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Problem Free Translation Starts with Project Management

It's easy to think that translation is just about words. After all, if you look up the definition of "translation", you'll read that it means taking something in one language and putting it into another.

However, when you're discussing the translation of documents in the business world, the process is just as important as the actual words. Here's why. When the process is designed properly, it can impact the overall quality of the final product. The process is instrumental in making sure the message is consistent when it needs to be delivered to multiple countries. In addition, the use of a well-thought out project management process leads to the development of efficiencies that save both time and money.

Before you hire anyone to translate your content, review important items/questions with your translation partner. The responses will be an indication of whether the document you're having translated -a web site, annual report, training manual, legal document, drawing, etc - will not only be accurate, but will also be completed on time and in budget.

Is anyone keeping an eye on the timeline?

If one project manager is assigned to manage the translation of your content, that means someone is accountable for meeting your release schedule. Ideally, the project manager should provide status reports so significant issues and risks can be caught and fixed before they escalate. This person should have an understanding of the entire scope of the project and ask questions regarding your future needs.

For example, if the project manager knows upfront that your manual needs to be revised quarterly; the whole file could be put into a database. Then, when future changes need to be made, only the specific updates that need to be translated would be revisited. The other option, translating the entire manual every quarter not only wastes time and money, but it could result in unnecessary errors.

Is there a quality control process in place to ensure the translations are flawless?

First, find out where the translators are located. The best products come from using translators who are native speakers of the target language, and live in the target market.

Second, make sure the translator is a subject matter expert in your specific industry.

Third, realize that all humans occasionally make errors, thus independent editors should always review the translations.

Using skilled translators and having a process of checks and balances in place to validate their work goes a long way in guaranteeing the quality of the translation.

Are translation memories used?

Technology plays an effective role in saving time and money on a project. So, ask if translation memories are used. This ensures linguistic consistency and lowers the translation costs from one release to the next.

In addition, translation memories allow the translators to focus on semantics. They are also helpful in ensuring the translation memory segments remain consistent.

Ask yourself the following to determine if you need to hire a company who emphasizes its project management process:

  1. What good is translated content if it jeopardizes time to market?
  2. If you need to translate a large document once a year into two or more different languages, how do you make sure the job is handled cost-effectively?
  3. Do you have the time, energy and expertise to manage a large multi-language translation project?