Sonja Leppänen
Accounting Assistant @ In4mo Oy
Published on June 5, 2018 | 3 mins read

Since joining the company a few months ago, I’ve been wondering how a small company like in4mo can provide its service in so many languages: six languages today (Danish, English, Finnish, German, Norwegian and Swedish), and even more tomorrow as the company expand to new markets.

Let’s face it, you and I take for granted that the tools and services we use are in our own language without thinking too much about it.

The reality is a bit more complicated than most people think.

To start with, it’s good to note that in4mo team is made up of more than 15 nationalities. English is the common company language. Each new product and functionality starts when we capture the needs of our customers.

Those initial needs are then clarified and finetuned through a mix of customer meetings and internal conceptual work, eventually documented as requirements for the development team to implement.

As the development progresses, product owners select the initial words and sentences that will be visible to our users (we call those “strings”). At this stage, the text in the in4mo solution is in English.

The hard work of finding the proper words in each of our supported languages is the responsibility of our Care team, composed of one or two native speakers for each of the supported languages. Each of them is an in4mo expert who can select the right words to use adapted to the context.

They nurture great relationships with our customers through support activities and training, giving them access to industry-specific knowledge. You see, the difficulty is not just to translate words into a new language, but to localise a concept or an action used in a specific industry in a specific country.

For instance:
• The same concept can be expressed by different words depending on the trade.
• Some concepts can’t easily be translated into every language, forcing in4mo to revise the string translations accordingly.
• Sometimes the equivalent of a short English word can only be a long sentence in another language.
• One word in one language may be translated into four or five different words in another language, so the context is essential to select the most appropriate word.
• One string can be used in multiple places in our solution, so the words selected have to work in all those different contexts.

In the end, localising in4mo solution is an iterative process to eventually obtain the best set of strings in each language.

Having all localisation resources under one roof allows us to be agile, enable continuous learning and give far better results than any external translators could. This may look overly complicated and time-consuming, but we believe it is the right thing to do! We owe it to our customers to provide the best solution and service in their own language. The clearer the language, the easier our customers will adopt our new features and the more value our solutions can bring them.

A big thanks to Robert, Jan-Erik, and Elisabeth for revealing some of in4mo localisation magic.