Best Practices for Translation Management

Helpful tips on how to best prepare for a translation project

To save time and money, clients should implement and carry out following steps as part of their overall project planning to be better prepared for a smooth translation management.

Any given project in a company needs preparation, that’s a given. Unlike with content creation, client consultation and many other parts of the process seem to be taking up most of our client’s time, leading to translation management often being forgotten in the process of planning. And this is the part – usually the very last step before the release of the content or the launch of a product – where language service providers (LSP) come into play. “Project X (which usually takes five weeks for translation) needs to be translated within one week”, “We took screenshots of our webpage and need the content to be translated asap” or “Could you please let us know the costs of this project from the past half year by this afternoon?” – When working for a language service provider, this kind of requests are part of your  job on a regular basis.

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Communication and planning are the key for a successful translation management

Whether it is a long-term project or a last-minute one, there are certain items on a client’s checklist that need to be automatically ticked off for a smooth management of translation projects:

Contact person – It is important to determine one person of contact who is in charge of the project and who knows which stage of the translation project you are at, which queries still need to be answered or which budget restrictions you have. Copying your company’s stakeholders in on the mailing history from day one might be another alternative to keep everyone of importance in the picture, in case a third person needs to monitor the costs or if you are out of office for a few days.

Timing – When planning a project, bear in mind that the translation process usually takes some time, too. Translators might not always be available right away, as they are working on other projects and certain languages are more requested than others. First, discuss the timing with your client, determine certain deadlines and make sure they understand that translation and proofreading take time. If you have a short turnaround time for your project, you should notify the language service provider a couple of weeks beforehand: this allows them to plan the project in advance, discuss timings with the translators and block them for the given period.
With a very tight schedule, splitting the work between two or several vendors might be an option for you. If your translation or proofreading project arises last-minute, notify the LSP as soon as you hear about the project and send them a first draft of the text for an overview. Also, be specific with timings. Some clients say they “need the text back asap”, for some this means within the next hour, whereas others mean two days later. If, after notifying the LSP in advance, the deadlines change, keep the LSP updated. If they know they are going to receive the text one day later, they can reschedule their resources and come up with a back-up plan if necessary.

Content – Whereas it is unproblematic to send draft files for cost evaluations and notifications, it is crucial to send final files for the actual order. If you know that content might not be final, do not send it yet. Redoing certain parts of computer keyboard reading translate the text over and over again slows the entire translation process down and it is more costly than working with the final version of the text. If you are not sure whether or not all the content is going to be signed-off by your client, discuss your concerns with the LSP and agree to send batches. It is also important to send the right format for the requested service. For translation where the content has to be replaced by another language, send open files to the LSP. This allows them to work directly within the files rather than to try working with OCR in screenshots of videos or webpages, for example.

Budget – If you need to know costs for a project beforehand, it is always best to send draft files. Use last year’s annual report or text from a similar project if you do not have any text yet. It is always easier to estimate the complexity of a project with actual text in the prospective layout than with vague details. A 12-page file could be twelve full pages of text or twelve powerpoint slides with only a third of text overall. Of course, the former would take more time to work on. If the budget is vital to your translation project, keep track of the costs. You could ask the LSP to send costs for each batch they confirm or let you know how much of the targeted budget has already been used. It is always easier to send the costs for a project while they are working on the different steps than weeks or months into the project.

As you have probably noticed, communication is key – send as much information as possible, let the LSP know about changes, read the emails carefully and answer to all of the queries. Like this, there is no need to follow-up and time is saved on both sides. Of course, all of the aspects mentioned above cannot always be covered as LSP work in a fast-paced environment and the demands might change. However, meeting some of these expectations certainly simplifies the entire translation process and allows a smoother run of the project.

You can read more if you want to find out more about how to build a healthy relationship with your language vendor.

Written by Melanie Wuchenaeur, TCLoc Master’s 

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