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A new look at the old question of the ancient project manager: why go to a translation agency?

“It seems incredible that this huge project was completed on time. I asked you a lot and you did a great job. Not only did it get done, you managed to make me feel like it could actually be done, which made me feel calm in a sea of ​​growing pressure from my top management. I realized the convenience of using a professional service like yours. It's really true that when you entrust a great job to the best, you can let go of some of your worries."

By EfulPublished 3 months ago 13 min read
A new look at the old question of the ancient project manager: why go to a translation agency?
Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

This quote - a marketer's dream - is a real quote from a relieved and satisfied customer. You may also have enjoyed enthusiastic words of praise and thanks from a translation client in your organization. In the interest of full disclosure, I must acknowledge that the client who wrote these words is not a professional translation company.

However, her organization commissioned her to test the new product's labeling and packaging in a wide range of languages ​​for use in an even wider range of regions. The materials presented to our project management staff were a set of master documents and derivative documents, and the customer had to check and certify the language and content of the text before printing.

This client did not have the knowledge or language proficiency to organize the project or even identify the languages ​​in question. Her goal was simply to complete the task and move on to her area of ​​expertise, which explicitly did not include the definition that "Dutch" and "Netherlands" were a language and a country, respectively, and not a language pair.

If you don't want to spend your life in the salt mines

This type of client and this situation is neither uncommon nor an undesirable part of our translation business. As a project manager, and by extension, as a company, I am proud and gratified by our willingness and ability to rescue such clients from what can become a translation nightmare—the uninvited, unwanted, and often confusing person targeted by the translation. a task. Often, the uninitiated, non-volunteer, is grateful to have found a vendor who is willing and able to provide a turnkey solution.

Of course, I also work with many client translation professionals, and ultimately I work with clients at various points in between. These client managers bring years of experience and accumulated wisdom to the translation process. The “Agency Question” can and does arise: if your organization has invested resources in training and building a translation department/department, or even one knowledgeable contact person in your organization, why invest more in security? translation services?

By Medienstürmer on Unsplash

After all, having completed the valuable task of planning for globalization and preparing your product and materials with internationalization in mind, knowing your topic and knowing the market, it's basically a matter of reviewing resumes, identifying areas of expertise and level of experience. , then go to the translation step. Right?

It depends. While there are certainly instances and scenarios where these assumptions may be true, these assumptions may merit testing, and I strongly recommend that such testing include the following factors.

You already have a job, don't you?

Whether internationalization/translation is your primary profession or one of many responsibilities, your involvement in the translation process can range from assigned responsibility to being an informed participant; either way, you represent the resource in your organization. Getting the job done requires your commitment to your company, your product, and the consumer community as a whole. Under your supervision, there are many meaningful, productive and cost-effective activities. Whether you're a project manager, a department manager, or a committed advocate of global access, you're engaged in a complex process that often involves minimal input from your corporation and is the key to efficient and cost-effective globalization.

I am familiar with the specific challenges you face as a team leader or project leader in the field of internationalization. My knowledge and suggestions are based on my experience in a translation firm since 1987. My position as a translation project manager is, of course, a permanent one. There have been many trips around the block, and I have probably already encountered all the obstacles that you might have. I contend that you have more interesting things to do, and offer the following overview of some of the issues, from problems to outright boredom, that are a daily part of my work.

Critical eye and good sense of humor

Long before your project gets into the hands of a translator, I am assigned to be your second pair of eyes. At this stage of the project, my goal is to avoid misunderstandings, ambiguities, and attendant administrative and accounting nightmares by studying your materials and your project goals.

Since you probably live with your project and associated product for at least eight hours a day, you know perfectly well that it's a digital imaging system or a bone density scanner. I am not a printer, medical technician, or technical translator, but if I come across text like:

Raise lever (A) over head (B) and drain excess fluid.

and I don't have a visual or textual explanation of what it means, I'll call you to ask what it means (and get some pretty disturbing images out of my head).

Likewise, if I hear you say:

I need this Quark documentation to be translated into Japanese with PDF delivery, but I don't have photo approval and am chasing captions and will be back from the conference in time to submit final changes. then I would probably recommend that you consider EPS outlines placed in a Quark source file as a more flexible alternative.

