Risk Management in Localization: Managing Resources, Budget and Uncertainties

The concept of managing a localization project may seem simple: receive a work order, consider requirements and budget, and then allocate the resources. However, the process involves so many people and factors that analysis, planning and, also, risk management are mandatory actions for a translation team.

Sometimes, risk management is an overlooked subject, but it’s crucial in any workflow. Project Managers, Account Managers and Quality Assurance Managers, instinctively or not, all acknowledge that some situations may pose more risks than others (e.g. a very tight deadline), and they take actions to mitigate them. Risk management is the process of managing intentionally and systematically the uncertainties that may occur during the course of a project.

Definitions and Types

Risk management implies dealing proactively with uncertainties before they happen. Technically, reacting to a risk after it occurred is not risk management. Identifying and foreseeing possible setbacks allow leaders and managers to come up with the best strategies and solutions to increase the likelihood of project success.

But what is a risk? According to the Project Management Institute, risks are uncertain events that can have a positive or negative effect on at least one project objective. There are different types of risks:

  • Technical Risks, which are related to the technical aspects of a project, like requirements, software or quality.
  • External Risks, which depend on agents that are not under the scope of the organization, like vendors, suppliers, market fluctuations or natural disasters.
  • Organizational Risks, which are related to the way a team organizes its workflows and operations.
  • Project Management Risks, those related to the potential setbacks regarding estimating, planning, communicating and/or controlling the course of a project.

A Proactive Framework

A systematic understanding of the processes managers are involved in nurtures the framework that strongly supports the daily operations within an organization. Part of this background are the actions that can mitigate and reduce projects’ risks. It’s important to point out that risk management is an integral approach that not only involves Project Managers, but rather the entire organization.

Typically, risk management implies three main actions. First, managers identify risks and assess the likelihood and potential damage of each, which helps them prioritize and address the most relevant ones. Once these steps are done, the team puts together a plan to respond to the identified risks.

Being aware of the types of risks and the possible scenarios where they emerge, and having a proactive approach to them, is an integral part of the job of any translation team. The more systematic and organized the commitment to risk management is, the more successful and experience-driven any localization workflow will be.


What is Translation Memory Alignment and How Can I Use It?

Technology can sure come in handy sometimes, especially in the translation industry. CAT tools are one such piece of technology that can make translation work faster and more accurate. CAT, which translates to “Computer Assisted Translation”, is a term that can describe software used by translators to improve their efficiency and quality. A translation memory (TM) is just one feature of CAT tools, but is an important one. A TM serves as a database which stores previously translated text such as words, phrases, and sentences. Despite how useful a TM is, clients may not always have access to one. Let’s look at why that may be and how the issue can be remedied through the use of translation memory alignment. 

Why a Translation Memory May Not Be Used

Using a TM with previously translated text is extremely beneficial to achieve consistency in style and terminology throughout all translated materials, but in some cases clients can’t provide linguists with TMs. This means that neither translators nor clients can leverage prior work when translating new documents. 

There are a variety of reasons why a TM may not be available for use. It could be because the linguist wasn’t using a CAT tool at the time they began translating documents for a client. In some cases, the client may simply not have access to a TM file utilized by a translator they no longer work with and who did not deliver the file during their handoff.

Regardless of the reason a TM may not be available, if the original files and the translated versions are at hand, this inconvenience can be quickly overcome.

Where Translation Memory Alignment Comes In

For those who want to utilize a TM, without having to start from scratch, translation memory alignment allows for the user to import two files representing the same text in two different languages and align the sentences side by side to generate a TM file. This process allows you to build a repository of translation units that will be saved to the TM and can be utilized in future translation projects. 

The translation memory alignment process can be completed through different tools. Most CAT tools offer their own alignment feature, but there are others in the market as well that specialize in this process.

A Personal Touch

Some alignment tools will generate a report with a “quality score” that gives an indication of how successful the alignment was. Translation memory alignment projects should always be performed by a linguist who knows the two languages being handled. The linguist will check each segment and approve correct matches or fix incorrect matches in order to perfect the TM. Human work will help ensure the alignment is 100% correct. This intervention is especially helpful when dealing with documents that have complex formatting that can lead to accuracy issues during the alignment process.


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.


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 incompliances 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 incompliances 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 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, non-translatable lists, all allow integrating important guidelines into CAT tools, and that reduces the margin of error or incompliance.

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 projects’ 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.

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The Value of DTP Services in Translation Workflows

The Value of DTP Services in Translation Workflows

The workflows Language Services Providers manage include more than the translation or edition of a source text. A certain project may need other professional services to ensure a finished and high-quality deliverable. These tasks can be voice-over, subtitling, video editing or graphic design, among others.

