This apple has just been washed. Or was it?

Driving content performance is just like washing your apples

This apple has just been washed. Or was it?The Apple Analogy (the fruit, not the company)

An apple a day keeps a doctor away. But is it always the case?

Imagine a day at the office. A colleague of yours, say, Helen, has brought in some apples from the grocery store. They are on the coffee table near the water cooler. Some are green, and some are red. All are shiny and glossy and look real yummy.

As you walk by, you reach out and grab an apple. It’s still 1 hour till lunch time, but you’re already starving. Your first instinct is to start eating it immediately. As your hand is moving to your mouth, suddenly a thought strikes you: did anyone wash the apples yet? You have no idea, and the lady who brought them is nowhere to be found. It surely looks clean, but should I really risk it?

Grudgingly, you head into the kitchen, turn on the water and rinse the apple thoroughly. Just in case.

As you’re heading back to your cubicle, you bump into Helen. She notices the apple in your hand and the water dripping from it. “My, you shouldn’t have bothered. I’ve already washed them in the morning”, she says.

Bummer. You’ve just wasted 10 minutes of your life doing work that has already been done. But then again, how could you know?

Comparing Apples to… Global Content!

Exactly the same thing regularly happens in global content supply chains due to lack of transparency. Our extended content authoring, copywriting, translation & localization teams continuously wash the same “apple” over and over again. It’s very easy for people to ignore the fact that their “apple” has already been washed multiple times before, as they have little visibility into each other’s information, processes, and added value. Here are some typical scenes of “re-washing the apple” from the daily life of internationalization & localization projects:

  • Didn’t we already check for the correct brand terminology for our latest German email promo campaign on the translation vendor side? Who cares, we’ll just have our in-country office check it again. They’ll do it manually, of course, for that extra highly-paid wasted time. Yeah, probably they are taking this time away from supporting field sales in their daily jobs – but for sure it’s not my problem, is it?
  • Did someone already review the Right-to-Left layouting for that 171-page Arabic product datasheet? I am not sure, let’s just send it to our LQA vendor and they will take care of it. Only 10 linguistic hours and we’re done. It’ll take a week, you say? National holidays? No problem. Let’s just delay our product launch in the MENA region that we’ve been preparing for the last 4 months.
  • Anybody tested the last build for Swahili mobile app for truncated UI strings? What, Linguistic Testing already covered that and found no bugs? I’m not sure I trust those outsourcers, they’re based in China after all. Let’s have Brian our senior test engineer go through all 13 571 screens once again before we push the final build to App Store. You know, just to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

Sensitivity towards Quality Attributes, or: Should We Always Wash Them Again?

So, why aren’t global content professionals, especially managers, around the world concerned with lots of money and time being wasted on their global content just like that?

That’s because of the perceived risk, which in turn is caused by lack of trust. Just as you won’t eat your apple until you’re 100% sure it’s clean (in effect, high quality), they don’t want to publish their global content until they are 100% sure it’s high quality according to some explicit (or, more frequently, implicit) requirements.

But what if you always knew up front whether your apple has been washed or not? If it has been washed completely, or from one side only? If a special washing liquid has been used, or just regular tap water? If a certified expert has been washing your apple, or a simple passer-by? That’s what real supply chain transparency should enable you (as well as anyone else) to learn effortlessly.

And here’s an even more interesting question: what if you knew that eating an unwashed apple has, say, only a 0.0001% chance to negatively affect your health?

Exactly the same concept can be applied to the connection between content quality and content performance. Let’s call it sensitivity. Here’s how it works:

  • If your readers and users are sensitive to a certain aspect of content quality, that may affect content performance to an extent, and you will see your global content business KPIs change.
  • If they are not sensitive to this aspect at all, content performance and KPIs are likely to stay the same no matter how much money you invest into improving content quality in this aspect.
  • Kano model is an excellent way to think about customer sensitivity to various attributes, features, and aspects of your products, services, and content.

Knowing all that, perhaps you might not care THAT much about re-washing that apple anymore. Right? Let us know in the comments.

Published by

Kirill Soloviev

Co-Founder & Head of Product at ContentQuo