Recently I received a call from a prominent consulting company asking me if I can help them reduce their time gap between the release of research documents written in English and their translated versions. These documents are typically 100-page long and presented in English, but also provided to the client in printed formats translated into the client’s native language. The content in these documents is very time sensitive and delays in translation are causing problems.
Authoring and Translating in Parallel Using Translation Memory
Typically, we recommend the top-down translation and localization process which facilitates the translation while the content is being developed. With the translation of the bulk of the content already in place, it takes little time to update the translation once the final document is released, allowing for virtually a simultaneous release in all needed languages.
After a brief discussion, although the client has access to translation memory tools, it became clear why they did not do the translation simultaneous to the generation of the content. The content generated is amassed during a lengthy period of time involving very large amount of data and multiple analysis and scenarios that are then condensed significantly into the finally released document. Unlike software development or documentation authoring where the large majority of the software and content developed end up being released, in this case, a much smaller amount of all that was evaluated and analyzed ends up being released. Hence, translating the entire data and content would make the process very costly and inefficient.
Consider the 80/20 Rule
Since translating the entire data and content from the get-go is not financially feasible, consider identifying the 20% of the content that is 80% likely to be used and translate it ahead of the final document release. If you are only using 10% of the entire content developed in your released document, by translating 20% of the most likely used content you may be able to leverage the translation of about 80% of the source document right after its release. Yes, it would have cost you twice as much to translate the additional 12% unused content, but the additional investment will possibly speed up your translation process by 80%!
Consider Online Translation Collaboration Tools
While most translation groups today use translation memory tools, very few actually use them in an online collaborative mode. Online translation tools now allow virtual teams to collaborate anywhere in the world by sharing translation segments, terminology, queries and additional translation assets. This will not only makes dividing up a translation task among multiple translators feasible, it will facilitate translation consistency, accuracy and the management of all translation assets that result from the group effort with little overhead to mention. Furthermore, it will help keep all content securely managed and controlled in one area under your control. At GlobalVision, we use Wordbee as a platform, but there are other industry solutions that have similar features and functionality.
With the advent of such tools, you have the ability to divide a project into multiple translators and editors to expedite the translation and proofing process with minimal impact on translation style and quality. Just make sure that the selected translators and editors are team players that are willing to contribute within the process.
Minimize Unintended Delays
With any translation project, unintended problems creep up accumulating delays that often frustrate all stakeholders making them all point fingers at each other. This is how you can proactively minimize these problems.
Train All Participants on the Process and Proper Use of Tools
You want to hit the translation project running with a team that understands the process you have put in place and the ins and outs of the tools they will use. Often, translators are not technology experts and do require training on how to use the tools and the importance of following a certain process. Invest in ensuring that everyone is up to speed and fully supportive of the team and the process.
Reliable Terminology/Glossary Databases
While developing content, authors should create a glossary of terms that are specific to the industry and properly define them for anyone in or outside the industry to understand. Early in the process, have your translators go over these glossaries and translate them to create equivalent verified glossaries, approved by the client if possible, before the final translation phase is performed. Having access to the key terminology is essential to the release of quality translation in a timely maner.
Access to Supporting Documents
Give your translators as much access to support documents and time to study them, to help them better understand the context of the content to be translated before the translation begins, or at least before the final review begins. With better understanding of the subject, translators and editors are better positioned to more quickly and accurately capture the intended meaning in the target language.
Access to the Author
Authors of content are usually the most knowledgeable individuals and have a full understanding of the intent their content is supposed to deliver. While the intended meaning is very clear to them when they write and read the content, it may not be as clear to any other party reading, letting alone translating it. Giving your translators access to the authors to present them their queries, can make the difference between a successful and a failed translation.
Authors’ time however is often very precious and scarce. This is why an efficient process with the correct tools and infrastructure is required to facilitate the sharing of knowledge without creating delays, distractions or inconveniences. With the right collaboration process, authors will only have to invest minutes a day to guide the translators to the intended meaning when queries arise. This input can be saved in a knowledge base that can be made accessible to all translators and editors. Bottom line, unless translators understand the intended meaning of the source text, it is almost impossible for them to generate translated text that is both meaningful and accurate.
The Costliest Translation is the One that You Cannot Use
Most of the recommendations provided above will increase the cost of the translation, but the dividends can be measured in the reduction of time needed to complete the translation and the increased quality of output that often impacts client satisfaction and therefore repeat business. These dividends will help delivery time-sensitive content to its intended audience when needed and will minimize ambiguities in delivering the content that often produce confusion and distraction detrimental to the purpose at hand.
For more information on how to establish a process that can minimize time needed for translation release and increase translation quality, contact GlobalVision today!
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