This Blog Series explores the why, what and how of assessing translation quality. In Part 1, we discussed the importance of assessing translation quality. In Part 2, Translation Quality Assessment: Measuring Defects, we began our deep dive into the “how” of translation quality assessment with discussion of how to measure errors or “defects.” In Part 3, Translation Quality Assessment: Error Categories and Severity, we learned how to categorize errors and measure their severity.
Now that we know more about errors in translation projects, it’s time to think proactively about planning for a quality translations.
When planning for quality translations, there are ten critical success factors that all stakeholders should consider and include in their planning.
10 Critical Success Factors
#1: Source content
The source content must be customized for the target purpose and target audience profile. If this hasn’t happened, the source content must be edited before sending out for translation. Content authors should consider that their product will be distributed across different cultures. As such, they need to use global English and avoid using any language that would create ambiguity for linguists in other cultures.
Preparing the final content and making sure to send the most up-to-date version is important to avoid any delays in the process. Provide content in its source file format to avoid the need for copy/paste or export/import. Using the same file format helps in maintaining consistency and reducing costs in the long-term, since segmentation will similar.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the translation can only be as good as the source content. When planning for quality translations, starting with quality source content is a must.
#2: Target Audience Profile
Professional linguists and project managers need to learn about the target audience. Who will read or use the translated content? For what purpose?
Language used in business differs from that used on manufacturing floors or in schools. The level of complexity, level of formality, tone, terminology, and style differs from one user profile to another.
Some languages have regional variations. Where this is true, it’s important to identify which language variant the target audience requires.
Technology goes beyond the CAT (Computer Aided Translation) tool, TM (Translation Memory) or TMS (Translation Management System). It includes content authoring technology – from standard word processing software to more sophisticated systems that incorporate predictive text or guide authors using standardized structures, terminology bases and/or branding guidelines. The process of content authoring has to be aligned and integrated with content translation to streamline the whole content authoring and distribution procedure.
Based on authoring technology and client future plans, both the client and language partner need to discuss and agree on the best technology to use for translation and Desktop Publishing (DTP).
#4: Right Resources
With the right source content in place, a good feel for the target audience, and a deep understanding of the technology to be used, the next step is to pick the right resources. For quality translations, the most important resource is the linguists. Choosing the right linguist means choosing native linguists that are experienced in the domain at issue as well as the type of content and the technology to be used.
No linguist can translate all types of content in all domains. Partnering with a solutions provider that fields a team of professional translators, editors and subject matter experts (SME) is a key in producing good quality translation.
The right resources also includes the right Client-Side Reviewers. Client representatives who will review the final translation or a field expert hired by a client who will review or sign off on the translation are Client-Side Reviewers (sometimes called “In-Country Reviewers”). This resource is so important that we have an entire blog series on it!
Linguists are most successful when given the best tools with which to work. Each domain has its own terminology and each company may want to differentiate itself from competition by using different terms or naming conventions. This this differentiation has to be translated in each target language. Terminology guides provide linguists with the tools they need to ensure they use the right terminology.
Terminology guides ensure that the right terminology is used consistently across the translation. It defines each unique term. Clients must frequently review, validate through field users, and update their terminology guides. Terminology guides can be provided to linguists much like a dictionary, or turned into a database, stored in different formats, that can be managed in translation management platforms where linguists have instant access during the translation process.
#6: Style Guides and Branding Guidelines
In addition to unique terminology, corporations develop their own branding guidelines and voice to position themselves int he market. They also develop content strategies to support their positioning. This positioning has to be transferred in other cultures during the localization process, and hence comes the need for language style guides.
Style guides are developed for each language/culture to define how localization is conducted for this specific language: regional differences, general linguistic rules, content types, fonts, tone, references, formality level, numbering, calendars, brand names, social and geopolitical considerations. Style guides should be aligned with branding guidelines, tone of voice, company global messaging, positioning, and target audience profiles. It is mainly used to ensure global brand consistency.
#7: Instructions and References
Project instructions and reference materials help linguists produce the exact product a client needs. Instructions can include information about processing, delivery, limitations, considerations, encoding, DTP, file formats, segmentation, software profiles, setting, etc. Reference materials like user manuals, software demos, screen shots, previous versions, feedback on previous projects, marketing materials, etc. put a project into context for the linguists and steers them down the right path for quality translations.
Quality expectations vary for each category of content. Setting clear expectations up front with respect to quality ensures no unexpected disappointment with the finished product. It is crucial to have a common agreement on quality definitions, grades, checks, review processes, internal review, sampling and methods of measurements in the beginning of the relationship as well as each project.
And “quality” doesn’t mean just accurate translation. Quality includes various aspects of the project: linguistic, functional and layout. It is important to develop a common understanding of the definitions of each aspect and how evaluate it.
In many occasions before and during the project, linguists and others may have questions about meanings, intended messages, concepts, abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, functions, feature, settings, layout, etc. For this reason, it’s vital to have a query management in place that allows for open communication. The query process may include a query form or sheet and may be web-based. Such a process should include how to submit queries, queries’ categories, frequency, response time, owners, etc.
#10: Communication and Collaboration
The final critical success factor is really the most important: establishing open, honest, continuous and clear communication channels. The prior nine success factors all require communication, collaboration, and agreement between the translation team and the client. Communication and collaboration brings all stakeholders together in common understanding of the project’s processes and expected outcomes.
Using these Critical Success Factors will help ensure quality translations. Using these factors, both the client and the translation team can collaborate together and reach their common goal – providing value to the end user.