Onboarding new clients: the stylish way

The dotted lines have been signed and the contracts exchanged – the start of any localisation project is always an exciting time for the team here at Alpha Lifestyle. That’s because it gives us a chance to put into practise our tried-and-tested onboarding process, helping us to deliver maximum value right from the outset.

All aboard

Some of our project managers argue, quite convincingly, that onboarding is the most critical stage in any business relationship. It is where the foundations for long-term success are laid, creating a structure and shared set of working values aligned to carefully defined strategic aims.

We’ve all heard the maxim that “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. There’s certainly some truth in that. But, as far as onboarding goes, our fashion and beauty team prefers a more positive take on this mantra to forward planning: success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Built-in agility

At Alpha Lifestyle, while we are proud of our agile workflow, we also firmly believe in getting things right from the start. While each project is different, this tends to follow a three-pronged approach which covers many of the essential elements.

 Firstly, a set-up meeting is held to identify the key challenges that may arise in the future. In some projects, for example, short lead times require an extremely detailed approach to scheduling and may necessitate careful contingency planning to deal with any potential delays or bottlenecks in the workflow. For other projects, a major challenge could be the diversity of target languages, which is one of the reasons we set up client-specific multi-language project teams coordinated by our experienced project managers.

 Secondly, clear and effective communication channels are essential to the success of any project. As a result, we ensure that our clients know exactly how our project management structure works and who they can turn to for specific queries. In turn, we seek to establish a network of contacts across our clients’ organisations that provides us with the full breadth of expertise and brand insight needed to meet our project goals.

Total immersion

Thirdly, one of the most important aspects of the onboarding process with our lifestyle clients is to become fully immersed in their brand. In the fashion and lifestyle industries, consumers have powerful relationships with their favourite brands and identify closely with their values and aspirations. It is critical, therefore, that any localisation process is underpinned by a deep understanding of these values and how they are expressed.

Very often, our fashion teams will make site-visits to our clients’ offices to get an authentic feel for what makes specific brands tick. It’s all about seeing how the brand values work in everyday life and gaining that critical insight to add value to the localisation process. As ambassadors for our client’s brand, we get to know their brand tone and style like the back of our own hands.

Sharing is caring

Sharing of assets is another key area in which it pays to establish clear protocols from the outset. In the fashion industry, access to product images alongside original descriptive text can be hugely valuable. These help our translators to create brand-focused target language descriptions that are finely attuned to local market terminology and cultural values.

Naturally, the confidentiality and security of all shared assets and intellectual property is paramount at all times. The onboarding process is a chance to establish secure working practices across all aspects of the project lifecycle. Signing NDAs is just one aspect of this process; our comprehensive localisation security processes ensure that all aspects of our hardware/software systems as well as our employee policies adhere to rigorous standards

Getting the right fit

 Of course, not everything can be planned in advance; our agile workflow means that we’re able to adapt to changes and unforeseen developments as and when they occur. But a sound onboarding process is a way of creating a collaborative and focused framework to achieve key project goals – right from the start and through into the longer term.

Done well, it’s just like pulling on your favourite outfit: everything just seems to fall into the right place. And that, as every fashionista knows, doesn’t happen by accident.