Stakeholder Management 101 – Senem Konuklu

What is stakeholder management all about? Find out in this interview with Senem Konuklu - the Localization Manager at Sony.

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What is stakeholder management all about? Find out in this interview with Senem Konuklu – the Localization Manager at Sony.


Andrej Zito 

Senem, welcome to the podcast. It’s good to have you here finally, after so many times that we are waiting for each other.

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Andrej Zito 

You were super busy. It was at the end of the year. I will not ask you specifics about that. So the reason why you are here is because Hussein your ex team member, he suggested you? He was he was here a long, long time ago. And now he’s now he’s with Google.

Senem Konuklu 

Yes. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

So here you are. What is your memory of Hussein?

Senem Konuklu 

Well, I Well, I can say that ever since I joined Sony. He was a good colleague of mine. And I learned a lot of things from Hussein. Well, thanks to him. I love localization. He was all the time super enthusiastic, yeah, about localization. And I can say that I learned from him a lot, because that’s how I got into localization after I joined Sony. And so I had a chance to work with him. And I learned a lot from him. Well, I have on the good memories.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, that’s exactly my my question that I wanted to ask you. That how you got into localization? Because I know that your background, you haven’t started in localization right after you graduated?

Senem Konuklu 

Yes. Well, I have a bachelor’s degree in American literature. And I taught English as a part time job. And in my first professional role, as a marketing specialist, I was actually responsible for local market adaptation for sales and marketing materials. And for technical stuff, I was buying translation. And I also worked as a translator. But without being aware of localization industry, I took a little part in it. And that was a time I worked closely with sales people and with end customers. And there, I really felt strongly how important the localization is. And then I had my master’s degree in business management. And I continued working as an account manager in aviation, and lastly, a completely different industry. My background helped me well develop my account management, relationship management, and stakeholder management skills.

Senem Konuklu 

And then I got my role at Sony. It’s in house acquisition team as a senior localization project manager, that I got interested in this role, because it heavily involved the comp management, stakeholder and Relationship Management rather than pure translation skills. And yeah, it has been seven years now I’m, I’m really enjoying it. And starting day one, I’ve started learning, and I’m still learning Yes. And I never had adult day, there was always something exciting. And I was involved in challenging globalization projects, which I learned a lot. And I also worked with highly talented localization professionals like to say, and I also learned a lot from my translation partners. I attended Lockworld, I read multilingual magazines a lot. And yeah, I’m really enjoying it right now.

Andrej Zito 

Did you? Did you attend worlds this week?

Senem Konuklu 

No, no, not this year. But in my early years, I attended twice. And then well, I didn’t.

Andrej Zito 

Why not? Why did you stop?

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah. Okay. It’s a good question. Especially this year. Well, after some time, you know, I attended twice. And then I felt like there’s not much new that I can learn. So we also started sending some team mates to the block world so that they can also get some benefit.

Andrej Zito 

I was wondering if you had the same experience that my friend hand for the head friend head. So he was he was a vendor manager at Autodesk. So also on the buyer, client side. And he told me that his experience is just like, you’re basically like, a hot girl in a bar like everybody comes hitting going to you with their business cards, and hey, can we do business with you? I want to introduce myself and so did you feel like that?

Senem Konuklu 

Yes, I felt like everyone wants to talk to you. Everyone wants to share something they invites to lunch, etc. Yeah, it can be like that.

Andrej Zito 

Good. So So okay, before we start. So, FYI, the topic of our the theme of our conversation will be stakeholder management. But I like this discussion so far. And this is technically related to maybe account management and stakeholder management, what would be your advice to people who go to these conferences to hand out their business cards? Like what would be a better approach?

Senem Konuklu 

I’m not sure because that’s why you’re in Locworld. That’s why you have a place in law, awkward to engage with the customers, and to talk about yourself to talk about the services. So I’m not sure if there’s a better way. But if there are, you know, more case studies that they present in sessions, other than repeating themselves about their transition management system, about translation memory, so we know these by heart anyway, somehow they need to be create a showcase their value added services. I don’t know how it can be done.

Andrej Zito 

But there can be a better way. But I was thinking because you said that your purpose for you coming to Locworld wasn’t to to to stand there and take all the business cards, but you want it to learn something, right. So yeah, I think like the path to your heart would be through someone being able to teach you something new, right? Or show you something new, like surprise me, right? That’s correct. Right. Okay.

