Best Practices for Managing Translation Workflows
April 14, 2014
Translation is both an art and a science, as you may know, so there can and will be differences in opinion when it comes to style and certain terminology. For that reason, I encourage you to follow the correct translation workflows in order to ensure a successful deliverable.
The following are key questions you need to answer to guarantee the highest quality in your localization projects:
1. What is the target audience and what are the main characteristics of their culture?
The target language is not all you need to know regarding the audience who will be reading or listening to your translation. It is extremely important that you define the target market in which your translation will be used. For example, the target language can be Spanish, but is the target audience in Spain, in Mexico or in Argentina? Or maybe in the three countries, why not? Even though the Spanish language will always be understood by any Spanish speaker in the world, different terms might be used in each country or region to refer to the same object; or commonly used words or expressions in one country might be offensive in another one. Furthermore, the way of addressing the reader might not be appropriate if the locale was not taken into account at the moment of the translation. Even design elements like the colors used in a formatted brochure or localized website cannot be chosen at random if you want to avoid a negative effect from the very beginning. So what should be the first step in your localization project? Very simple: target market research.
2. What is the subject matter?
If you want to ensure a high quality result, you must also do research on the subject matter of the source text. Translating poetry for example is not the same as translating a manual. And if you are translating a manual, the terminology will be very different whether it's an industrial instruction manual or an employee handbook. So inevitably, once you know what the subject matter is, you need to familiarize yourself for example with the author if you are translating poetry, with the terminology if it is a manual for devices, with the company if it is a handbook for their employees, or with the facilities, services and locations if the translation service is for a hotel. The ideal situation in cases like these would be of course to receive any reference material the client can provide such us previous translations, translation memories, glossaries, style guides, etc.; however, that material is not always available, so my advice would be to develop a glossary of key terminology from the English content you were provided for translation and ask the client to validate the translated glossary. That way you can start working on the project with the client approved terminology from scratch.
3. Who is involved in the actual translation process?
There are some aspects here that impact the success of the localization project:
- It is a MUST that the translation team members are native speakers of the target language and, ideally, that they are native speakers from the requested target market. Of course a Spanish translator from Argentina could translate a brochure for a Mexican company; however, it would only be acceptable in my opinion, if the editor/proofreader on the translation team is the native Spanish speaker from Mexico who will make sure the spirit of the target language culture is reflected in the final product as if it had been originally written in Mexican Spanish.
- Whenever the source text that needs to be localized falls into the category "Technical Translation", like a clinical trial which will be read by doctors, a regular translator with a technical dictionary doing a bit of research is not an option at all because even if every translated terms is correct, key concepts may be confused or mistaken. The fact is that if you don't understand it, you cannot translate it, so subject matter expertise is a MUST here.
- When we talk about a localization project, we understand that
not a single translator but a whole linguistic team is involved in
the translation process. The linguistic team should be made up of
at least a lead translator, a lead editor and a proofreader. This
way, you make sure the translated content by the expert translator
is then edited for typos (like spelling, grammar, etc.) and finally
proofread to make sure the final product is absolutely
Needless to say, there is always a Localization Services Team, at GPI we call it the Globalization Services Team or "GST", comprised of professional engineers, desktop publishers, web designers, etc. working in conjunction with the linguistic team in every localization project.
4. How do I know the client is fully satisfied with the final product?
The answer is the "client review and approval process". It is extremely important that you give your client the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the delivered translations. Many times clients do not provide specifications on a preferred style or do not have any reference material available and may not even have time to validate a glossary; however, they will always have someone reviewing your translations. For that reason, and as the key final step in the localization process, be sure that you instruct your clients on how to review the translations delivered so they can get back to you with feedback on any corrections needed for your implementation and final delivery of the product--which at that point, you will know is fully approved!
Further Information on Translation Project Management
The project managers at Globalization Partners International strive to adhere to the above-mentioned best practices. Managing our time better gives us more quality time with our clients. To further understand the entire Globalization and Localization process, you should download our PDFs Language Globalization Guides. You may also benefit from our blog posts:
- What Should You Expect From Your Localization Partner?
- Choosing a Translation Partner Instead of a Vendor
- 5 Tips for Managing Localization in your Organization
- 11 Project Management Challenges for Translation Projects
To discuss your next localization project, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (866) 272-5874, or by requesting a free translation quote on your translation and localization projects.
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Ahmed Mossad El-Saba - Localization Project Manager
Ahmed is a native Arabic speaker from Egypt, Cairo. He has over 12 years’ experience in the translation and localization field working as a Hebrew – Arabic translator and editor. He has also held positions for language Testing Engineer and Localization Project Manager. Ahmed has extensive experience in handling large volume translation projects for software and document localization. He has worked for a range of translation and localization groups and companies including Microsoft, Babylon, Saudisoft, as well as several governmental authorities. He holds a B.A. degree in Translation and Interpreting from Faculty of Alsun Ain Shams University and additionally is a certified Hebrew - Arabic translator with a High Translation professional diploma from the same faculty. He is a published author translating news articles and writing political analysis with contributions to an array of research centers and newspapers including AL Aharam, Beirut Political Centre, Aldiplomasy Magazine, and Lindro Italian News, to name a few. In his free time Ahmed likes swimming, shooting and reading about new ideas.