Project Management: Adding Value to Translation Workflows

Contrary to what it may seem, a language service provider (LSP) doesn’t simply offer linguistic services. If so, hiring a single translator would be the same as hiring a translation company. More specifically, LSPs’ primary function is to provide project management services. This is, localization specialists manage workflows from start to finish, adding value to the translated content that the LSP delivers.

Also, project managers (PMs) are crucial because they are responsible for the entire translation process. They manage all the resources needed to tackle promptly and efficiently any project they supervise, including budget, human resources, technology assets and time.

Knowledge Boost

A complete set of skills serves as background when managing a translation workflow. First and foremost, PMs need analytical insight. PMs examine source texts and project requirements to determine which services will be needed and then establish a schedule. Time tracking is part of the value of the final product, since it implies managing time efficiently to deliver outstanding quality within the best deadline possible. 

Moreover, they select among a pool of vendors the right fit for every project. Each language professional has a different set of expertise, competencies and strengths that determine their suitability for a certain scenario. However, responsibility, proficiency and mastering of the domain are the basic preconditions for any vendor to be part of a team. 

On the other hand, PMs know how to best leverage IT resources and Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools. Through the use of translation memories, glossaries, references and quality assurance tools, they manage terminology and other linguistic inputs to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Finally, supervision is another factor that contributes to enriching the final product. PMs are in charge of monitoring the translation process. This means that any potential setback will be properly addressed on time.

Learning from Experience

The experience obtained from a project becomes input for further projects, since managing is a process of continued learning. This expertise is also what PMs put in motion in any project. They can support clients by suggesting solutions or guiding them through a range of options, noting the pros and cons of each alternative.

Furthermore, PMs analyze and manage possible strategies that add value to projects. A PM may spot that a project can benefit from a glossary or a style guide, or by adding additional revision steps, creating channels of communication for the team, etc. All these actions help ensure accurate translations and quality-driven deliverables.

PMs at the Core

PMs are involved in all the decisions concerning a translation workflow. However, they don’t work alone. Vendor managers offer support for recruiting the best talent in the industry, or localization engineers enhance the use of CAT tools, for instance. In any event, PMs bring their industry knowledge, experience and expertise to the scene. They contribute by adding value and positively impacting the quality of projects within their reach.

Spanish: A Gendered Language Seeking to be More Inclusive

Spanish: A Gendered Language Seeking to be More Inclusive

In recent years, the term “Latinx” has been proposed — and begun to come into use in the U.S. — as a shift to a more inclusive Spanish language when it comes to gender. In other countries of Latin American and even in Spain, people are also looking for ways to be more inclusive. In order to understand why some people are arguing for a shift towards gender-neutral or non-sexist language, it’s important to look closer at how gender works in the Spanish language and how the language can evolve. 

How Gender Works in Spanish

In the Spanish language, all nouns have a gender. Other words used in conjunction with nouns agree in gender as well, so articles and adjectives are also gendered. Typically, masculine nouns end in an O and feminine nouns end in an A. Spanish is not the only language structured like this. Spanish is just one of many gender-based languages that defaults to a generic masculine ending. If the gender of a subject is not specified or known, or if the noun is representing a group with both masculine and feminine members in it, then the masculine ending will be used. For example, in Spanish the word for boy is “niño” and the word for girl is “niña”, but when you have a group of children of mixed genders, the word used would be “niños”. 

For example, in Spanish the word for boy is “niño” and the word for girl is “niña”, but when you have a group of children of mixed genders, the word used would be “niños”.

Inclusion of Female and Non Binary Individuals

Those who are fighting for more inclusion of women and non-binary individuals are changing how they speak and write. In many cases, they are replacing the masculine O and the feminine A with a gender-neutral E. Let’s look at how this may work in practice. The default word for the word friends is “amigos” (which is masculine). Those looking to make changes in the language are using “amigues” instead. 

In many cases, they are replacing the masculine O and the feminine A with a gender-neutral E. Let’s look at how this may work in practice.

Not everyone wants to see these changes made. The Royal Spanish Academy in Spain wants to leave the current gendered structure of Spanish as is. From their perspective, the default masculine plural is intended to be inclusive and represents females as well as males. 

It’s important to highlight, though, that without making formal changes to the language, there are ways to make Spanish more modern and inclusive in everyday life. It does take a little bit of creativity, but workarounds for avoiding using default masculine nouns do exist.

