While the impact of poor translations can be easy to understand, how do you ensure you will receive the high quality translations you expect?

There tends to be multiple steps involved in the typical translation process – which means multiple opportunities for flaws in the system or errors to potentially slip into your content. To reduce the likelihood of possible translation missteps, start from the beginning.

Create a quality plan

Before you even begin translating content, your vendor should be working with you to map out a plan to track and manage quality throughout the entire translation process. This plan should outline quality safeguards around each step of the translation workflow, including submission, translation, desktop publishing (when applicable) and final approval. Below are questions you should ask your vendor to help you understand if quality checkpoints are inserted throughout the entire translation process:

Submission – When and how will your source files be submitted? Can your provider ensure they will not be lost? What if there are difficulties uploading? Are your files secure and protected?

All of these are valid questions for tracking quality standards during submission. Since files can be submitted in multiple ways depending on your preference, including through emails or certain translation management systems, defining submission details ahead of time can protect you from file confusion and misplaced material. If your vendor does use a translation management system for submission, it’s also important to understand the system’s level of security, functionality and the type of support you will be provided to ensure it lives up to your expectations.

Translation – Where will your content be located during translation? How do you ensure confidentiality? What translation process is being used? Who will be a part of the review and approval process?

The location of files – whether on the linguist’s desktop or in a vendor’s translation management system – should be defined. You’ll also want to define the particular processes for your translations (translation, editing, proofing, final formatted proof, etc.) and the people involved in each of these steps. Clearly laying out each of these steps will help you better manage the overall process, which is a major contributor to your translations’ quality.

Desktop publishing (DTP) (when applicable) – Will your vendor take the role of desktop publisher? If so, what type of training will you require? Will there be a proof step performed after final desktop publishing?

If your vendor is taking on the role of desktop publisher, it may be of value to have a desktop publishing quality checklist outlined for your vendor to follow and use during each project’s review – including guidelines for verifying images, spacing, fonts, characters, etc. This will implement better monitoring and maintaining of the desktop publishing to your quality standards. You may also want to include training requirements or a final review, depending on your translation standards.
Client approval – Will you take complete ownership over final approval? What quality checks will you require? How will you avoid re-work and revisions post delivery?

If you plan on taking complete ownership over the final approval of your translations, it’s key to have a consistent set of quality checks that reflect your total process plan. This ensures you’re meeting the quality standards set earlier and helps reduce the likelihood of re-translation being required.

Having a quality plan outlined for every step of the process prior to starting your translations creates better guidelines for all parties involved and helps avoid missteps and delays – adding a lot to the value of your content and the high standards of your workflows.

Not every company needs the same translation process. This is why it’s important to understand the scope of your project, your strategy and why you are localizing. Your vendor should be able to assist you with this and help you create a customized quality plan to establish your quality standards before you even start your translations.

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Ensuring translation quality: Creating a quality plan

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  • How to ensure tracking quality standards during the submission process
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