Senem Konuklu 

Surprise me teach me something,  is something real? Yeah, a case study and examples from the companies how they solved the localization problem. So this kind of sessions, so I still remember the tell-us-session, how they approach quality. They even defined what quality is, what was the definition in the old times. So what does quality even mean? Right. And then they discuss further, I even applied some of what I learned from there to the business, to what I do when I come back. So I still remember that session, for example.

Andrej Zito 

This is a great thing that you just mentioned this, like, what actually is the quality? Because that was my very first question. regarding our topic, when we talk about stakeholder management, a lot of the people, like even if you’re starting out just as a project manager, you hear a lot about stakeholders. But what actually our stakeholders, stakeholders, like Who do you consider your stakeholders? Because there’s so many people that are could be considered, you’re still stakeholders? But is everybody important? In the same way?

Senem Konuklu 

That’s a good question. But there’s too many questions.

Andrej Zito 

No, I know, I know. That’s, that’s my problem. So let’s, let’s think about Like, who do you consider stakeholders?

Senem Konuklu 

Well, I consider everyone involved. Everything involved in a project or in a program, I consider a stakeholder, I even consider my manager as a stakeholder. Because that can be many different editions of stakeholder management, what what is, what it is, for me is effective communication. What I mean is that getting to know the people, the teams involved in a project, getting to know the roles, they your expectations, they impact. And according to accordingly, you’ve set the tone for communication. And it can even the follow up will decide when to communicate, what to communicate how to communicate. For example, the level of detail I share with a senior stakeholder is limited, high level, whereas in technical teams, I get into detail and share the whole story.

Senem Konuklu 

Yes, somehow, while creating this communication channel, and giving regular update, I think it’s at the heart of stakeholder management. And I gave an example that my manager should also be updated about everything about the issues about the mistakes that I did. So my plan to mitigate those mistakes, mistakes, etc. So even she can be considered a stakeholder to me.

Andrej Zito 

Do you see yourself as a center of all these different communications and you’re just, let’s say passing the right message, the right channel so that everybody’s updated?

Senem Konuklu 

And yes, yes. Sometimes I have the role of a communication bridge between business And the technical teams. So I need to translate business expectations. And I also in return, I need to translate the technical perspective or the technical details to the business. So I can consider myself at the heart of communication. So then the localization is the question.

Andrej Zito 

Yes, yes. That’s a good way to say the heart of heart of the communication. Yeah. Love it. So does it mean that if you are at the center and the bridge between business and technical, and we know if your background is in business and account management, but does it mean that you also need to have a certain level of knowledge of the technical side, so that you understand that people who are more technical oriented?

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah yes, of course, like I mentioned, so ever since I started, I found myself in big globalization projects, where I was responsible for the localization stream, and there Well, I needed to learn to not well, deep technical terms, but I need to learn that yes, CMS can be integrated into TMS. So in order to do that, what are the steps? Who should be involved? So this level of technical detail, I think, is is expected from localization program manager or localization project manager, at least you should be able to know who to go for when you plan a project or when you have issues. So you need to have a level of technical detail. Yes.

Andrej Zito 

So if you decide for yourself to go into this, this phase where you want to know a little bit more about technical, okay, what I’m trying to point out is that a lot of the, let’s say, account managers, they don’t want to get their hands dirty with technicalities. And they, they, let’s say they say that they trust their team. So So what is like the balance between knowing a little bit more about the technicalities, so that you can have maybe better conversations with the team, and they see you more like an equal partner, versus being a manager who maybe doesn’t know that many details, but they trust their team. So whatever the team comes up, they take it like for granted without challenging the team, because they don’t have the knowledge to challenge them, right?

Senem Konuklu 

Yes, yes, you’re right. Well, it depends on your role in the program and in the project. So when I was a localization project managers, so I needed to learn the technical stuff. And so in order to direct my stakeholders, also in order to direct so my team, and my translation partners, so I needed to have hands on experience. And since I started as a localization project manager, so I learned how things are done. And now, well, together with my team, I’m responsible for more business units and more operations. Yes, I know the technical side, some level of technical side of what my team is doing. But of course, I trust them. But still, I have hands on experience. Still, when they have a question I can answer. Or, of course, they are some operations that I asked questions to my team, because I don’t know. So yes, it’s some sort of level I have the detail the assignments and experience.

Andrej Zito 

Do you think it gives you an advantage? Do you think like, let’s say, let’s say somebody starting, who doesn’t know anything about localization, but they’re really good at business? And they started working and get, let’s say, Google, or whatever, right, your company? Would you tell them that, yes. Go learn at least a little bit about the technicalities, or do you think they can perform them job? Well, by just taking the input from the technical team?