How Should Translators Proceed?

When it comes to translation work, should translators observe the norm or adapt? There is no one correct answer here. Who your audience is will largely influence whether or not you should stick to the traditional structures or should adapt to these modern solutions to making the language more inclusive

Language is a living entity that changes and evolves over time, it does not remain stagnant. There is room for change, the question is, is your audience ready for that change? While the Royal Spanish Academy may say no, plenty of young individuals are fighting for change. Take your target audience into account when deciding how you want to communicate your message. Will they be more likely to engage with your content if you make gender-neutral changes or will that push them away? Sticking with what your audience is most comfortable with may not please everyone who comes across your content, but will hopefully keep the base of your audience happy. For a translation project to be successful, you need to aim to deliver your message as effectively as possible, so consider how you can make that happen.

Multilingual Solutions Meet Multilingual QA Managers

Global Needs, Multilingual Solutions: Meet Multilingual QA Managers

Due to the fact that some language service providers offer integral solutions for globalized markets or products, they sometimes tackle projects that don’t involve a unique language pair, but rather multiple combinations. To assist in these endeavors, there are specialized reviewers that know how to perform quality checks in multilingual projects: the Multilingual Quality Assurance Managers (QAMs). Like any other QAMs, Multilingual QAMs review the material and manage resources and instructions, but for projects with more than one language pair—three, ten, fifteen, or more! This doesn’t mean they master all the potential languages a project may involve. Multilingual QAMs rather use their linguistic knowledge from the languages they do speak to comprehend glossaries or instructions for other combinations. In addition, they use Quality Assurance (QA) automation tools in their favor.

We talked to two of our most experienced Multilingual QAMs at Terra to offer expert insight on this challenging task.

The Three Functions

Both Verónica Ríos (Senior Multilingual QAM) and José Antonio Buzón Carbajo (Multilingual QAM) agree that the position has three main functions. On the one hand, they perform the final quality checks before delivery. They use QA features in CAT tools or specific software to do so. “We have the capability of searching for severe errors or in compliance with client’s instructions or glossaries in any language,” José explained. Stylistic or preferential changes are not under their scope, since that’s what native editors review.

On the other hand, their second function is to make all the client’s preferences, style guides, and instructions easily accessible to vendors. As Verónica said, “We manage and update all the resources and instructions regularly because our job is both corrective and preventive. We try to define guidelines for issues that we know may pose challenges among vendors. By doing so, we try to avoid mistakes or compliance before they happen.” Because of this, Multilingual QAMs need to be very rigorous and organized to correctly classify and update the materials and instructions for every language pair.

Lastly, QAMs manage feedback. They receive and analyze clients’ evaluations, and try to translate them into clear instructions for the teams. However, they also provide feedback to vendors. “At this point, building a solid communicational approach is key for us,” José added. As he explained, it’s the basis to provide constructive feedback to receptive linguists, who likewise help QAMs when they have questions about the text in their native languages.

QAM Starter Pack

QAM in general and Multilingual QAM, in particular, rely on specific IT resources, such as CAT tools’ features or QA software. These are mandatory tools that ensure quality by avoiding or detecting evitable errors that the human eye may fail to catch. “We as QAMs take full advantage of the resources memoQ offer,” Verónica explained. Term bases, translation memories, QA rules, auto-translation rules, and non-translatable lists, all allow the integration of important guidelines into CAT tools, and that reduces the margin of error or compliance.

Moreover, José and Verónica recommend collaborative online resources to share information, like Google Spreadsheets. If supervised, updated, and organized, they allow sharing in real-time valuable information with vendors around the globe. They can be helpful for many uses, like Q&A sheets, instructions, or feedback.

Curiosity and Imagination

Regarding the skills needed for Multilingual QAMs, Verónica thinks that experienced editors “have a trained eye to know what to correct and what to prevent,” she explained. Furthermore, being enthusiastic about QA automation and organized with time management and resources are, for her, mandatory assets.

Apart from that, as José sees it, a Multilingual QAM must be creative and willing to find new solutions to the project’s needs. “Too much imagination is never enough in this role,” he concluded. Any challenge is a new opportunity to search for ways to boost a team’s capabilities, always with QA tools as allies.