The name of our translation company has become a cussword in our office! - that's what I heard from a prospective client, once.
The company they had in mind is one of the biggest localization companies in the world. The problem is that they tend to lock customers in, not through their translation quality and customer service, but through multi-million-dollar technology purchases. When the customer realizes what's going on, and wants out, guess what? They can't.
When there is too much negative communication about a translation company in your office, make sure you check the reasons for that. When you hear too much negative feedback about their services, it is high time to start looking into their localization process.
The more issues with the translation process, the bumpier the road to your product launch and an impressive increase of ROI. The most common problem-makers, between the marketing teams and localization providers, are translation quality and deadlines.
It may turn out that your translation reviewer strongly disapproves of the translation quality. This article will list eight cases when a translation company's name may become a cussword in relation to translation review.
Companies very often use local dealers as in-country reviewers of translated content. Do translations ever come back from review with the comment bad quality, but with no explanation or details?
Imagine that you want to sell your product in Spain, and you send the prototype to the local dealer, asking if the product is going to sell well in Spain. What you receive as an answer is simply - No, it won't. No explanation or further details.
This is what also happens with translation quality being evaluated by people who are not translation professionals. That is why translation companies go beyond their initial role, and they often support the client review stage. Experienced translation companies provide tools that can measure and monitor translation quality.
They incorporate review into the localization process, and offer training for translation reviewers - if needed. Transparent and clear quality monitoring is something that makes professional translation companies stand out.
Related content: 3 Pillars of Successful Reviewing Your Translation Provider's Work
Whenever you hear that a marketing team, in order to save money, is asked to review a translation for free, you should question that approach. When people are tired, their own duties are waiting, and they simply need some sleep, checking a couple of translated documents for free is not the greatest idea.
What you might get is just a very general comment with no examples or explanations. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do with that kind of feedback. It is much better to pay the localization professionals for their time spent on reviewing translation.
The sole process of reviewing is not a walk in the park, and requires concentration, experience, subject-matter knowledge, and professional tools. While working with a professional freelance linguist as a reviewer, it is even more important to compensate for their time spent. This is how they make a living.
The same person may work as a freelance translator for another translation agency, and deliberately underestimate the value of reviewed translation to make you switch providers, to a company that pays the linguist for their job, in this case, translation.
It is pretty easy to detect if the feedback is delivered by a translation professional or not. Trust the quality measurement systems and ask the reviewer to apply translation scores and provide details about the suggested corrections.
Unfortunately, avoiding the use of translation software among reviewers happens a lot. Translation software, called CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools, is used in order to streamline not only the act of translation, but also the revision and the review stages.
There are desktop solutions available, web-based versions, as well as a mixture of both. Some designers also launched versions available for smartphones.
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Working without CAT tools is time-consuming and may result in introduction of errors. Working without any CAT tools, the reviewer checks the translations and inconsistently corrects here and there. This approach leads to corrections only partially effected.
The text becomes inconsistent and lots of words or phrases may remain unchanged. If the corrections are sent back to the translation team, they will eventually be fixed.
The format of the content returned for change implementation and consistency check is important. If there are many inconsistent changes, or even errors introduced in the files without CAT tools, the translation company will charge for the additional manual effort.
This is often misunderstood and a lot of times a translation provider is blamed for the number of corrections. The time needed to fix content which was degraded by an improper review phase is often dumped on the translation provider. Yes, errors do happen. But if the translation company makes an error, they fix it immediately.
The problem begins when they are required to fix errors that were not introduced during the translation process. It is highly recommended to send the reviewed content back to the localization team for finalization.
The best solution is to include the review stage into the translation process, conducted in CAT tools, and managed by a localization project manager. The localization team can train the reviewer, and manage the in-country review step.
One of the features of the CAT tools is that they turn the original file into a bilingual .xliff (XML Localization Interchange File Format) format. This most basic feature allows dividing the source language content into what is referred to as segments and creating the bilingual file.
Example of memoq translation tool interface at work
The bilingual .xliff file looks like a two-column table with the source language text on the left, and an empty space - waiting for the translated content, on the right. One of the issues with the reviewer not working on the bilingual files, is that the reviewer can only see the translated text. This is something that takes practice.
Unfortunately, the translation provider is the one to be blamed for misunderstandings resulting from this approach. The translation may be correct, according to the source text, but the reviewer may want to change the translated text. This happens very often, but should not result in a negative comment concerning the translation service provider.
The reviewer may also want to change the flow or the sequence of information, and that is fine. Such changes are referred to as client preferences. Problems arise when these changes are reported as bad translations.
There may also be situations where the reviewer is not a linguist, or a native speaker of the target language. A colleague, who speaks Spanish as a second language, may not necessarily be the best reviewer for marketing content that needs to take into consideration cultural references, as well as contemporary social trends.