My job is also to explore the assumptions made to the design. Let's say your source files are in App X, but some of the translators you've chosen for your project either can't use the app or can't meet your deadline if they do. But you know that they all have the same translation tool that you have, which allows you to extract marked up text and package it, along with reference materials, previously translated materials, etc., into a complete, efficient package. Unfortunately, it's only after you've spent your time preparing this project, setting milestones, and setting a print date that you discover that while translators do have the tool, they may have versions 3 or 4 that don't support the features. included with your version 6. Or they have a version that will handle tagged text, but only if it's checked out using a previous release. Translators who have the latest version have already started working, those using version 4 are waiting for you to reinstall the old version on their computer and re-extracting the text, and those using version 3 are waiting for you to provide them with files word. , and your project's reserve is already used up. You haven't even gotten to the point where your production team has to complete the project using three different methods.

In short, whatever disaster you inadvertently set your sights on, it is likely that I went through it and live to tell (you) this story and save you from the consequences.

By Tyler Franta on Unsplash

Heart of the matter

In addition to the difficulties associated with the preparation of the project, the main part of the translation process lies with the translator. Leaving aside the issue of time spent evaluating and selecting translators, the challenge lies in developing your evaluation and selection criteria. Years of experience have taught me that every project is an individual project and the weight given to any given criterion will vary from project to project. Some of these factors include:

o Accreditation or certification

o Technical or educational background

o Availability and schedule

o Ability to work in your application

o Access to compatible translation tools

o Availability (Ability to use FTP? Ability to receive overnight packages? Nine hours ahead of you?)

What should carry the most weight? It depends. A significant advantage of using a translation company is their access to and experience with a wide range of translation professionals.

What can a translation service provider offer?

They are uniquely able to determine the best translator for your project. Sometimes this may mean that the agency takes on additional work and time to ensure that the most appropriate translator is assigned to the project. For example, the best candidate may not work in your application, may be on the road and only available through an internet cafe, or may not have a degree in the subject in question but may have years of experience in the same subject.

They have influence that you don't.

Several companies have translation departments, the structure and level of activity of which are similar to bureaus. But there is a chance that you do not plan transfers on an ongoing basis; we do, and that means leverage over resources.

They know which matches were made in heaven and which were not.

Translators, of course, people. They are also professionals and rightly proud of their skills, and have their own individual philosophical approaches to their work. They may or may not work well with others, or at least some others. The best project translator and the best project reviewer may clash over word choice, style, or even personality. You'll likely only discover this when you encounter pages of complete rewrites, passionate outbursts, and conflicting opinions. We know from experience which combinations will provide an efficient and effective review process. And in the worst case, we can invite any number of additional consultants to resolve conflicts.

They have access to additional resources that you don't have.

Again, translators are people too. They may get sick, they may have family problems, or they may over-promise. How quickly can you reallocate work if one or more of your resources falls out of sight? Or if the scale suddenly changed? The agency must have the resources to start and maintain your project.

They can filter questions and manage the exchange of information.

Tina's Law of Translation says:

It can be expected that the likelihood and scope of translator questions, missing and important reference materials, and source code corrections will increase exponentially as the number of translators, reviewers, and editors working on a project increases.

Do not underestimate the time spent answering the interpreter's questions and sharing information. This is often the most time-consuming part of the translation process. In addition to performing the purely administrative task of disseminating information (which may include overnight phone calls to Russia, knowing which courier will deliver to this small town in Argentina in less than five days, and remembering when a translator traveling in Mexico will register on the Internet -cafe), your agency's editorial department will most likely be able to answer a few questions and make the judgment that will inevitably arise.

They can organize and manage your country check.

