08 May 2012

From small fish to big

Following on from my posting of 5 May, I would like to set out a couple of thoughts for the benefit of big companies with multiple subsidiaries and more specifically for head office website management teams. Many of the sorts of companies I refer to choose a decentralised model for website management which is to say that each subsidiary, and often each division as well, is free to manage its websites as it sees fit, save for standard corporate logos and the standardisation of selected features. Whatever the mix, freedom as to suppliers of services from detailed website design to copywriting and localisation, appears to be the norm. Which is all well and good.

However, when it is realised that workflow management is the key to higher efficiency, faster turnaround, reduced stress and low costs, some aspects deserve more analysis and thought. The time to do this sort of things is when the head office website management team is having a quiet spell. Here are some suggestions as to how to proceed.

Given that increased control by head office is probably not the way to do, I would suggest that head office produce and/or subcontract the draft of a series of guidelines for the benefit of all interested subsidiaries and divisions with a view to making there lives a little easier.

1) As mentioned on 5 May, rank the existing websites as regards the quality of the copywriting, localisation, graphics, etc.
2) Pool or catalogue all available resources for copywriters, localisation teams, graphic artists, etc.
3) Draft guidelines (or adapt existing ones from leading websites) on best practice as to tools, procedures and workflows, including  detailed costings of the in-house and budgetary costs of optimal and suboptimal procedures.
4) Draw up lists of previous suppliers (complete with customer satisfaction feedback) and recommended suppliers, including feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of each. You might, for instance, recommend different translators for a corporate image website and a catalogue-type website given that the first calls for persuasive, flowing and culturally sensitive styles while the second calls for thorough terminological research.
5) Draft or outsource reports on workflow choices and their benefits.
6) Cost, as accurately as possible, the total final cost of producing a new website (detailing assumptions as to size, layout, etc.) as a rush project with piecemeal copywriting, translation and layout compared to a well planned project. No one is suggesting that rush projects can always be avoided, only that management teams should be aware of the true cost of their choices.
7) Plan ahead to incorporate lessons learned so that this collection of guidelines remains an up-to-date, cost-effective resource benefiting all subsidiaries and divisions that wish to use it.

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