Engagement: Localization of documentation for the i5/OS V6R1 (iSeries) operating system

Volume: ca. 2.5 million words (1 million words to translate + 1.5 million words already translated)

Timeframe: 3 months


The project’s goal was to localize the next version of the i5/OS operating system. Due to its sheer volume, IBM split the project between two agencies. BTInfo was responsible for the “Information Center”, a combination of an interactive help system and a documentation library. The volume stated above covers only the part assigned to BTInfo.

At first, the project volume had been estimated at 700,000 words, but after further analysis it had been established that more than 1 million words should be localized. Additionally, we had to make many changes to the 1.5 million words that had been translated earlier. Despite these challenges, the translation was delivered on time.

The challenge

Good management practices were crucial for this engagement, because our company received the relevant content in many different parts. Almost every day we were entrusted with a new installment of assigned work, and only then could we analyze the true volume that was to be translated. Often the difference between the expected and real volume of text reached as much as several hundred percent! Moreover, we were obliged to deliver subsequent installments one after another — it was impossible to make the required global standardizations at the end of the engagement.

It was like tracking a moving target… Considering that another translation agency was working concurrently on the software localization, we had to make systematic terminology arrangements in order to apply common standards to the software, help system, and documentation. Intensive communication was required, including exchanging translation memories and dictionaries virtually every day.

“This project was a great challenge both for me and my colleagues in terms of its size, deadline, and work assignment. We had to develop suitable methods to organize and manage our tasks and communicate with all relevant stakeholders. The communication was crucial — we needed to exchange dictionaries and memories that were continuously updated, as well as make terminology agreements.”

Hanna Włodarska-Marczenko


In such projects IBM makes a communication system available to its contractors that enables them to communicate with the development team responsible for a given product (TCT). Translators can submit and receive answers to their questions, as well as report errors found in the source files. The system has proven very helpful on more than one occasion.

“When planning the translation project for the i5/OS V6R1 Information Center, I was aware that the team that was developing its documentation had not been particularly good at estimating its volume previously, and that the earlier translation needed to be updated. Concurrently we had an ongoing localization project to fulfil, i.e. translating the system software itself into Polish. Many interface translations were subjected to some important changes, including significant terminology changes. Knowing their previous experience and reliability shown in documentation projects, I decided to entrust BTInfo with this engagement. Even though I had no opportunity to negotiate the final deadline, their team was able to meet my expectations. The Polish Information Center was published on time and its quality was better than that of the previous version. Moreover, the translation was consistent with the operating system’s translation. BTInfo also sent me a well thought-out action plan developed in order to improve the translation process for any subsequent releases of the Information Center.”

Marta Bartnicka

NLS Advisory Project Leader, IBM Translation Services Center Poland


Despite a significantly larger project volume and challenging deadline, we managed to deliver the project on time and ensure the translation was of a high quality.


In the translation process, the following conditions have to be taken into account in order to ensure the high quality of project deliverables:

Any existing glossaries have to be expanded and revalidated.

Translation memories should be updated with the latest changes in the first phase of the project.

During translation, the team has to build a dictionary of terminology suggestions and update it when needed.

The team should constantly verify the consistency of folder translations.

A current, consistent, and accurate interface memory should be made available, and the team should be informed about any changes that have been introduced in the interface.

The translation should be performed by qualified translators with good subject matter knowledge, who are able to use the required tools in a proficient way.

Due to demanding schedules and large text volumes, good organization of the project is of crucial importance. The project schedule should be developed and updated as needed; it should provide the team with some flexibility, taking into account possible emergency situations and unforeseen volume/deadline changes.