The typical day as a localization coordinator kicks off with half a pot of coffee, which provides enough strength to tackle the email disasters that have appeared during the night. “Typical” may be a misleading word for any day in the life of a coordinator, but below I’ll provide a few examples of what they face during the course of a working day.
The coordinator oversees several projects simultaneously, and usually will not be able to focus on a single project for long; there’s always an email that requires immediate action. While at the office, the colleagues add another layer of chaos, as the coordinator usually takes part in their projects, as well. But even though interruptions become more frequent while working in the same room, getting live replies and decisions makes things a lot easier as opposed to working from home.
First thing in the morning, the coordinator plans the schedule of the day, as the customers are located in various time zones. The Japanese customers need something ready for publishing by the end of their working day, which means that the coordinator must deliver by noon in the Finnish time zone. During the night, the American customer has replied to questions from the previous day, and the coordinator allocates some time from the afternoon to react to those emails.
Before lunch, the coordinator continues working on a longer localization project involving a 200-page user guide with four target languages. Some of the files never made it to the translation agency, so the coordinator must figure out which files are missing and where to find them. Of course, at the same time there are several urgent emails about the Japanese product launch. Lunch seems a distant dream.
When the coordinator finally has a moment for lunch, the first meeting of the day is already almost starting. There are 50 different projects waiting to be checked with the customer, and all the while the coordinator quietly replies to a few emails. A sudden thought is scribbled on a note to remind of a question to a colleague, but after the meeting the coordinator finds out that said colleague has already relocated to the home office. A call, then – but did this particular person prefer Teams, Skype, or Slack?
Later, the coordinator gives the finishing touches to a PowerPoint presentation which will be presented at the afternoon development project meeting. Notes are taken of the various comments from the audience. A reliable pen and a notebook are essential. After the meeting, there is a moment to handle the emails from the American customer, as well as the last minute changes to other projects, such as changing Brazilian Portuguese to European Portuguese.
The coordinator faces new and surprising problems daily, which have produced a particular skillset. The most essential characteristics include organizational skills, scheduling skills, customer service skills, pressure tolerance, and teamwork skills.
It’s reasonable to say that the days of localisation coordinator are very different. One might also recommend coordinator work for any technical communicator as a learning experience!
– our loc coord team: Markku, Katri, Maaret, Heli, Katja