05 May 2022

Alpha CRC and PayPal. Finding a solution for growth through localization.

Alpha CRC and PayPal. Finding a solution for growth through localization.

Alpha CRC, an Efficient Enterprise Localization company, had been providing PayPal with linguistic review and LQA services for five years. In 2018, the fintech giant wanted to overhaul its localization after a review of their spending.
The company, which was relying on several vendors as part of its localization supply chain, found that multiple review, revision and testing cycles were expensive and quality was inconsistent throughout the process. Because of the large number of vendors involved, there was little to no coherent identification with PayPal branding, and it was difficult to adapt the localization process to keep up with growth.

After meeting with Alpha CRC to discuss how to solve these issues, the PayPal Vice President agreed to a unique program that Alpha CRC has termed ‘the Language Expert model’.


Challenges leading to ‘Language Expert model’ implementation

As PayPal grew, the scale and cost of their localization also escalated. The company needed to localize in 100+ languages across 200 markets to service more than 300 million customers. To manage costs, the approach had been to focus on lowering spend on cost-per-word translation, then ensuring quality through numerous review and quality assurance stages.

Naturally focused on low-cost translation, the company had struggled to retain good translators with expansive product knowledge. Consequently, there was a reduced sense of quality ownership or partnership with PayPal from the translation teams, and a subsequent lack of wholehearted engagement with the work itself.

Measuring localization quality had also become more problematic as traditional automated systems, such as adaptation rules and substitution tables, were neither broad enough nor specialized enough to cover the many elements of PayPal product personalization across different markets. Processes that operate on basic substitution principles are less efficient at coping with factors such as omissions and additions, multiple variations and hardcoded content.

As a final consideration, the PayPal executives managing the localization process did not have the necessary language skills to assess quality of localization output in target languages and, in particular, little insight into the local customer experience specific to every region.


Language Experts working within dedicated vendor teams

The big difference in Alpha CRC’s new ‘Language Expert model’ was the functional integration of translation, review and quality assurance. A core and stable team of Language Experts (LEs) now focus on the adaptation-rule process, which is still used for specific PayPal localization functions, as well as transadaptation. This means they could use their subject matter expertise (of both the client and the online payments market) together with their own in-country linguistic and cultural knowledge to both translate and adapt source content from US English to fit the linguistic, legal and feature requirements of their target language.

The approach was developed at a strategic level, then rolled out in stages over a two-year period. The scope of the work initially covered product translation alongside miscellaneous language support, including research, language assets maintenance and process improvement.
Paid for full-time work rather than by the word, the team of LEs, who covered the multiple roles of translation, transadaptation, review and quality assurance, could then focus on the quality of work rather than the volume delivered.

Instead of working with multiple localization vendors for different languages, and across different functions (e.g. translation, review, linguistic quality assurance), PayPal now uses two vendors (Alpha CRC and one other, split by language) with dedicated teams that are each responsible for ensuring linguistic quality.
To build a team of highly qualified LEs, Alpha CRC hired linguists at competitive market rates in order to attract more experienced candidates and encourage employee retention. Currently, the in-house team numbers 31 full-time LEs working across 28 languages. In the early stages, the team’s training focused on product knowledge and developing a resource pool that would promote long-term project continuity.

The team is fully equipped in terms of staff, time and training to deliver exceptional quality work throughout the entire process. The team also includes dedicated back-up LEs – two for each language – who take on the extra work when volume levels rise, so the quality of output is not compromised at any stage.


Creation of a cloud-based localization platform

The introduction of a new cloud-based in-context localization platform ensures that the workflow is accessible from anywhere in the world, as well as streamlining the hosting of language assets. This is a key tool that addresses issues related to security, efficiency, cost, and scalability of localization functions.

The early success of this new model for product content led PayPal to contract Alpha CRC from April 2021, implementing it into the localization of select marketing content.

Based primarily at Alpha CRC’s global HQ in Cambridge, UK, the team of Language Experts also has a presence in Estonia, the Czech Republic, Mexico and Brazil. The team is continuously expanding its knowledge of PayPal and its products, enhanced via a series of interactive training workshops in which LEs share their experiences, knowledge and challenges within the project so far.

From the outset, the program has been based on the principles of transparency and buy-in from all stakeholders. A dedicated vendor-success team was created by PayPal to ensure optimal collaboration with the Alpha CRC team across its business units. Costs on both sides were shared, including profitability projections, rates and salaries, which helped to establish real costs and realistic budget allocations.


Steps to Success

  • Refocus translation away from the greatest volume at the lowest cost onto a broader, more valuable activity paid for full-time, not by word
  • Create an environment where translators could produce translations without the need for review/QA cycles
  • Dedicate translators to PayPal, to understand the product thoroughly and take responsibility for respective language assets
  • Treat translation as more than a 1:1 exercise, involving the Language Experts’ own cultural and market awareness
  • Reject the traditional quality framework, judging translation quality by the experience of end users
  • Promote collaboration between translators for different languages, benefitting from each other’s insights
  • Develop relationships with PayPal stakeholders with regular briefings and feedback
  • Involve translators with end-users in-country and work with them to improve their user experience

Looking to the future

In April 2021, Alpha CRC added PayPal marketing localization to its existing product content localization, translated and transadapted by the dedicated team of LEs.

This represents a huge opportunity to drive even greater value from the Language Experts Program through in-country knowledge, product expertise, streamlined workflows and approval processes.

As with the existing content, transadaptation will be essential to successful localization.