Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Benefits of a Coordinated Review Process

After making several follow-up calls to existing clients, a common theme emerged. Clients were sending translations to internal review without alerting us. This was concerning because the translation process needs to be a collaboration on all levels to ensure quality and accuracy.
As with most things in life, you learn from client feedback and find better ways of doing things. Since we see a lack of client communication, we have decided a simple statement on our quotation is not enough. We will add an additional step to the project scope and ask if client internal review will be part of the process. Better communication and sending reviewer instructions on our part with first time clients will help facilitate the process.
Over the years we’ve developed best practices which we share with clients to achieve optimal results with internal review. I'd like to share some of these best practices to implement when sending translated materials to internal review:
  • Clients need to let the translation vendor know when a review is taking place
  • The reviewer must be qualified i.e. native speaker, knowledge of industry or text type
  • Establish a glossary with technical terminology
  • Send the same instructions and source text to translators and reviewers
  • Client needs to send reviewer feedback back to the translation vendor to be shared with the lead translator
  • Translation memory must be updated with preferred terminology so the translation vendor and reviewer are not wasting time moving forward
  • Determine who has the final say: client reviewer? lead translator?
Below is more detailed information on each topic mentioned above should you need more information:
Let Your Translation Vendor Know There will be a Review
When a client decides to have translated material reviewed, he/she needs to let the translation vendor know so the process can be properly coordinated from start to finish. That way the translation vendor can plan the entire process, including preliminary and final deliverables. This even begins with determining turnaround time at project onset. Typically, one to two weeks is given to reviewers for them to fit review into their daily duties, depending on the size of the project. The translation vendor also needs to know if the file should go directly to desktop publishing or to review first, we highly recommend it is reviewed first to save costs on duplicate formatting costs.
A Qualified Reviewer
It is essential that the reviewer must be qualified i.e. native speaker, knowledge of industry or text type AND be fluent in English. Aunt Lydia who speaks some Polish should not review an instruction manual for operating a fork lift. Clients take time to identify a quality vendor to perform the initial translations and should put equal effort into identifying quality reviewers. Otherwise, even though Aunt Lydia tried her best and offered a few comments a majority of her feedback could be riddled with spelling and grammar errors. The goal of review is to enhance the initial translation and not detract from it.
Glossary Development
The best way to resolve the issue of technical terminological inconsistency is to translate a glossary of terms before starting translation during all project phases. Upon completion, the glossary must be sent to the translator and reviewer. Over time if the reviewer wants to change a term he/she needs to alert the end customer so new terminology can be agreed upon with the translation vendor. Otherwise, inconsistencies will arise. While a translation vendor may use the same translation team, it is more common for client internal review resources to vary from project to project and each reviewer may impose his/her own preferences or style. The glossary helps to eliminate reviewer battles.
Everyone on the Same Page
As mentioned above, it is always best to send the same instructions and source text to translators and reviewers. It is crucial for everyone to be on the same page. It is not in anyone’s best interest to allow the reviewer to take liberties and change the translation when they do not agree with the English source. As translators, we must remain faithful to the English source and reviewers should too. We have seen reviewers try and eliminate warranty or legal sections, which needed to be part of the documentation.
Send Reviewer Comments back to the Translation Vendor
Another must is for the client to send marked up reviewer comments to the translation vendor. The vendor must send the feedback to the lead translator to review, learn from the changes, provide feedback to client on exactly what those changes are, implement and update the TM. An engineer could be great technically speaking, but may make a grammar or spelling error because they are not a linguist thus compromising the quality of the overall translation. There needs to be an open dialogue throughout the review process to avoid these types of errors. A client once implemented reviewer comments directly into final desktop published files. After the reviewer received the final version, he asked what happened since his changes were not completely incorporated. Unfortunately, he only marked the first instance of a terminological change and wrote “global” in his native language only. The person incorporating the changes, only put it in the first time, and by the way, with the word “global”.
Translation Memory (TM) Update
Sometimes clients let us know reviewers fine tune technical terminology to better match company and industry speak, which is expected by the client and vendor. However, this feedback must be shared with the translation vendor so the translator can learn from edits and see that the TM is updated to use them on the next project for consistency. Most if not all translation vendors use some sort of software for translation memory. It is vital that it be kept up to date for the client to see cost and turnaround efficiencies over time. If the TM is not updated, you re-invent the wheel with each translation project spending more time and money.
The Golden Word
Once client feedback is sent to the translation vendor, the lead translator reviews the material and provides his/her feedback. Then what? Who has the final say? In most cases the lead translator agrees with reviewer feedback and accepts all changes. However, there are occasions when the reviewer introduces a spelling or grammar error and the translator cannot just accept those changes and must speak up. In those instances, the project manager will let the client know what is being accepted and what is not. The client can then determine if the reviewer should or should not know. In many cases when the reviewer is contacted, they agree and the text is corrected. However, there are situations when the reviewer will stand by what he/she did and not compromise. Typically, the reviewer has the final say, but should they? This is something the end client needs to determine. After all, company image, increased sales, and many other factors can be affected.
For more information regarding the review process and Confluent Translations, please contact Nancy Cardone at or 412-539-1410.