Jakub Lepič is Senior Localization Specialist at global cybersecurity company Avast, whose antivirus solutions help over 435 million users stay safe online and protect their digital freedom.
In this Crowdin blog, Jakub talks about the team, the technology and the solutions behind Avast’s localization operations, and his own journey from a technology-minded language graduate to a localization professional.
Localization career from QA to DTP to AVG to Avast
Both the localization and the cybersecurity industries are famously full of acronyms and abbreviations, so it’s only fitting to sum up Jakub’s localization career into a few short words spanning over a decade – from QA to DTP to AVG to Avast.
In reality, for someone with a degree in English language and literature and a technical mind, it’s, of course, much more than that. “Even in the translation courses during my studies, I always tended to go the technical way rather than the creative,” recalls Jakub. “My first job in localization was in QA at an LSP, which I got into almost by chance, but found that it really suited me. One thing naturally led to another, and I moved up to become QA Lead, then into localization DTP, and DTP Lead, and from there to Engineering Lead at the same LSP.”
Transferring from the LSP world to the enterprise side, Jakub’s first experiences with online security were with AVG which was later acquired by Avast, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity companies. “That’s how I ended up working with content that’s seen daily by millions of people, which is really quite humbling. Avast is of course a commercial organization, but our job is genuinely to keep people safe online, and it feels good to be doing something that makes a difference,” says Jakub.
“If you step back and really look at the impact our products have, and localization enables, it’s quite awesome.”
Half of Avast’s revenue comes from non-English-speaking countries. “If you step back and really look at the impact our products have, and localization enables, it’s quite awesome,” Jakub describes.
The localization team, which sees itself as a service center with added value, is an integral part of Avast’s global operations. “One of our main metrics is revenue generated by one dollar invested in localization,” says Jakub. “For each dollar invested in localization, we look at what it brings, while maintaining expected quality, which is also important. Although the big market decisions are made elsewhere, the localization team can add value through language consultation.”
A Turbocharged Localization Team
For Jakub, successful localization is about teamwork and collaboration.
“For such a large, global organization, we’re a relatively small team with a localization lead, four colleagues who are localization specialists, project managers and solution architects, and four internal translators,” explains Jakub.
Automating Localization: A Structured Process
As the one-stop shop for Avast’s localization needs, the team manages different types of content through various content management systems; web pages, emails and email campaigns, marketing, blogs, help files and knowledge base articles, and, of course, UI and in-product messaging.
With over 20 applications in the Avast and AVG ranges, many apps have multiple variants for Mac and Windows, Android and iOS.
“The ultimate goal would be to manage UI projects without ever having to go into the UI itself. With Crowdin, we’re about halfway through achieving that goal already.”
“Things would be very messy without an organized, structured process and a high degree of automation,” acknowledges Jakub. “We have done a lot, but this development work is never finished, we still have some way to go in terms of automation – doing more of it, and better. The ultimate goal would be to manage UI projects without ever having to go into the UI itself. With Crowdin, we’re about halfway through achieving that goal already.”
Avast’s localized content is seen by millions of people, and it goes through three steps – translation, revision and review – plus LQA is applied to some types of content before publication. All in all, Avast’s localization team supports up to 43 languages for different apps, and its website is translated into 30.
Vendor Collaboration All The Way
Internal translators work with the four main languages French, German, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish. For overflow work in these languages, and for all other languages, Avast’s team relies on a mix of Multi-Language Vendors (MLVs), Single Language Vendors (SLVs) and freelancers.
“We think this is arguably the best way to do it, because we have flexibility where we need it,” explains Jakub.
Consistency, style and tone are cornerstones of localization quality at Avast, together with knowledge about the company and its products.
“Our internal translators and language leads are the anchors making sure content remains consistent, keeping on top of what’s happening in their languages, and giving constant feedback.”
“We work with the same people as much as possible and put a lot of effort into maintaining good relationships with our localization partners. MLVs give maximum flexibility and scalability, but are more costly, and there is also a risk of involving translators who haven’t worked on our content before, and that’s why we also work with individual freelancers and dedicated SLVs, as well as with internal reviewers.”
“We turn the UI around as fast as possible, and Crowdin is really good at things where others are not, like the commenting features and the screenshot tool.”
All of Avast’s UI goes into Crowdin, with external project management that covers budgeting and generates reports on financial data plugged in via API integration. “We turn the UI around as fast as possible, and Crowdin is really good at things where others are not, like the commenting features and the screenshot tool. These are flawlessly implemented, seamlessly integrated and so easy to use,” says Jakub.
With a large organization, managing questions and queries from translators is no mean feat. At Avast, the queries are managed through an API-enabled dashboard, which tracks questions and answers between a host of linguists and internal experts in different teams, from Crowdin to the experts and back again.
Jakub is also a big fan of Crowdin support, “Over the years Crowdin support team has been highly cooperative a support service this great is something I don’t see very often. Whenever you write a message to Crowdin support on Slack, somebody quickly answers with a comment or advice that is indeed helpful for us.”
Development Never Stops – And It Shouldn’t Either
Jakub’s one goal in developing localization operations at Avast is to simply make things better. There is always something to figure out, and something to improve on, whether it’s automation or something else entirely.
“It’s not necessarily always about how you can automate one little thing; it’s about stepping back and seeing whether it could be done completely differently.”
“Anytime you stop and realize that you’re doing something for the fifth time, you can be sure there’s a way to automate. If you can’t do it yourself, you need to go and find someone who can. Or maybe you just need to step back and look at the issue from a distance and find a way to change your approach completely. It’s not necessarily always about how you can automate one little thing; it’s about stepping back and seeing whether it could be done completely differently.”
Machine translation, of course, also features heavily on Avast’s development plans.
“That’s the one question I always have at the back of my mind – to what degree does MT limit creativity?”
“We need to find our way with MT,” says Jakub. “We’ve been looking into machine translation for a while now but haven’t implemented it yet. Really big volumes for us are in, for example, blogs, which are not exactly informal but on the verge of it. They are also very creative, which means that, from an AI perspective, it’s like translating prose. That’s the one question I always have at the back of my mind – to what degree does MT limit creativity?”
“I’m sure MT would work well on some of our content and make translation faster in some cases, but we have to find the balance where it helps more than hinders, especially when it comes to creativity and quality. For us, perhaps that balance can be found in either translating faster while maintaining the same quality, or for things like help texts, translating faster and only sacrificing a small percentage of quality.”
In all development work, Jakub’s focus is on finding a path to innovation and figuring out what can be improved. “There should always be someone in the team who can see ahead, and push things forward, and also build the solutions for technology use and automation,” he says.
“We’re fortunate to have such people in our team, coming up with ideas, and doing them.”