Senem Konuklu 

It’s a good question. Good question. Well, I would definitely advise them to learn some level of technical detail. So in our job, I think they should, because I don’t know maybe it’s special to localization. So you’re managing a team, but at the same time, you need to get things done. So you need to know this kind of things, and you need to direct your team accordingly. So when they haven’t issue and they don’t know how to resolve it. If you know the background, if you know, the root cause if you had a similar issue in the past, I think this experience tells you a lot in problem solving, problem solving.

Andrej Zito 

I agree. Yeah. And I’ll stop focusing on because I was just curious about this. You know, one thing, one thing when we’re talking about the stakeholders, what I always considered stakeholders, and this is kind of like an extended version of stakeholders is the end users. Do you consider them to be stakeholders or not that?

Senem Konuklu 

Not that much now. Because now they don’t they do have an impact on what I do, but not directly? That’s why not necessarily I call them my stakeholder.

Andrej Zito 

Is it more like like somebody from your let’s say, closer stakeholders basically represents the end users, let’s say the customer support?

Andrej Zito 

Yes they do

Andrej Zito 

A similar question, and this is the one that we got from our dear  Hussein, soh how do you differentiate between partners? and stakeholders?

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, that’s a good question. Well, of course, I still treats my partners as a stakeholder, because still, there should be a communication breach that I should create, because they so they are part of I can, how can I say they have also a place in the process that we are managing, so they are responsible for some steps, so in the process in the program, so they should be aware of why we are doing. So they should be involved in the planning ahead of time. So they should get regular updates. And they should also know what project success means. So that they also work towards the same goal. And at the end, again, they should be involved in lessons learned. And everything. So well, I can consider them a stakeholder as well. Maybe, of course, we are limited, maybe a limited information is given to them.

Senem Konuklu 

But it’s because more will be a detail for them. And maybe more, there’ll be too much information, too much irrelevant information. But I can call them stakeholders, or partner even closer than a stakeholder. I think partner, the word itself is more friendly, than a stakeholder.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, stakeholder is like someone in the studio that has has a bad look angry Look, he’s very mean and just want to see the numbers and partners are like your buddies that you do get shit done together.

Senem Konuklu 

I agree. And so if I move on the question, the answer how I differentiate the stakeholders internally. So how do I differentiate my stakeholders internally, I can say that, yes, there is a ranking, that I don’t treat them the same. Because most of my stakeholders acknowledge me as a trusted adviser in this field. That’s why they don’t necessarily have a deep understanding of localization. And so these are the people who I can consider the most strategic stakeholders. And for example, when I talk about localization, translation processes, or any localization impact, I avoid speaking as if I’m giving a speech at Lock world, I try to be as simple as possible anyway. And like I mentioned, there are occasions where I act as a communication bridge between business and technical teams.

Senem Konuklu 

And I think the more understandable you are, the more trust that you will become in the eyes of people. So if I sense that my stakeholders, have a has a limited knowledge about localization, I tried to be as simple as possible, and I tried to be as understandable as possible. So that’s how I rank the ones, other stakeholders who has a deep understanding of localization or the ones who doesn’t have much knowledge about localization.

Andrej Zito 

So my question actually would be how do you differentiate between Communicating and reporting ? Cause reporting, if you send someone report, it’s technically communicating something, but it’s not just them in a meeting setting.

Senem Konuklu 

Yes, you’re right. But when, when we mentioned reporting, what comes to my mind is. So let’s say you’re doing, you know, good job for your stakeholders, you know, you understood the expectations, and you manage everything accordingly, you plan accordingly, you hear regular updates. But in the end, in order to show that you achieved expectations, and you achieve your targets, you need to show it, you need to make it visible. So in order to make it visible, you either do it in a reporting, or you either, you know, presented, or you either create a case study and let them assign it. Yeah, these are the things that comes into my mind. But, well, of course, if you’re working on a more solid things like, if you promise, the capitals, and tm will save money.

Senem Konuklu 

So in the long run, if you make such a promise, and if you set your process accordingly, then you should be able to prove it with numbers. And that’s what you can do for your stakeholder. Or if you’re putting an extra effort for locals, a translation, budget management. And if you’re helping your stakeholder achieve the forecast accuracy, by raising the risks in time. And that again, can be a good way of reporting your success. Other than creating a communication channel.

