Shrinking the Triangle in Software Development


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Shrinking the Triangle in Software Development

  1. 1. Shrinking the TriangleThis article was originally featured in the Oct./Nov. 2010 issue of MultiLingual Computing Magazine, inAdam Asnes’ Business Side column. Read the article “Shrinking the Triangle” on MultiLingual’s Website orat, Quick, and Cheap?Good, quick, cheap – pick any two. Project managers will tell you this project triangle is the way it has tobe. Fair enough in the short run, but there is a dynamic perspective to this particular triangle that staticview will ignore.Fulfilling New Market Vistas and Adaptation A truism of technology is that it serves as a great flattener, ultimately destroying pricing and economies in one area, only to give rise to new and hopefully broadening opportunities. The rise and effect of communication technologies that join markets, customers and workers are a remarkable example accelerating change in the speed of fulfilling new market vistas and adaptation. Our industry thrives in this, connecting products, messages, vendors, clients and communities in far flung cultures. Yet, the barrier to entering the localization industry is really not so tough. You need a bit of expertise, contacts, some sales savvy and you’re in business. Noexpensive machinery or large capitalization needed. But at some point, you are going to need somethingto help you shrink the distances separating good, quick and cheap.So how’s business? And if you’re on the client side, how are your budgets? It seems our industry hasn’tseen the brunt of revenue devastation that many others have in the current economic slowdown. And assome measure of that, recent vendor and buyer surveys from Common Sense Advisory have providedmore than anecdotal support for relative industry strength and confidence – even if vendors seem to bemore optimistic than clients. On a personal level, this in turn feeds my confidence as a business owner toexpand offerings, spend more on R&D, marketing, and (gasp), even hire new employees.On InternationalizationSoftware internationalization, which is what my firm concentrates on, is actually a pretty good harbingerof the mood of the tech industry. That’s because internationalization requires a fresh and significantinvestment in future revenues, rather than maintaining localization on an existing product distribution
  2. 2. release schedule. In fact, internationalization can stick out as a pretty large budget item at a time when tech companies have done well to minimize expenses and maximize profits on less to flat revenues. And while you never want to believe too deeply in generalized economic trajectories when getting specific about company forecasts, the investors’ expression “the trend is your friend” comes to mind. This means the onus has never been stronger on emphasizing the business case for internationalization and ultimately succeeding in new markets, while also finding new ways to bring together best Watch as Industry professionals discuss shrinking the good, quick & cheap triangle of breed technology and people to make the work cost less with more predictability. It’s a great story, but the pressure remains on to tighten that triangle. Internationalization andlocalization must compete with any number of other potential revenue opportunities, strategic initiativesand cost pressures. I don’t want to imply that there isn’t a great deal of truth behind the good, quick or cheaptriangle, but we are especially pressed to tighten the space between those choices. Whenever I hearsomeone use that saying (it’s usually when someone is trying to sell me something) I’m always lookingfor a way out. How do we continuously find ways to produce better things, faster and for a lower cost?That’s what the promise of technology, combined with improved people processes and greater access toknowledge all have to offer. But particularly in the localization industry, at some point, it’s challenging toget around human processes that don’t scale so well, so we are back to good, quick, cheap – pick anytwo. Yet we all chip away at this, finding ways to move code or words along faster, better, cheaper. Thisis basic principle of technical advancement, but often in the throw of daily work, do we give ourselves thetime to map out and affect these three competing attributes at once? When we talk with our managersand clients, are we given the latitude, time and budget to change processes and technologies even in theface of competing budget demands?Tightening the TriangleIn many cases, the methods of tightening the triangle may not even reside within your firm, or yourvendor’s firm. In fact, it may be healthier to look beyond any all-in-one offering. For instance, my firmhas been partnering with many vendors right from its inception. We focus onproviding internationalization tools and development services, a software development endeavor.Software development is a highly different skill set than managing words for localization, so a naturalpartnership opportunity arises, as does the potential for misunderstandings (see: Bridging the Gapbetween Software Development and Localization). We also just began a partnership with a company witha product that supports internationalized documentation writing. That’s a natural fit that only benefitscustomers. So it makes sense to partner companies, and then take it one step further by integratingprocesses and services together for an outcome that reduces the size of the triangle. Note that I’m notjust referring about trading logo’s on websites, which is partnering in name only.
  3. 3. Exports to from Germany to China are up by almost 60% this year. No other segment of German foreigntrade is growing as quickly. It follows that this kind of economic relationship ties nations, politics,workforces, just as much as goods and services. We are seeing the triangle getting smaller in action.Though China rightfully gets lots of press, there are other places having very exciting growing trends. Infact, the fastest forecasted economic GDP growth rate for 2010 is actually from Qatar (16.4% – 2010 to 2020 has been predicted to be the African decade, with rapid growthforecast for many nations on that continent. How will this affect our triangle and our industry? Probablyquite nicely!There Will Be Winners and Losers But there’s more to this equation. With these trends for global markets gaining purchasing power, there is also ample opportunity for the flow of technology to go the other way. All that market diversity, along with developing labor shakes things up. One would hope that the opportunities make up for the commercial pricing stress that could accompany expansion, but there will be winners and losers. Additionally, we can expect new opportunities from untraditional channels. For example, we currentlyFrom Worldware Localization Conference: have a new client which is essentially a financial group thatThe Rise of Chindia – Opportunity or Threat? purchased Chinese technology and is remarketing itelsewhere. In this case, they are not considering entering the US market just yet, but starting in placeslike India where competition is not so dense. So they are buying good technology for less money, to sellto new markets with lower barriers to entry. I’d call that a creative way to tighten the triangle.About LingoportFounded in 2001, Lingoport provides extensive software localization and internationalization consultingservices. Lingoport’s Globalyzer software, a market leading software internationalization tool, helps entireenterprises and development teams to effectively internationalize existing and newly developed sourcecode and to prepare their applications for localization. An Introduction to Lingoport’s Globalyzer: