5 Top Tips for Multilingual Project Management


Share this Article:

Our content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click links to our partners. Learn more in our Editorial & Advertising Policy.

When you work in project management, all manner of project requirements can test your skills. This is particularly true of multilingual projects. Not only do you need to consider how communication could be impacted for a project that is a multinational and multilingual project, but you also need to factor in cultural differences and even different countries’ religious holidays. Then there’s the localization element of the work, as well as the potential need for interpretation services.

Don’t let any of this put you off! Managing a multilingual project can be immensely rewarding for those project managers brave enough to attempt it. Just be sure that you have the right project management tools in place before you begin.

Read on for a quick whizz through the basics of how to manage a multilingual project successfully. We’ll skip past the basics of what project management is (you can find the answers to questions such as ‚ÄòWhat is project management?’ elsewhere on this website) and focus on the complexity of multilingual projects. Our five tips will serve to maximize your project’s chances of succeeding.

1. Find the Right Translation Agency

Whether your project activities include managing multilingual teams or simply connecting with multilingual audiences, having a translation company that you can trust on hand is essential. Look for a translation agency that has the capacity to flex its services at short notice; the best project managers plan ahead to deal with any potential issues that arise and planning for changing translation needs is no exception.

2. Consider Cultural Differences

This is an area where a professional translator can really prove their worth. Imagine you’ve been tasked with managing a project that includes both Spanish and English-speaking teams. If you don’t speak Spanish and aren’t familiar with the Spanish culture, then your Spanish translator will quickly become a vital resource. Not only will they be able to translate Spanish to English (and vice versa) in order to open the lines of communication between both teams, they will also be able to advise on everything from modern-day siesta etiquette to any religious festivities that might suddenly knock the Spanish team out of action for several days.

Recommended article: La Siesta in Spain – Spanish Siesta Tradition

3. Localize as Well as Translate

If part of your project involves reaching out to people in different countries, be sure to localize as well as translate. (What are localization services? The localization definition is, ‚Äòthe process of making something local in character or restricting it to a particular place.’)

 When applied to the translation process, this localization services definition means adapting the translated materials to suit each country’s audience.

Say you have a Spanish to English translator. If they’re localizing your project materials as well as simply undertaking a Spanish to English translation, they will need to flag up anything that won’t sit well with the English-speaking audience. This could be for cultural or religious reasons, relate to idioms that won’t translate well, concern practical details such as the date and time formats and a host of other reasons.  

Localizing your project materials rather than relying on translation services alone will enable you to connect better with those you need to reach.

4. Use Multilingual Project Tools

The multilingual definition is ‚Äòin or using several languages’ and multilingual project tools do just that. By providing language translation as an in-built part of their functionality, these tools allow project teams who speak different languages to interact constructively with the same systems, despite their linguistic differences. Zoho CRM, for example, supports 26 languages. Project management software Samepage is available in seven.

Whichever languages you need, search for the right multilingual tools to dramatically enhance your project efficiencies and build a cohesive team. Your translation agency can be a great source of advice in relation to such tools.

5. Don’t Shy Away from Interpretation Services

How much do interpretation services cost? Actually, far less than you might imagine. Don’t shy away from using interpretation services to facilitate face-to-face project meetings and video calls. Yes, they are more expensive than translation and localization services, but the value that an interpreter can deliver in terms of connecting teams should not be underestimated.

Consider, also, the cost of having to rectify a project management mistake made due to miscommunication. A small upfront spends on interpretation services can do much to mitigate the risk of this.

Final Thoughts

If you have any concerns about managing a project that involves another language, line them up and work through them with a reputable translation agency. You’ll quickly find that, while multilingual projects can be challenging, none of those challenges are insurmountable with the right support. By adding localization and interpretation into the mix, alongside translation, you’ll have the ideal mix of language services to run your project smoothly and efficiently, despite any language barriers that you may face.

Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.

Featured Partners

William Mamane Avatar

Get the Newsletter

Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.