Andrej Zito 

My question would be, in which cases, would you rather send a report, let’s say just my email to your stakeholders? And when you would organize a presentation and explain the numbers through your words? Is it is it based on how the stakeholders are familiar with what you’re already doing? If they are expecting just to report? Or would you let’s say you have a new stakeholder first communicate more and maybe then eventually switch to just sending reports?

Senem Konuklu 

Yes. Yeah, that’s a good question. So I can think of examples for boats. Yeah, when, when you are at the beginning of a program or a project, so you agree on some points that you need to do, for example, a regular cost translation costs reporting. So of course, when you without even creating that report, you need to agree on the format of the report. So setting up a meeting and going through the report, to understand if it meets your expectations or your requirements, or they need more information, etc. If there are any irrelevant information, you can misto setting the expectations and working towards that targets. So at the beginning of everything you need to definitely meet and agree on the output. And then maybe, then you send it for the first time again, a meeting, right? can be a good point. But if it becomes regular, then just sending an email will be enough.

Andrej Zito 

Right? Yeah. So if I can ask you in the way that you liked it before. So if you were to give an advice for all the project managers or old account managers, should the goal be to try to get your stakeholders to just accept the report? Like your end goal, because it’s more efficient, right? My only problem with a lot of presentations is that people just talk about the things that you can just read from a report. So should that be like our end goal? When we think about stakeholder management in order to do the stakeholder management efficiently? Should we try to get our stakeholders in a position where we can just send them a report with nice numbers, everything’s green, and they’re like happy with that?

Senem Konuklu 

Well, it’s, again depends. So I think while creating the report, the stakeholder should talk more so that it becomes as if it’s a good idea to create a report, and so that they feel you know, happier. So let’s imagine that you agree on a report, and you’re sending on a regular basis, but I’m sure there are some things to consider, because of some changes. For example, if if it’s a transition cost report, if it says it shows a very high number, it should be communicated, it should be highlighted. Or so I think, I don’t know, maybe it was in my world. So teams change very quickly. So the report you create and sent last year should be different now.

Senem Konuklu 

So if it is not different, something is wrong, or you’re not doing your job efficiently, you’re not seeing the improvements. So even that reporting can be done in a platform not in emails. So some kind of efficiency improvement, a change should be introduced? That’s for sure. I don’t know if I answered your question correctly. Yeah, that’s.

Andrej Zito 

An in your world, spoke about your world, do fancy dinners have a place in your world? And just to just to elaborate, because this is super generic. I’m coming from a perspective of mostly vendors, who typically want to sometimes visit I mean, before COVID, they used to visit their clients to have the fancy dinners and try to try to take the relationship to a more personal level. Your your clients are mostly internal. Before COVID? Did you still try to meet them in person? You maybe even fly to different offices, if your clients were in different locations to build a more personal relationship?

Senem Konuklu 

That’s a good question. So maybe I can give a general answer. So I think in localization industry, fancy dinners are a bit critical, I’m not sure if they really work. So I think if you do a great job, and if you make it visible to the stakeholder that is a success for you. And in order to get to know your stakeholders, more face to face meetings, they mean a lot, I really support that, and how it is done in big corporations. And I think internally with your own stakeholders, coming together for Business Review meetings on a regular basis, quarterly, maybe every six months.

Senem Konuklu 

So it is a very good way of showing what you have done so far for them. So again, with your translation partners, I think it’s also important that of course, you can go on a dinner, fancy dinner after the meeting. But what you present in the meeting, if you can show your value at in a correct way, if your numbers are correct. If my stakeholders think that, yes, you’re showing a very high translation cost, because I there are a lot of product launches this year. So it makes sense. So if you can show consistent numbers in this kind of meetings, and if you can bring improvement suggestions to the table. I think that’s part of stakeholder management, doing a great job and making it visible. And he has a meeting with our stakeholders on a regular basis.

Senem Konuklu 

They can be invited to your office so that they also know your office environment, or you can go to their office assuming that the stakeholders are all around the world. Yeah, with this kind of visits and Business Review meetings, you can also establish a personal relations and you can build relationships as well. So I think it’s a good way, but fancy dinners comes at the very end.

Andrej Zito 

Yes, yes. Yes. I agree. Like the the quality of your work should be the baseline that you can build on. What I’m saying what I’m saying is maybe this is just my stupid impression, or it’s just in my head because I I thought I’d like some people try to make up for their lack of quality with this person, chit chats and talking about personal things. And I’m not sure if everybody if all the clients would be as irrational as you. So, you know, I’m trying I’m thinking like, if if in some cases, it’s actually a good strategy to really try to bring the relationship to a more personal level to let’s say, cover up for the, for the, for the lack of quality in your actual work.

