of the project managers is to satisfy their clients with the best quality in the reasonable allocation of time and resources.


What is the localization process?

Next, we will move on to the localization process. Please check the image below.

[Photo 1] The localization process (Source: Musai Studio)

The reason I show you the localization process is to explain the responsibilities of project manager. The project manager is usually involved from the RFP and RFQ stage (Step 2) to the closure (Step 11). That means localization PMs manage most of the process, especially they spend more time and effort on the preparation (Step 4) and delivery of the project (Step 7).


The responsibility of project manager is extensive (that’s why it’s hard for people to recognize what they are doing though), and that means various skills are required to cover them. The basic knowledge about localization range from translation and voiceover to the technical skills about software and engineering is necessary. In addition, they should know how to make a proper proposal, quotation and invoice. These tasks may belong to the sales and finance department, but the support from a project manager is surely needed.


Most of all, communication skills are the most important for professional project managers. The main role of the project manager is connecting clients, translators, and teammates smoothly, which is based on their communication skills. And it can affect the result of the work significantly. It’s easy to think simply that the quality of localization project is up to the linguists and their abilities. However, it’s not the only factor.


Let’s say there is a game with a context including slangs and profanities, and the client and translator have different opinions about the violent level of expression. The translator used severe expressions for more immersive storytelling based on the analysis of the entire contents but client worried about the deliberation and rating. In this situation, the project manager should find the best compromise for the quality between the client’s intention and the translator’s judgement through communication.


As for a localization agency, project managers are also one of the important factors in terms of reputation of the company. They communicate with clients as a representative of the company, and both project quality and client satisfaction can be improved depending on their management skills in spite of the limited resources. Therefore, they can be a crucial position to conclude the continuous contract with the clients.

[Photo 2] The project managers at Musai Studio (Source: Musai Studio)


However, localization service is one of the game service industry. As for a game service provider, the high-quality service should be guaranteed to provide regardless of the size of projects. That’s what the agency has to pursue as the people on behalf of the clients for the project. Therefore, the existence of project managers is an effort to improve the quality of the service that the agency provides. For the best quality, the communication among each party is inevitable.


Nevertheless, there are many questions and misunderstandings regarding project managers sometimes. We will keep the topic about the most common questions and misunderstanding about project managers from the client’s side for the next story.



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