Get the quality you need for your localization projects with a robust quality management system

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Editor’s Note: This article was written by a future expert from our partner Master’s course, TCloc Online Technical Communication. If you have any questions or wish to find out further information about the course, you’ll find a link at the end of the article to access the website. Enjoy!
Developing a robust quality management system is one of the most important aspects of any localization project. It is a well-established fact that translation quality can have a huge business impact. A quick Google search will yield countless documented horror stories of failed or embarrassing product launches due to an oversight in translation or adequate understanding of the target culture.
Higher investment into globalization strategies and technological advances has increased global market reach for many businesses. As a consequence, localized versions of products are being released more quickly than ever before. Localization teams are under more pressure than ever to complete localization projects quickly and with high standards. But how can businesses ensure that the quality of their localized content is up to scratch?

Quality Management System: Integrating Quality Assurance and Quality Control

A well-organized quality management system is crucial for any business to identify, measure, control and improve the quality of their localized content. According to ISO standards, a quality management system includes the establishment of a set of quality policies and objectives that will act as guidelines within an organization, amongst them quality assurance and quality control procedures.

Quality Assurance: Plan for Quality

Quality assurance is a process of planning, documenting and agreeing on the steps and guidelines required for ensuring quality. Quality assurance is a proactive measure and forms part of the upstream preparation of a localization project. It enables businesses to build in quality before translation takes place.

Quality Control: Verify the Translation Quality

Quality control focuses on verification measures undertaken to ensure a translation meets requirements. Quality control can be considered a reactive measure in that it typically happens at the end of the translation process.

Integrating Quality Assurance and Quality Control into your Quality Management System

Businesses should consider integrating the following quality assurance and control standards into their quality management system to improve the quality of their localization projects.
Source Content
The quality of the source content has a big impact on the quality of the translation. Ambiguity in the source text can cause costly misinterpretations during the translation process. Businesses should write with translation in mind by developing and using standardized style guides and glossaries to keep branding consistent across source and localized versions of the content.
Translator Experience
Translators need to be matched with the area of specialization, content type and quality level. The translators should be native speakers, be experienced in your business’s area of specialization, understand what resources and tools are needed to produce translations according to expected quality levels.
Tools and Workflows
Part of the quality assurance process will also be addressing which workflows and tools should be used for your localization projects. Your localization requirements, budget and project timeframe will dictate the type of workflow that should be used. For example, you might need to consider whether an additional review step needs to be integrated into the workflow after translation, or machine translation should be integrated into the translation process. Translation memories, which are databases of previously approved translations should always be used to ensure consistency of terms and business branding.
Standardized Metrics
Once you have defined your quality assurance measures, it is important to develop and apply standardized metrics to measure and track the quality of your translated content. The perception of translation quality is changing within the localization industry given that the diversification of content types has given rise to variables such as end user requirements, communication function and integration of automated translation tools into workflows. The metrics you adopt should therefore have the flexibility to track variable benchmarking and evaluate quality over time.
The University of Strasbourg has developed a Master in Technical Communication and Localization, taught by experts in the field of localization. Students of the program come from diverse professional backgrounds and upon completion can assist you with advice on standardized style guides for translation and quality management in the context of localization. Click here for student details.
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Written by Claire Mullins

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