There are two approaches to KPIs in general and to localization in particular.
1.) If you do not change an indicator, how would you know that any change occurred (this is from the side of those who introduce KPIs)?
2.) What the hell can you somehow measure that is immeasurable/what’s the bloody point (those against the introduction of KPIs)?
The truth of localization is probably not in the legs but between these two poles.
Both translation and localization are extremely subjective. For instance, marketing materials should not be translated at all (what I mean is, translated without adaptation) to avoid idiotic situations. Everything to do with literary translations and the cultural features of a target market is connected to adaptation and transcreation in one way or another.
Everything is easier and more understandable with technical translations as they may be measured using quantitative and qualitative methods.
KPIs are usually most often required when the ROI needs to be measured. Budgeting for translation/localisation/culturisation is difficult to carry out without some form of metric.
KPIs in processes
I generally really like to build processes and plan things.
Let’s assume the metrics that should be applied to the processes of localization work.
- The percentage of correct results at the first attempt
- The percentage of translation errors
- The percentage of project goals that have not been achieved
- The expenses for the translation of a unit of text (a word)
- The net profit from every translation project (something that’s great for translation agencies)
- The level of client satisfaction (based on surveys and the like)
KPIs for reaching goals
This is where it is important to understand whether you have reached those targets that localization was made for. The conquest of new markets and the raising of brand recognition and the increase in client satisfaction.
What could be a KPI at this stage?
- The number of new users from the markets you have reached due to localization
- Traffic (arranged by language and country)
- Market share
- CTR (improvement of ASO and SEO)
- Localization ROI in general
When you develop KPIs for your own projects you must first use common sense, always asking yourself, “What would this indicator give me in reality apart of my own knowledge of it?”
Numbers for the sake of numbers themselves will consume time and resources, which will affect the true effectiveness of your activities.
“It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
That is why KPIs, even if you do decide to enter them, should be strictly restricted and the metrics themselves should tie in with precisely defined and achievable goals.