Senem Konuklu 

Yes, you can be right maybe I’m too professional for this. But before I joined this industry, it worked. Well, the fancy dinners and being more personal with the clients, because the industry was different. But you can do a lot by showing your great job. Yeah, but of course, it doesn’t hurt if you also build some relations, personal relations with your stakeholders. Yeah. Yeah, of course, it’s, it will be useful.

Andrej Zito 

Yes. So would you say that people who, let’s say, I don’t know, our account managers, or project managers, and they have reached the, let’s say, the good level of quality of their work, that as a next step, they should start working on the personal relationship? Of course, always with everyone. How do you do that?

Senem Konuklu 

Well, again, if you can meet on a regular basis, it’s gives you a very good chance of getting to know that person more. But of course, if you have a chance to meet if they accept this kind of business, severe meetings, other than that, again, which you’re more strategic stakeholders, you can have one to one sessions, where you also talk about business and where you can also talk about other stuff, maybe they are personal matters. Yeah, I definitely support that.

Andrej Zito 

What if What if you have a what if you have a stakeholder who is like business business only work only and you try to talk about your kids or family, you ask him? And he’s like, I don’t want to talk about it, you just accept it as it is and just move on and only focus on the business? Where do you try to break guys?

Senem Konuklu 

Well, it depends on why they are trying to build the wall for example, there can be people who is not eager to talk maybe because of a language barrier. And if so, they may avoid meeting so that they need to speak English and they may not be confident. Then I try writing is still if they want to. I try using internal communicators or I try using emails. But still, if they want to keep the wall, I wouldn’t try any harder.

Andrej Zito 

Cover respect. Okay.

Senem Konuklu 

Yes.

Andrej Zito 

One quick question. We were talking about the quarterly business reviews ubrs. Then you said that maybe they could even be every six months? How do you determine the frequency of this business reviews?

Senem Konuklu 

Actually, if it is, if it is me who’s going to decide I would make it on a quarterly basis, it means that you have a chance to see your stakeholder frequently. And also you have a quarterly data. So you have a very good staff to present. And, but it depends on the stakeholder who decides the frequency? Yeah, they can if they it’s a bit sad to say, but they can consider that there are some stakeholders to consider localization as a step. It’s not necessarily a strategic part of the process, then they don’t want to hear more as long as you manage to get the translations on time. As long as the quality is expected is at the expected level. And so there is a set process so they may not They want to hear more. They can even say, okay, you’re good at everything. So you don’t need to meet on a regular basis. It’s, well, it’s because maybe they consider localization as a step. Or it means that you aren’t actually good, doing good there. You don’t need to prove yourself with numbers, and with presentations, etc.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, they don’t need to walk into the box. They just bought the black box. And as long as it takes it, one step that they expected to do is fine. Okay, next thing I wanted to talk about talking about communication. And we hear the expression managing expectations a lot, especially when it comes to stakeholders. How do you manage expectations? Because to me, when we think about expectations, it’s something that people have in their head. So how do you manage what people think?

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, it’s, it shouldn’t be your first of all, so I think the very first step is to understand expectation, crystal clear. So all stakeholders should agree on the project success before the project begins. So let’s assume you understood expectation, you plan the tasks, and set the goals for yourself. I think it’s important, again, to communicate with the stakeholders saying that, so according to your expectation, I plan these activities. And so I planned this tasks. And if they agree, yes, you’re on the right path you understood me, then, again, whenever you hit a milestone and achieve a target, again, it should be communicated. And you should make the accomplishment visible. So that nothing comes as a surprise in the end.

Senem Konuklu 

So if I am to give an example, so if you’re working on a localization workflow setup for a particular product, and if the one of the expectations is to keep the translation costs under control, and accordingly, let’s assume you planned adding an authorization stage maybe before the transition starts, where the stakeholder can see the cost. And you agreed, sending a regular transaction costs reports. So when you plan this, the stakeholders should know. So you wanted to keep the costs under control. So I, I put this checkers, so before the translation, so you can see the translation cost here. So you should, I think make it visible. And if you agree on regular translation costs reports, you should agree on the format.