Specifically, when translating textual materials (like flyers, books, handbooks, posters, brochures, and so on), desktop publishing (DTP) is a crucial part of the workflow. In the localization industry, the DTP service mainly implies formatting a translated document using page layout software. Specialists recreate the original format, taking into account typesetting and layout, graphics, images, etc.

However, DTP specialists can also work before the translation begins, preparing documents so they are suitable for import into CAT tools. Hence, DTP is a process that can take place before or/and after translation.

Editable documents

Textual materials can be files stored in many different editable formats. The most common and accessible in the industry are Word documents and InDesign documents (IDML). These can be imported into CAT tools, which has many advantages in a translation workflow. Namely because they provide features that help with consistency and accuracy, like translation memories, termbases and quality assurance settings.

If the documents have non-editable images or graphics with text (maps, charts, diagrams), DTP specialists can extract it. Once it’s translated, they insert the text in the graphics retaining the original format.

Scanned documents

DTP specialists can also process and prepare scanned documents and photographs of textual materials that need translation. As stated before, it is always better to have as input for translation an editable text, since with it, the management and linguistic team can process it using a CAT tool.

Optical character recognition (OCR) is a technology that can distinguish printed or handwritten text characters in digital images or scanned paper documents. This way, it’s possible to get an editable version of the text, suitable for edition, formatting, searching and data processing. So, by using OCR software, DTP specialists can provide the translation team with editable documents from non-editable source texts.

However, to get an editable input document is not always possible. Some scanned documents have several pages with unintelligible handwriting or bad quality resolution, so OCR software doesn’t come with good results. In these cases, translators must work from them directly.

Extract of a scanned document processed with OCR

The final eye

DTP is not the final step of a project involving it. After the DTP specialist has worked on the files, a linguist (it can be part of the project or someone specialized in the task) must proofread the material. This last editor will review the formatted document in order to ensure the target text is accurately embedded in the original layout. He or she will also check that DTP specialists inserted no involuntary mistakes during their work process. Furthermore, they search for omissions, bad line breaks, spacing errors, spelling and punctuation errors, and text aspect.

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What is Quality in the Translation Industry?

Quality. One little word that can mean so much. We strive for quality in every area of our lives. From award winning entertainment to organic food ingredients, who doesn’t prefer things to be top notch? We’re first taught how to produce quality work in school. Receiving a good grade on a paper or exam is a pretty clear indicator of a job well done. After school though, things can get a bit murky. 

Once we enter the workforce, the expectations of what quality work means can vary greatly. In the translation industry, quality work is the key to not only keeping clients happy but to producing effectively translated texts. 

Quality in the Final Translation

Accuracy is of course an important component of creating a quality translation, but accuracy alone does not guarantee quality. The translator must ensure that the final text properly reflects the meaning of the source text, has the same intended effect, and accomplishes all project parameters. 

During the translation process, there are three types of errors worth keeping an extra sharp eye on. Errors of meaning which encompass using incorrect terms or forgetting to add or remove a word. Spelling and grammar errors can add unnecessary confusion. And last but not least, errors of compliance that may relate to a brand’s specific style guide or language fluency.

Another important aspect of a quality translation is whether or not the text meets cultural standards as well as linguistic ones. A literal translation can literally get lost in translation if the translator does not account for cultural differences such as pop culture references, humor, politics, and values. 

Quality in the Process

While quality is subjective, there are certain procedures and processes designed to help linguists produce quality translations. For example, per ISO 17100, it’s required that at least two linguists work on the translation. One translates and the second reviews the translation. For certain projects, it can be beneficial to work with three linguists so that there is a final proofreader ensuring quality. These procedures help keep translation teams on the path to quality. Terra Translations is certified in ISO 17100 which provides the framework for our team to certify quality management procedures.

Similarly, following respected professional standards, like ISO 9001:2015, is helpful for ensuring translation quality. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) develops standards for a variety of projects and translation companies can follow their set standards in order to enact a quality control method. The ISO standards are typically updated every five years, which helps certified firms continue to produce high quality work.

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Terminology Management: What is It & Why It’s Needed

Let’s talk about communication. See what we did there? All jokes aside, communicating is one of the most important things we do in our daily lives. On a bigger scale, proper communication is especially vital to organizations who deal with the public in one format or another. Nowadays, organizations can operate in a multitude of different linguistic communities. Each of which can require the use of different languages. Achieving the highest quality communication in a variety of languages demands professional translation services. Top tier translation professionals often utilize a proactive approach that includes terminology management in order to ensure effective communication.

