Technical Translator: Are the Little Details Important?

How to select your technical translator

Technical Translator LeverageLast week, I visited one of our medical devices clients when they asked the following: “We’ve been working with you for over a year and are extremely pleased with your service. How do you ensure that the quality of the translation is met with each project?” While most language vendors would say something like, “well we use native translators” and the more sophisticated add “with subject matter expertise (SME)”, my answer went much beyond that. Here are the criteria that GlobalVision assigns when selecting a technical translator. 

Qualifying a Technical Translator

At GlobalVision, we not only rigorously qualify native translators and classify them based on their subject matter expertise, we perpetually monitor their performance as long as they are working with us. How we do that is unique in the translation localization industry. Read on…

When a project manager is tasked to select a translator or a reviewer for a new project, the available resources are tabulated by our Translation Management System (TMS), in an easy to read grid, specifying all the following information:

technical translator grading

Grades technical translators based on key criteria

1. Translator’s subject matter expertise

For instance, can the translator handle medical opens in a new window, software opens in a new window, legal opens in a new window, financial opens in a new windowor engineering opens in a new windowprojects? In our TMS, we automatically classify each project by the customer’s industry, and manually, by the project’s type and style. The translation management system then flags translation subject matter experts to the project managers at the top of the translators’ selector grid.

2. Translators’ style expertise

Even when a translator has the subject and language expertise, at times, he or she doesn’t have the necessary style expertise. For instance, some technical translators can handle instructional translations very accurately, while others are better at handling creative writing. So the ability of the translator to handle Technical, Instructional, Marketing, GUI or Creative translations is of paramount importance when each specific style is needed!

3. Number of Projects with GlobalVision

How many projects has this technical translator done at GlobalVision? You don’t want to assign a rookie on critical tasks. Even though that all our translators have many years of experience in translation, our ISO 9001 process requires that newly added resources are thoroughly vetted till proven capable. It therefore requires us to keep track of the number of tasks they have completed for us. At times we find that although our newly added translators have significant experience in translation, using new tools or processes have a chance to create a problem, till they are more familiar with them.

4. Number of Projects with the Client

How many projects has he or she performed for this client in previous tasks? One, we don’t want to go against the learning curve with each project for a specific client. Two, offering continuity in the style in all your projects is very important to your end-users, and therefore to us!

5. Technical Translator Rating

How was this translator rated by project managers and clients in the past? This is very important information to share with all project managers to eliminate problems from recurring. Many clients who perform their in-country proofs may have certain stylistic requirements that are matched to specific translators. Project managers need to ensure that they follow these requirements.

6. Technical Translator Reviews

Are there any comments or notes from project managers about this translator? Some translator-reviewer teams work well (or not) with each other. Comments and notes will help all project managers learn from previous experiences and apply the best fit translator/reviewer team to the project.

Algorithm Magic

Sounds good? Well, we don’t just stop here. Our translation management system applies a proprietary algorithm developed internally over the years to grade each translator based on all the info presented to it, including the above and how often a translator was early, on time, or late with a project. It then sorts them in the order of the highest to the lowest, giving the project manager an analytic method of selecting the best resource for each project. This objective grading is often unique to each project based on the project’s criteria.

Does your language service provider take this much care into selecting the translators that work on your projects? Ask and do find out. It is often the little things that when leveraged correctly make the big difference in meeting quality, schedule and budget requirements!

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