Senem Konuklu 

They should know, it shouldn’t be something unreadable, it’s, it can mean something to you. But it should also mean something to them. Also, you should decide how frequently you should send report. Anyway, these should be communicated. So you understood the expectations, you plan accordingly. And you also showed the outputs. And when everything is done, I think you should be able to present it, make it visible, that you successfully meet the expectations. I think that’s how you can manage the expectations.

Andrej Zito 

Right? Yeah. Alright, two thoughts. If I wouldn’t dump both of them on you, when you were talking about expectations and having everything clear, it reminded me of smart, you know, smart goals. Do you think expectations should always be smart, Specific, Measurable? Or do you sometimes deal with expectations that cannot be measured?

Senem Konuklu 

Yes, maybe we can combine this question with stakeholders, management KPIs. Because it’s also it can be something abstract. It’s a good question, whether it’s my thing.

Andrej Zito 

I’m just waiting for you to charge me for these questions, because you have to do a lot of hard work here.

Senem Konuklu 

Yes. Well, I think that Yeah, there are still some expectations that you cannot maybe clearly talk about or you may miss. And so what can be done, what I have been doing, for example, To send regular surveys to the stakeholders, if they are happy with the communication style you have, if you’re able to meet the expectations, so you can I think, hear the voice of customers through these surveys. So if they give you last call, it means that you missed something.

Andrej Zito 

When you talk about customers are referring to your internal direct customers, or are we talking about the end customers?

Senem Konuklu 

I’m talking about the internal buyer customers, which happen to be stakeholders. Okay, so, yes, in a way they are, we can call them customers. Yes, it wasn’t the question. Yes. The internal customers? Yes, they can be considered stakeholder, but they are not all your stakeholders. So when I say when I talk about meeting expectations I talk about so this strategic stakeholders who can be considered internal customers? So I talk about meeting their expectations. So yeah, through regular surveys, you can it understand if you’re on the right path or not? And yes, this kind of surveys and also for the other stakeholders, even they can be considered colleagues. Getting the reviews also on a regular basis. tells you if you’re on the right path. You don’t seem to be satisfied with the answer.

Andrej Zito 

No, no, I’m thinking I’m thinking if I should follow up. No, no, I think you answered, answered Well, like I wanted to ask you a question. But then I’m thinking, would it be too specific? So maybe, okay, you touched on the point of surveys? So maybe in general, what information like what are the questions that you ask your customers? I think a lot of the with Anthony, Larry with his thing. It’s the net net promoter score, like how would you like? Would you on a scale of zero to 10? Would you recommend our services to someone? And that’s the only question. I think that a lot of the SAS businesses use this as the only question to indicate whether their customers bought their product. Is this something that applies also to organization? Or what kind of questions if you can give us an example? would you ask in this survey?

Senem Konuklu 

Well, if I give a general answer, so we of course, need to define the stakeholders, and the ones who are involved in translations who have say saying on the translation quality, so they can be considered end customers, and also sales and marketing people in big corporations. So the survey, which is sent to them is different. So it talks about our you should be different. It’s so the questions are like, are you happy with the translation quality? Can you give a score out of 10 hours? If you think something is wrong, What is wrong? Is it’s about the terminology, grammar, or issues or? Yeah, this kind of questions or are you happy with the in house localization team? So this is a type of question but this is targeting sales and marketing people only if they’re happy with the transaction quality.

Senem Konuklu 

On the other hand, the survey that you are sending to stakeholders can be just one simple question. Are you happy with the services that you get from this organization? And they can answer they can give a score out of five and they can also insert a comment. Also, you know, if you do something wrong if something goes wrong or if you fail to communicate properly in advance if you don’t see the risks in time etc. And if something fails, because of you or if something delays, you get escalation. So the number of escalations are also used. If you are good at stakeholder management or not. Maybe you did something at the background. You maybe prevented some issues, but you fail to communicate it to the state Calder’s to end it’s ended up in escalation. So something is wrong here. So that can be used also to measure your performance in stakeholder management.

Andrej Zito 

Thank you. So going back to the expectations of the stakeholders, I want to talk a little about money and ROI. Because to me, also, from a recent discussions on LinkedIn, when you’re trying to to convince your stakeholders, we don’t know much about localization. To me, it seems like the only way to do it and to convince someone to do something extra is to give them a clear ROI. Do you think it’s the case that you always need to present the numbers? That’s my question number one, let’s start with that.

