Global expansion presents an exciting new challenge for professionals with a role in developing training and eLearning materials for an increasingly multicultural workforce. Perhaps the biggest challenge is striking the right balance between requirements and resources to ensure you can deliver high quality training, when you need it, without breaking the budget.

As with everything you do, planning is the key. But just how do you plan for globalization? The following four-step process will help you develop a globalization strategy so that you can make a great first impression with users around the world, roll out multiple programs quickly—and stay on track with your budget.

1. Choose your adaptation approach

Before you dive into creating content, take a moment to identify the types of content that will be effective for your audience, keeping in mind that simpler programs can be very effective and take less time and budget to globalize. Then, determine what level of adaptation is appropriate.

While there are various levels of translation quality—ranging from straight translation to creating unique programs for each culture—the sweet spot for training tends to be a hybrid approach. This involves starting with global-ready, culturally neutral content in modular building blocks. With a modular approach, you can easily translate core content into required languages, while you can customize individual modules based on the cultural requirements of your target audiences.

This approach results in content that is much more nuanced and culturally relevant than straight translation, and gives you the flexibility to customize delivery without creating separate training programs for every language.

2. Familiarize yourself with the local culture and requirements

When building a global program, a wide array of cultural differences can affect your project. Instructional approaches, legal requirements, character sets and orientation, and assessment and feedback strategies are just a few considerations that will affect your plans. The HR department of your in-country office or an experienced globalization partner can be a great resource to help identify these issues—and avoid missteps.

If you are working with an outside globalization partner, be sure to look for one that has an established local project team to support you, with proven expertise in carrying out complete projects from initial program development to translation.

3. Create content that is global-ready

The main characteristic of global-ready content is that it avoids cultural references so that you can translate it very quickly and directly. And this doesn’t just apply to words. Avoiding analogies may not be too difficult, but are you aware of the connotations certain symbols—and even colors—have in other cultures? This is where your in-country team or globalization partner can help you increase the quality of your global-ready content to speed translation times and avoid possible rework.

Another aspect of the globalization process that will impact your timeline and budget is how well the technology tools at your disposal can deal with linguistic and translation requirements. For example, tools should support multiple character sets and be able to adjust design elements to allow for text expansion and/or vertical alignment. They should also allow you to keep text separate from graphics to streamline translation. Other technology tools you might wish to consider include Wikis and other collaboration enablers that are critical for keeping you connected with your local team.

4. Set your local team up for success

When it’s time to hand off your global-ready content to the local team for translation, make sure that responsibilities, expectations, and assessment factors are in writing and well understood. Give your team access to instructions, style guides, glossaries, reference materials, and any technology-enabled translation tools you have prepared for the project. These can include a combination of translation memory databases, translation management systems, and automated machine translation. Carefully applying these tools in the right combination can dramatically boost efficiency and help you strike the right balance between quality and cost.

Success starts with planning ahead

When you need training materials for a global workforce, success starts with preparing global-ready content, and you can ensure it by leveraging partners and tools that can help you automate and streamline the global training development process all along the way. This ultimately results in more effective training and eLearning programs that you can produce and update quickly without straining your budget.