In-country verification can go smoothly. I saw it happen. However, experience shows that when you expect reviewers in a country to:

o Do not rewrite or edit the original text.

o Use change tracking.

o Do not rename electronic files.

o Do not make changes by hand.

o Coordinate peer reviews and submit only one edited document.

o Send the completed electronic file as an email attachment, you may well receive:

o Six additional paragraphs of translated text that do not match the original text.

o Rewritten document without change tracking

o A file named DOCUMENT.DOC without specifying the language/locale of the sender.

o Several smudged faxed pages with microscopically small handwritten annotations.

o Two or possibly three separate emails from different people in Spain, all of whom disagree with the changes of others

o An email in text format, written in the target language, without accents and containing general quality criticism without specific suggestions.

By Sean Pollock on Unsplash

This is the moment when you may want to become an agency partner. Exactly how much time did you devote to tasks related to country review? It probably wasn't enough. Almost no one, except for a full-time translation manager, has such time. If you had anticipated this, wouldn't you have given clearer instructions instead of assuming that your reviewers would present their comments clearly and logically? It's part of my job to warn you before it's too late. And when it's too late, I can help you unravel the knot.

They have access to tools and experience in using them.

I am not a translator, I am a project manager. So I use translation tools, but I'm not a master in any way. However, I have access to a full-time translation tool specialist who is tasked with bridging the gap between my theory and the practice of translators, who has established an ongoing relationship with the product support staff and helps ensure that the tool is being used properly and that any issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently. .

They have experienced graphic arts professionals in translation.

Multilingual desktop publishing practitioners occupy an important niche in the printing industry, and rightly so. Graphical issues related to text expansion, font support, different operating systems, and culturally acceptable graphics are beyond the experience of most art departments. Having such professionals on board and their availability during project planning and execution can make the difference between a successful project and a failed one. These professionals have the experience to ask the right questions so your end user can view and use the finished product, and they will provide post-delivery support to ensure that this is the case. They will also know that simply checking that Arabic is read from right to left does not mean that it is displayed correctly. Would your graphics department know about this?

They have editorial resources that are familiar with your topic and are trained to spot problems in text in the target language.

Your translation service provider has editorial staff trained in the stylistic rules of text in the target language and in checking such text for omissions and additions. Your English-speaking proofreaders and editors can introduce errors into the finished product by removing spaces before colons in a French translation, changing words in a Spanish subtitle to initial capital letters, or converting commas back to their original decimal points.

Steps to a successful partnership

Once you've made the decision to partner with an agency, how should you choose one? This is a separate topic for discussion, but in short, in addition to prices, deadlines and recommendations, it is worth considering the following issues.

What is included in the price per word?

Does the figure only include translation, or does it also include second qualified translator review, project management, editorial resources, and graphic resources?

Will you work with someone who understands you?

If you are a project manager, will there be a colleague in the agency? Will they be available to you on an ongoing basis? Can they provide the reporting metrics you need? What tools do they have to track projects and how quickly and efficiently can they provide updates?

What post-project support is available?

Your supplier must be willing and able to assist you in ensuring that the end user is satisfied with the linguistic quality, interface and usability.

How can you help

You can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful partnership by providing your supplier with the following:

o A clear understanding of your project's goals, including how you intend to process the work, identifying the end user, what resources they have (operating system, font support, applications, etc.), and whether you plan to - country overview

o Your anticipated timeline with milestones, an add-on for dealing with unplanned and unexpected events, and flexibility.

o Well-organized, logically named and clearly identifiable original electronic files, as well as all related hard copies, also exactly matching

o Reference materials, including visual links, English glossaries, existing translation memories or glossaries, manuals, and, if applicable, the English version of the software being localized.

o Your expectations regarding project status updates and reports, and the format in which you would prefer to receive them

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While I welcome any client who needs my guidance to avoid the doom and gloom of translation, working with a sophisticated client who has been nodding wisely throughout this article is definitely refreshing. The bottom line is that I know that both can benefit from developing a relationship with a translation agency. With my project management skills and experience, I represent some of the "added value" that agencies offer. But there are many more reasons why qualified agencies operate far beyond the realm of translation brokers. The "added value" is worth the investment for most organizations in most scenarios. Which means I will probably enjoy this industry for another 16 years.

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About the Creator


Hi there, I am Syaefullah Nur from Indonesia. I am reader and now I try to providing my best articles for you guys. Enjoy it;)

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