Senem Konuklu 

Well, I think yes, also, Well, it depends on the scale of a translation project. So if you’re talking about websites, which is translated into fifth language, then you should have very good amount of budget. So we are talking about very high numbers here. And so when you first, for example, if you’re going to make a forecast you work on a budget. And if you just tell the stakeholder that, yes, you should budget like 5 million euros on a yearly basis? Yes, of course, it will freak them out. That’s why you need to show some details. So you gave me a scope, that’s the number of words which are going to be translated. So these are the rates for each language. And we talked about 50 language. So let’s take one language as an example and calculate it. So well, you definitely need to give the numbers and some level of detail in order not to freak out the stakeholder.

Senem Konuklu 

And it’s again, even for simple projects. And for ad hoc projects, you’re really need to work with people who doesn’t know about localization. And again, your communication should be different. So if it is the first time they are engaged with you, you need to talk about localization, you need to talk about translation memory. About the first project can be costly, but thanks to translation memory, the costs will be expected to go down so you should be able to tell them and also again, you should be as simple as possible. So there are times that I need to justify DTP cost. without mentioning DTP and its dictionary definition.

Andrej Zito 

When I’m when I’m training, project managers, like who have no experience in localization, and we talk about DDP, I just say DDP people make things pretty. Your assets to look pretty we need DDP. Yeah. But sorry, go ahead.

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, it’s a difficult definition. But it’s an additional cost. That’s most of the internal customers fails to budgeted. So why it is that it’s an unexpected costs, and you need to justify it. Again, what was your question?

Andrej Zito 

I don’t even know. But I but I have. I have a follow up question. So one of the scenarios that I’m sure that you have probably come across because to me, it seems like like, okay, VTP is an extra service. Maybe for some people, even a translation is like an extra service because they know about Google Translate. Why do we need to pay the translators? 5 million to translate the website into 50 languages? Why can we not just use machine translation? And how do you convince them about the quality that machine translation which is something they may not even know about produces versus a human?

Senem Konuklu 

If you’re talking about a big corporation, they’re reputable company. And that was, well, who is I don’t know I’m just using a poor machine translation. Software, some language, of course, it’s it really works and maybe with some additional profit etc, it’s, it proves to be good. But I’m focusing purely on your question. I don’t judge the machine translation here. But while I explained this, to the stakeholders, I actually explained the localization process, how the website is translated how the content is translated. And while if you talk specifically for that site, why do we need that translation? Because of globalization, you need to make a global product, you need to be able to sell it in the local market, you need to localize the product. And it is more than a translation. So the localization should be it explained. And if we’re talking about the big, reputable companies, so this is something you cannot just ignore, and go on with a process which you’re not sure.

Andrej Zito 

Have you ever tried to convince your stakeholders about something for which you didn’t have any numbers that convinced them? Or maybe even something that didn’t have a positive ROI? Or it couldn’t be measured in numbers? I’m just wondering if you can think of something. The top of your head, for example, okay, now, no, I just thought about it. Like, I’m not sure how much he’s transcreation. But I think transcription versus translation can be one of those things where it’s difficult to judge how much return we’re going to get on the simple translation versus somebody who gives it more love to the I don’t know the titles or the headlines. So that could be an example.

Senem Konuklu 

Yes, yes. Well, what can be done? Is that, okay, if you’re talking to a stakeholder, and if you’re talking about choosing a translation and translation, I would, again, involve the stakeholders. So you want this evaluation because of the feedback that you receive from the countries. So let’s sing them all countries. And let’s give them a pure translation, a standard translation. And let’s also give you that much faster creation, let them ever rate let them give a score to that. And you will know the cost of standard translation and transcreation. So standard translation, standard translation. So these are the rights apply to the words for translation, these are the rights apply to the word translation will take longer time. But let’s hear about your countries will say about them. And, yeah, I will involve him in decision making. And, again, I will try to create some proofs that require task creation we work.

Andrej Zito 

It’s kind of like an A B test. In some way, okay. Now that that’s, that’s about convincing the stakeholders but what if your stakeholders come to you with a request that you don’t seem like a good way or like they’re thinking too wild? How do you say no to stakeholders?

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, that’s a good one. I like this kind of situation. It’s not that I like saying no, I would definitely avoid saying no directly.

Andrej Zito 

Like, should you always try to accommodate whatever the stakeholders come up with?

Senem Konuklu 

No, definitely not. Now that I think there are always knows it should be, you shouldn’t just say yes to everything, say yes to the things that you cannot do. Well, while I like this kind of situations, because it also forces me to think out of the box and create alternatives. So if there’s no there should be alternatives. And so, maybe without direct saying no, I would emphasize with the requests. So I understand your expectation is this and so, if I understood you correctly, this may cannot be done in this way. So instead, these are the alternatives that we can do. From that self, I would structure My words, I can also give you some examples.