Feedback received from a non-linguist may often be ineffective. It may only lead to a lot of time wasted on reverting and commenting on each and every change. What happens if you skip the feedback implementation stage on the reviewed files, on the translation agency's side?
The content, containing incorrect changes, will be published. Who is going to be blamed for errors in the published content? It is very probable that no one will remember that the Spanish-speaking colleague modified the text before publishing.
Sometimes people work outside of CAT tools. The reviewer not only has no access to the bilingual files, but is also deprived of the translations stored in the TM (Translation Memory). Everything that has been translated in a document, or a project, is immediately saved in the TM, and can be easily reused further along in the process.
For example, if the text contains two sentences with only a one-word difference, the TM will immediately prompt the translator with the already-translated content. It saves a lot of time during translation, as well as while checking for consistency.
That, along with no access to the TM, makes is so that the reviewer is often not aware of the fact that there exists an approved terminology that should be followed. Again, when the reviewer insists on changing the approved term, that is fine, if it is a preferential change.
You should remember, however, that the term needs to be updated in the glossary. Otherwise, the reviewer will have to correct the term again and again, which may lead to a lot of frustration.
This can be avoided by commenting on every modification concerning the approved terminology, and asking the localization team to update the glossary (the list of approved term translations).
While working in CAT tools, every change is stored in the TM, and the translation team can easily see what changes were introduced during the review. Working outside of CAT tools, with no TM and glossary attached, leads to repetitive changes.
It is very common that the reviewer is not provided with reference materials, context, or answers to linguists' queries asked during the translation stage. Before starting the translation process, the localization team starts by collecting reference material.
It may be visuals, photos, or original documents with graphics and tables. It is very important to have access to such documents in order to grasp as much information about the context as possible. If the reviewer is deprived of this reference material, it is very easy to misinterpret the content.
This may also happen the other way round. The reviewers have more context than the translation team. This is often the result of a last moment hand-off. Likewise, this is a consequence of underestimating the importance of having reference material during the translation stage.
In the translation process, linguists very often raise queries in order to clarify product functionalities, for example. They often ask for more context, or simply ask for confirmation for their understanding, with regard to an option, or the device's behavior. When the client answers, the whole translation team is simultaneously informed of the answer.
If the person conducting the final review is not informed about the client's answers, this may lead to misunderstandings that result in a bad translation score. Sometimes the linguists report errors in the source text. The source text is rarely updated at the translation stage, but the translated content needs to convey the correct message.
For example, in the source document it says push, and it should be pull. The translation should therefore convey the meaning of the correct word, pull. The reviewer can easily say that the translation is completely incorrect due to push being translated as pull. Being aware of the error in the source document helps the reviewer understand the reason behind the translation, and saves face for the translation provider.
Delivering projects according to the deadline is a key point of localization project managers' code of conduct. They apply risk management techniques, and perform miracles to deliver big translation projects in a short time. However, sometimes the deadline cannot be kept, and lots of times, contrary to the general opinion, this is not the translation provider's fault.
Linguists' questions play a very important role with regard to translation quality, as well as the deadline. When an important question is not answered, the translation process may be blocked.
Be sure to provide as much context as possible, or answer the questions as fast as you can. Waiting until the last minute to answer and expecting the files to be returned the same day, as initially agreed, is very often not possible.
Related content: 6 Tips on Preparing Your Content for Translation
How can one unanswered question delay a localization process and block you from meeting your time-to-market? It may be a question regarding an option, that was raised during device localization. It may also be a question regarding the tone of voice for a survey translation. Or it can also be a question about currency conversion for a web page translation.
Time and again, manuals sent for translation quote are different from the final documentation sent for translation. Most of the files will require further cost-estimates, or they require further preparation before they can be incorporated into CAT tools.
If the translation company agrees to a deadline, the agreement concerns the files sent during the quotation stage. Blaming the translation provider for changing the estimated turnaround time due to changing the files is a common occurrence.
Related content: How to Reduce Turnaround Time for Content Translation
Luckily, translation companies can work magic when it comes to deadlines. Sometimes, the initial deadlines are pushed back, due to the fact that the project got bogged down on the marketing side.
Translation is a process, and no matter what, some steps have to be taken. Therefore, time-consuming preparation of the source marketing content may lead to problems with keeping the initially agreed deadlines. No matter how many solutions the localization project manager applies, sometimes the delays resulting from a delayed green light cannot be avoided.
The localization team should become a part of your marketing team in some ways. These should be the people that you trust with your content translation-related matters, and whom you can count on. Their aim is your global success.
A small piece of advice to translation clients, in short: If your translation agency's name becomes a cussword in the office, examine the situation, talk to people on both sides, evaluate the issues, and make quick decisions. Hire slow, fire fast.
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