When I talk to other companies about knowledge management, I realize that Microsoft has a fairly unique problem - we really care about providing information in a language you can understand. This is a really neat problem to have though, since as a corporation, we care about a wide variety of customers and recognize that as US-centric we are, we really want to make customers realize their full potential with our software.
There are several downside to enabling such a wide variety of languages for our support content for customers. Here is an idea of some of those issues. If your organization is thinking of expanding the number of languages you support in your documentation, I hope you find these tips help frame your future discussions. This list isn't exhaustive of course - more of just a brain dump this morning. :-)
When we increased our blogging efforts from our technical support groups, we had to determine the best way to ensure that all customers would be able to view our content. Part of that discussion focused on localization. After a lot of discussion, we decided that because our customer base was tolerant of English text, and because we do have services like the Windows Live Translator, that should fill our content gap enough to satisfy customer's demands. We did talk about formally translating some blog entries, but we realized that the balance of work required wasn't worth the effort yet. I'm sure we'll occasionally revisit this as we continue to ramp up our blogging efforts in the next 12 months.
Is your company trying to figure out how to manage multiple languages? Drop a line in the comments with your concerns and we can start a discussion.
Hunter DonaldProgram Manager - Knowledge Management StrategyCommercial Technical Support