Senem Konuklu 

For example, if the request is to get the complete localization workflow in five days, whereas you scheduled 10 days to complete it, then you need to how can I say, less the steps and the duration, the importance, etc. And then I think the stakeholder those, empathize, and they’ll show empathy to you.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, they will understand the reason why.

Senem Konuklu 

So as long as you give every reason as long as you don’t focus on the now, and the reason for No. But also, if you focus on the alternatives.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, when you’re talking about the alternatives, I was thinking about, like, that’s the time when you would have gone to Hussein was saying, think about something.

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, he’s also a kind of person who can think out of the box, and he can create millions of crazy ideas.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, I have a few more questions, I know that it’s pretty late for you. When we’re talking about the KPIs, when we were talking about specifically when you were talking about how you communicate differently to different stakeholders, because their expectations, reports could be different. Do you have this all in some sort of plan? Do you have like a plan for all your stakeholders? Or maybe I don’t know, some system like a CRM system? Where you have these informations for different stakeholders and how to treat them? Or how do you approach this? How are you systematic about your stakeholder management?

Senem Konuklu 

Question when I don’t have a plan? Can I just get this good?

Andrej Zito 

Think it’s too much to have a system for this or it’s like natural to you that whenever you are sending a report to someone you know, exactly like it’s in your head.

Senem Konuklu 

So far, it has been natural to me. But while thinking about your questions, I know, this question I told about it, I thought about it for my team, if we can have a plan like this, so that they know, when they first start working as a project manager, that they should know your stakeholders. Maybe they can write down the engagement plan, et cetera. So how frequently they should engage with them. There is such a plan can be created. But it’s so far, it has been natural to me. I didn’t think about it. You made me think about it.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, I think that’s that’s a good idea. I think when I was working in my previous company, we’re thinking of doing something similar, but we never got to it, to me makes such a huge sense. Because let’s say the typical case where you are, I don’t know a project manager that you do the day to day project, and you have a direct customer, you get to know them a lot on a day to day basis. And then there may be people above you, let’s say your level, who represent I don’t know, let’s say localization managers, or account managers, when we talk about the vendor side, they know that person from a different perspective, and you all kind of have have some insights about the person. So if you put that in one document, yes. It’s kind of like I don’t know, like profiling people is like a better dating site. But

Senem Konuklu 

They could be Yeah, we talk about these things. We definitely talk about these things. By but yeah, it’s never written down. Okay. That’s a good point. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

Powerful. I had this question, but I think I’ll probably skip it. So let us do two final questions. That this is actually a very good segue to what we were just discussing right now. How do you let’s say Hussein was working with you or somebody new joins your team? How do you teach them to about stakeholder management? And how do tell them to get better at it?

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, it’s again, a good question. Well, yeah, there’s a newcomer in the team. I think they should know, the people who are involved in a project and who are involved in their business, and what is the impact? What is their roles, it needs to be explained to them. So they need to write it down. And their day to day basis contacts, and their high level stakeholders, that all needs to be written down. And all needs to be discussed. And it needs to be discussed on a regular basis. Yeah, again, I don’t have any structured plan to onboard. But it’s again, and again, it comes natural in knowledge sharing process in the onboarding process, you talk about the stakeholders, right. And they know who they are going to work on a daily basis. Yeah, for the most strategic once again, you together, go and engage with them.

Andrej Zito 

I think one of the things that I’m still learning to, to get used to is that what comes natural to me, doesn’t have to be natural to other people.

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, of course,

Andrej Zito 

You know, how there’s the thing that the common common common sense, common sense is the least common of senses.

Senem Konuklu 

I haven’t heard it, but it’s a good sentence. Yes. Also, it depends on your experience level. So if you’re, if you’ve started working, if you have if you’re any other graduates, and if you have just started working, yes. So what what is the common sense for an experienced person is not a common sense for any graduates. So it may not be natural for them. Yes. I get that a lot. Yeah, I think I think same

Andrej Zito 

Alright, well Senen thank you very much for the interview. He had a lovely one hour talking about stakeholder management. Thank you, and maybe I’ll talk to you soon about your personal life and who is Senen as a person?

Senem Konuklu 

Yeah, why not? Of course.

Andrej Zito 

All right. Bye bye.

Senem Konuklu 

Bye. Bye. Thank you.

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