Your content translation quality is a factor that impacts your international business growth.
Whether you succeed or not is strongly related to how good your multilingual website, your localized software, or translated product information is. And who is responsible to seeing to it that you succeed?
The translation project manager.
Over the last 15 years of working in the localization industry, we’ve had multiple clients coming to us after leaving their previous translation partner due to poor translation quality. In many cases it resulted from bad translation project management.
Because a poor translation can seriously damage your brand’s reputation, this article is here to list 3 problems stemming from working with the wrong translation company that has bad translation project management. Read about them to know what to avoid and enjoy your fast and cost-efficient business growth.
Imagine that you are about to launch your multilingual website.
You have done everything on time. You have strictly kept the deadlines set by you and your coworkers. You are already celebrating your success. And on the day that your translation company is supposed to deliver your translated website content, they inform you that unfortunately this will not happen.
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Or, imagine that you decide to introduce your product to international markets. Everything is prepared and you are just waiting for your translation. The translation company with whom you work assured you that everything would be on time. And when the deadline comes, they are late.
It would be much easier if the situations described above were handled a bit differently. These translation agencies probably could not have avoided late deliveries, but they could have informed you earlier about the situation.
In translation project management, delays can occur from time to time. But the most important things to do are:
Running late with the project does not mean that the delivery to the client has to be late.
First of all, you can speed up your content translation by connecting your system directly with translation software to make the localization process as smooth and fast as possible. Without unnecessary manual tasks and endless emails back and forth there's no risk of delaying your translation.
And, it is also important to be able to easily and efficiently control the progress of the translation project. That is possible thanks to CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools, for example, memoQ. The progress of the translation project is visible when the linguist synchronizes it.
There are also some on-line CAT tools which enable the project manager to see the progress at all times. It is possible to see exactly which segment the linguist is working on at a particular moment.
If the project manager knows in advance that the linguist is running late, they are able to take the proper action. The most probable scenario is to find another linguist or linguists, depending on the volume of the project, and divide the remaining text between the translators.
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Thanks to that, the project can be saved and delivered on time. An experienced and dedicated project manager will personally see to it that the client is not even aware of what is going on behind the scenes. They receive their translation on time, end of story.
Getting bad news early is good news. It is important to inform the client of any unexpected situation in advance.
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In every case, whenever a project manager can see that there might be a delay in the translation delivery, driven by experience and the need to keep their clients up to date, they should inform them of a potential difficulty with delivering the translated content on time.
Simply to allow the client to prepare and adjust their plan for the product, website, or information roll out. Wouldn’t you like to know for sure that you will be ready to launch your multilingual website as you planned and if not, not be kept in the dark about it?
Every translation project manager worth their salt will make sure that their clients are kept in the loop at all times.
Imagine that there were no delays in launching your multilingual website. Everything seems perfect. The translation agency delivered their work on time and your website is working well. But suddenly your potential Norwegian client notices a huge mistranslation on your website and does not want to do business with you because of it.
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Or, you are working on a manual, let’s say a furniture assembly instruction manual. You need this manual translated into several languages.
Your localization company delivered the translation and the manual is ready. Someone has bought a bed you offer, and while trying to assemble this bed using your instruction manual, they realize that it is not possible.
There were three types of screws in the package but in the manual the same word was used to describe each of them. Do you know why and how this could happen? Probably because the linguist translated all three words using the same term.
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Nobody would want to experience problems like that, of course. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent this from happening and to improve the quality of your translation project.
Linguists have many tools that enable them to check the quality of the translation.
It’s not just about spelling, but also consistency and checking for untranslated fragments. CATs also have the ability to check if numbers are the same in the original text and in the translated text, or if there are any unpaired quotation marks or brackets in the translation.
These issues can be found and reported automatically by a translation tool, saving the linguists (and you) a lot of time.
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Let’s look at how it works in practice. Every CAT tool divides the text for translation into smaller units, called segments. Sometimes it is just a sentence or part of a sentence. Translation tools that control the quality of the translation compare the segment in the original language with the translated segment.
Thanks to these tools, your dedicated project manager is able to immediately see which segments were left untranslated, if the linguist missed them, for example. They are able to spot the segments that were translated inconsistently. Whenever there are repeated segments in the content, they should always be translated in the same way.
A project manager checking the translated content will be able to make sure that there are no differences in the translation of repeated segment throughout the content.
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With the use of translation software, the project manager is able to smoothly and quickly spot any potential errors and consistency gaps, report them back to the translator, and make sure the corrections are carried out quickly and efficiently without delaying your delivery.
It is unquestionable that the use of these kinds of tools by PMs increases the quality of the translated content.
In the language industry, a glossary is a list of terms with their translation into a particular language or multiple languages. For consistency purposes, using the same translation of a particular term throughout the text is crucial.
Whenever you send content for translation, your project manager adds the glossary to every project for the linguists' use. Sometimes there is a DNT list which is simply a do-not-translate list. It is a list of terms which need to remain as stated (for example, trademarks).
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Every translation project needs to have rules. That is why the style guide is used. Every linguist needs to adhere to the style guide during translation process.
Glossaries, style guides, and a list of content that should not be translated help the translation team deliver a truly consistent multilingual content to you.
It is clear that technical documentation needs to be translated by linguists with technical skills and marketing translation needs to be done by a marketing translator. The linguist needs to suit the translation project perfectly. This is the job of a project management team and vendor management team. They take care of it.
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Another thing is to use the same linguists for the same kind of projects from the same client. It is highly recommended to create a team of linguists to work on the same-subject projects. Thanks to that, linguists are acquainted with the subject and become specialists.
Working with a translation agency with bad project management can make the translation process very stressful for you.
Imagine that you need to have a marketing brochure translated urgently. You are stressed out because you are out of time and your translation agency is not responding.
Or, your translation agency is late with the translation project. You are sending e-mail after e-mail, calling them, and you get no feedback or information.
Or, your internal translation reviewers found some issues in the latest translation delivered to you and would like to discuss them. Your in-country reviewers claim that the translation is bad, the translation project manager says it's not without providing any specific details as to why there could be such issues flagged. You're stuck.
Every good project manager knows that even if the news is bad, it is important to stay in touch with the client to provide reassurance and try to resolve the problems.
They also know that it is critical to address any doubts, questions and potential issues coming from the clients and their in-country reviewers. It is important to be responsive, especially when something unforeseen happens.
There’s only one way to avoid them: Do not work with a translation company that does not have experienced, skilled, and well-organized project management.
How can you make sure you aren't putting your trust in the wrong translation company?
Ask your translation project managers relevant questions.
• What tools do they use?
• How do they work on multi-language projects?
• How do they operate on projects involving different time zones?
• How experienced are they in the aspects of integration between their translation software and your platform?
Then check their answers.
• How responsive are they?
• How do they explain the processes and the way the tools work to your benefit?
• Do they transparently explain the localization costs, savings, and the turnaround time to you?
• Do they have experience in working on big translation projects involving more than one team (this will show you how they function with time management, etc.)?
Ask relevant questions and make sure you deliver as much information and collaboration from your side as possible. After all, a translation project’s success also depends on you.
Once you find your perfect translation company with a well-organized project management in place, you’re on the right track to getting ahead of your competition in fast-changing international markets.