The Time for Tiering Is NOW – Developing a Tiering Blueprint

The Time for Tiering Is NOW – Developing a Tiering Blueprint

Melissa Biggs
By Melissa BiggsFebruary 15, 2023Topics: Localization

We’ve all seen global operations moving more and more into the spotlight through several years of digital transformation and corporate growth initiatives.  An avalanche of both content and new automated technologies has been vital in propelling corporate and international growth.

But, let’s pause for a minute. Is this still the direction of global businesses today? Market and customer demands are shifting.   Corporate initiatives, too, are moving away from growth at all costs. Businesses are refocusing on efficiencies in the operations pipeline, more reliable processes, and redefinition of roles and workflows. Content hasn’t decreased and new technology integrations continue to be complex.

As a localization professional, readiness to pivot and build responsive localization operations is a key to both overall localization success and your success with global customers. How are your localization operations responding to corporate changes? Are roles in your localization organization shifting to respond to new corporate initiatives?  Do your processes, workflows and technologies seem out of date or too manual-intensive?

If you haven’t yet stopped and thought through your ever-growing localization and resource challenges, now is the time to tune up operations and roles.

Many companies think about, and use, some form of tiering to manage their language sets. This tiering may be formal or informal.  Why stop with just that first step of language set tiers?  You could be providing even more efficiencies by extending the concepts of tiering to localization operations that are part of, or complement, basic language support.

Tiering is an extremely useful, and most often overlooked, methodology for on-going localization operations. When you take that next step beyond a concrete set of language tiers, you’ve already begun to fill out a blueprint for your localization operations.

As an example, your market support language tiering can inform how you can organize the levels of localization testing support that you provide for specific markets.  You’ve already built a second tier and have your first blueprint!

The first step in localization tiering, once you have a foundation of language support, is to identify and prioritize the key organizational areas your localization team supports.  Platform considerations can range across devices (computer, mobile, gaming, etc.) through operating systems.

The Time for Tiering Is NOW – Developing a Tiering Blueprint


After you have prioritized, you can turn your attention to those internal localization direct support operational areas that will benefit from a tiering blueprint. Examples of those functions are:

The Time for Tiering Is NOW – Developing a Tiering Blueprint


Using these two layers of guidance,  let’s look at a simple tiering blueprint, or decision set.

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GlobalE is a software company with a logistics product.  GlobalE has customers in both commercial and governmental institutions worldwide. Rapidly changing market conditions and requirements from their customers drive GlobalE and its localization group to update to more optimized and automated operations. GlobalE uses both TMS and MT systems with manual processes driving the work. Their basic operation looks like this:

The Time for Tiering Is NOW – Developing a Tiering Blueprint

GlobalE now uses a tiering blueprint applied to workflows (processes) and technologies to more effectively streamline operations.

First Phase Technology/Process Blueprint:

The Time for Tiering Is NOW – Developing a Tiering Blueprint


GlobalE has taken the first steps toward streamlining their operations to reflect their current business.

Using business baselines, tiering blueprints can effectively integrate tiers for areas of your localization operations such as:

  • Content management – documents, strings, media, graphics, KB, etc.
  • Localization tools/technology use
  • Localization testing
  • Customer touchpoints such as chat, training, video
  • Processes and workflows

Tiering Blueprints fill in the puzzle pieces that affect localization operations. Starting with the puzzle frame — your company’s language strategy and its tiering, the use of tiering blueprints allows you to automate and streamline localization operations.  Taken together, the tier “pieces” you select should enable a full puzzle picture and a concrete map for your localization efforts. Your total tier map, or completed puzzle, will assist you and your management in:

  • rolling out more effective localization processes,
  • managing overall messaging with your customers, and
  • controlling spend across your markets.

And, most important, your tiering operations, when communicated to stakeholders, can provide the building blocks for your internal company partners to streamline as well. A win-win for all!

For an in-depth introduction to the communication tools, best practices, and examples of an overall tiering strategy, enroll in the Ready, Set, Go Tiering Blueprints class offered through the Localization Institute.

ReadySetGo: Tiering Blueprint

ReadySetGo: Tiering Blueprint


Melissa Biggs



Melissa Biggs is a localization veteran with over 25 years of experience in management roles targeting localized products for enterprises. Her career focuses on technical content and localization leadership. Her enthusiasm for localization started at Olivetti Corporation in Italy. Melissa then led a technical publications group at Xerox for artificial intelligence products. She switched fields to focus on globalization strategy at Sun Microsystems, managing localization groups, as well as leading corporate initiatives for global products, and international technology strategies. At Oracle, she contributed to Oracle’s translation products and processes. Melissa also managed marketing localization at Informatica, a data integration company.

In addition to deep corporate localization engagements, Melissa is active in industry and non-profit groups. She has served on localization industry-wide groups, including as charter member of GILT Leaders ForumTAUS (Translation Automation User Society) and Localization World. She is on the board of the non-profit Global Lives Project, which teaches global empathy through global film and curriculums, and is a mentor for the international TechWomen program.

COURSES FROM Melissa Biggs

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ReadySetGo: Tiering Blueprint

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