Ensuring translation quality part 1: Creating a quality plan

In last week’s post, Translation quality: Why you can’t afford any mistakes, we laid out the negative implications that poor quality translations can have on a company – including negative brand reputation and some serious added costs (just to name a few). Although the impact of poor translations can be easy to understand, you still may not know how to ensure you receive the high quality translations you expect.

To help you out, this week we’re kicking off a 10 part blog series on how to ensure translation quality, so you don’t have to cross your fingers for high quality results and be blinded by a language service provider’s poor attempt at acceptable translations.

There tends to be multiple steps involved in the typical translation process – which means multiple opportunities for flaws in the system or errors to potentially slip into your content.  To reduce the likelihood of possible translation missteps from the beginning…

Create a quality plan.

Before you even begin translating content, your vendor should be working with you to map out a plan to track and manage quality throughout the entire translation process. This plan should outline quality safeguards around each step of the translation workflow, including submission, translation, desktop publishing (when applicable) and final approval. Below are questions you should ask your vendor to help you understand if quality checkpoints are inserted throughout the entire translation process:

Submission – When and how will your source files be submitted? Can your provider ensure they will not be lost? What if there are difficulties uploading? Are your files secure and protected?

All of these are valid questions for tracking quality standards during submission. Since files can be submitted in multiple ways depending on your preference, including through emails or certain translation management systems, defining submission details ahead of time can protect you from file confusion and misplaced material. If your vendor does use a translation management system for submission, it’s also important to understand the system’s level of security, functionality and the type of support you will be provided to ensure it lives up to your expectations.

Translation – Where will your content be located during translation? How do you ensure confidentiality? What translation process is being used? Who will be a part of the review and approval process?

The location of files, whether on the linguist’s desktop or in a vendor’s translation management system, should be defined. You’ll also want to define the particular processes for your translations (translation, editing, proofing, final formatted proof, etc.) and the people involved in each of these steps. Clearly laying out each of these steps will help you better manage the overall process, which is a major contributor to your translations’ quality.

Desktop publishing (when applicable) – Will your vendor take the role of desktop publisher? If so, what type of training will you require? Will there be a proof step performed after final desktop publishing?

If your vendor is taking on the role of desktop publisher, it may be of value to have a desktop publishing quality checklist outlined for your vendor to follow and use during each project’s review – including guidelines for verifying images, spacing, fonts, characters, etc. This will implement better monitoring and maintaining of the desktop publishing to your quality standards. You may also want to include training requirements or a final review, depending on your translation standards.

Client approval – Will you take complete ownership over final approval? What quality checks will you require? How will you avoid re-work and revisions post delivery?

If you plan on taking complete ownership over the final approval of your translations, it’s key to have a consistent set of quality checks that reflect your total process plan. This ensures you’re meeting the quality standards set earlier and helps reduce the likelihood of retranslation being required.

Having a quality plan laid out for every step of the process prior to starting your translations creates better guidelines for all parties involved and helps avoid missteps and delays – adding a lot to the value of your content and the high standards of your workflows.

Not every company needs the same translation process and that’s why it’s important to understand the scope of your project, your strategy and why you are localizing. Your vendor should be able to assist you with this and help you create a customized quality plan to set your quality standards before you even start your translations.

But that’s only the beginning – stay tuned next week when we cover evaluating linguists in part two of our quality series (the next step to making certain you have the best in translation quality).

Have you planned out quality measures for your translations? We’ would love to hear from you below!

Also see the rest of the series:

Ensuring translation quality part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5part 6 and part 7.

About Sajan

Sajan is a leading provider of global language translation and localization services, helping clients around the world expand seamlessly into any global market.
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