Localization metrics deep dive: From request to proposal

by | Aug 7, 2018

Factors affecting this KPI

  • Pricelist organization
  • Workload on project managers
  • Lack of automation
  • File preparation
  • Office hours and timezones
  • Deadline calculation issues

Discussed in this article

  • About the order to proposal
  • Factors to evaluate
  • Common improvements you can make

What is the order to proposal?

Category: Operations

Type: Metric

Definition: The order to proposal localization metric refers to the amount of time between the moment a customer makes an order and the moment you get back to the customer with a proposal.

Why should you work on this metric?

Each phase of a project contributes to the overall turnaround time, but each phase may also it’s own KPI, because sometimes serious problems are not visible in a single, entire-lifecycle measurement of time.

This particular metric essentially asks the question, Why are we slow to create proposals and respond to customer orders? Is it the deadline calculation? Is it our working hours or timezones? Are we overworked? Is it file preparation? Is it disorganization with pricelists?

Any slowness on this metric not only affects your turnaround time, but it also adversely affects your clients’ perception of the service. If you are quick on the response, you can create the impression that you are fast, even when the project itself is lagging.

Common improvements you can make to improve this metric

You’ll probably want to identify the area that needs the most work, and that is also achievable to fix for your organization.

Pricelist Organization

At the moment of submitting a proposal to a client, if your pricelist is disorganized or too complex, you’ll add time to your order to proposal time, and ultimately to the overall turnaround time.

Getting more organized is an easy way to make your whole organization better, while simultaneously improving this turnaround time. Organization always requires an up-front investment, but it usually pays for itself over time.

Workload on project managers

If your project managers do not have time to work on proposals because they are busy managing projects, then you may have a problem with workload.

There are a few options to consider:

  • Simply tell your project managers that they must respond to customer orders immediately, and let the chips fall where they may
  • Hire another project manager to ease that workload. It might be time to expand the team!
  • Restructure: Dedicate one person to work on client proposals, who then passes the projects to the project managers

Lack of automation

It is possible to automate quote proposals, translator assignments, and deadline calculation, instantly automating most or all of the order to proposal chain.

Doing this successfully may require investment. Factors for automatic assignment, for example, may tie into translator ratings, histories, or other factors. To make automation work for you and meet your quality expectations, you’ll have to use your TMS deliberately.

This investment starts to pay off when your clients are getting super quick service, creating the impression that your organization is really on top of it.

Office hours and timezones

So much of this issue depends on how you do business and deliver projects. Nevertheless, it’s common to add 15-16 hours to your order to proposal time simply because your team was asleep (literally).

If you are accustomed to working with and training remote teams, getting help in other timezones might help you cut down on this time. Delivering your proposals quickly and timely will not only impress your customers, but it will also make your whole operation better.

File preparation

What we mean by file preparation is really anything that needs to be done either to the file, or in your translation system, before you can get the proposal sent out. For example checking a document for stamps, doing an OCR, setting up an XML configuration or multilingual Excel mapping… all of that is file preparation.

We think that there are three common issues with file preparation that any organization may have:

  • The wrong person is handling the file preparation
  • You have to dedicate more time to training
  • You are losing or not hiring enough talent

How can you transfer this deep knowledge from one team member to another? How can you raise the level of your whole organization? The answers to those questions may very well help you reduce the order to proposal KPI!

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