What is Terminology Management?

When it comes to translation, terminology management can guarantee the usage of correct terms in all materials and communications that come from an organization. Terminology should be consistent across all areas of a company, such as in product development and distribution. 

In order to successfully manage terminology, one must collect the terms that are of specific interest to an organization. For example, a medical device manufacturer may utilize highly-specific medical terms. An engineering firm would need to master the translation of terms relating to materials and mechanical processes. Once the translation team collects the appropriate terms, a vital part of terminology management surrounds documenting the terms properly. In other words, identifying definitions, usage guidelines, product associations, and parts of speech. Terminology management can also guide both writers and translators towards using consistent language.

What is a Termbase?

An important part of terminology management is having a robust termbase. A termbase is a database where terminology is normally managed and published. Termbases can contain words and expressions that have specialized meaning. For example, these terms can be technical, scientific, market-specific, or political. The terms can also be ones that are prominent in any customer-facing materials. Such as slogans, names of products, features, programs, parts, and packaging.

Termbases are commonly used within CAT tools, which can come in handy during the translation process as it allows translators to review just one document while working. During the translation process, the software can identify and highlight any terms that are already in the termbase. The translator can then review the suggested translation that appears in the termbase.

By utilizing a centralized termbase, writers and translators can work towards ensuring appropriate use of language throughout the organization. When working without a termbase, you risk editors having to work through language problems with only their personal knowledge as a guide. This can lead to missing inconsistencies and issues with text. 

Termbase management combines terminology work and database administrative tasks that support the systematic collection, description, processing, presentation, and distribution of information about the terms and linguistic units used throughout an organization. Parts of speech, grammar, context, usage notes, and definitions of terms can find a home in the termbase.

What are the Benefits of Terminology Management? 

Translators and writers clearly benefit from the usage of terminology management. These guides allow them to work quicker and increase accuracy. Those benefits can reach every area of an organization. Proper terminology management can help improve productivity, profitability, customer relations, and the public perceptions of a brand. Not to mention, you can potentially increase safety and lessen opportunities for confusion amongst your customer base. Consistency can also help improve an organization’s professional reputation. Which is why it’s important to treat managing terminology as an ongoing project. As language and the needs of the organization evolves, it’s important that terminology management improves as well.

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What is Desktop Publishing (DTP)?

The greatest benefit of using a translation company over Google Translate or freelancers is the superior quality of work. This is due to the systematic process and additional oversight put in place by the Language Service Provider (LSP). An integral part of this process is Desktop Publishing (DTP). Typically one of the final phases in a translation or localization project, DTP is the redesign of a translated document using page layout software. 

Translating or localizing does not always end with the rendering of one language to another. The translated text will often have different sentence structure and length when compared to the original. German, for example, can be up to 30 percent longer than when translated from English. Arabic is written right-to-left, therefore, translations from Arabic require modifications to the entire layout. From typesetting to graphic placement, many projects need a redesign post-translation. Re-formatting may be necessary for brochures, newspapers, collateral materials, booklets, and manuals. 

The Process

If a document requires heavy formatting, the client will typically send the file in an InDesign or exported PDF file. Translators will work on these files by means of Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools. The tools allow them to focus solely on the text, ensuring quality in the translation and consistency in the terminology. Formatting is a focal point for the DTP specialists, not the linguists.

DTP usually falls near the end of the project management process. After a translation is complete, the project goes to the DTP specialist. The DTP specialist will import the translated text and work on the design. The goal is to mirror the formatting of the original document. They also take a look at numerical formats and ensure they reflect the local currency, time, and date. Lastly, they confirm images are appropriately localized to their target region.

Upon DTP completion, the linguist performs a post-layout review. Educated in specific rules of the target language, linguists leverage their expertise accordingly. They check for new typos, flag incorrect line breaks, and note unnecessarily truncated text. Comments made on the file, typically a PDF, indicate to the DTP specialists exactly what needs to be edited before exporting the final version.

The Benefits of DTP

In-house DTP teams are a great benefit because they add an extra layer of quality assurance in the translation process. DTP specialists are well-versed in design so that linguists can devote their full attention to localizing with the utmost accuracy. 

Additionally, DTP often speeds up a project’s timeline. Because they are highly trained in their skill set, they are able to work quickly to format a project in a variety of programs as specified by the client. This saves the client time from plugging in the translated text themselves and risking the possibility of error if they are unfamiliar with the target language. The DTP specialists can make informed design choices quickly and reduce the risk of inconsistencies.