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Translation Projects

Translation projects is certanly a term that you have heard of before. Have you ever wonder why translation agencies refer to translations as projects? Well, here are some characteristics of a project. So ask yourself, is a translation a project?

  1. Unique – Every project is different in nature. There is no project that is exactly alike.
  2. Cross functional – Projects involve a group of people working together, usually being coordinated by a project manager to meet project deadlines, cost objectives and quality requirements.
  3. Temporary – Every project comes to an end at one point. Projects are rarely ongoing.
  4. Change – Projects are usually started to evoke some sort of change.
  5. Uncertainty – Projects can also be uncertain.

A project can range from buying a car all the way to realizing a government research objective, such as finding a cure for cancer for example. A translation project can range from translating a single document into another language, or even translating an entire magazine into 25 languages every single time the magazine is issued. These types of projects are small in relation to a large government project, but they usually have very tight deadlines and very high quality requirements. Depending on how many languages are required for the translation project, a single translation project might involve more than 50 people or even more. So in fact, translation projects can be quite challenging.

Let’s talk about the characteristics listed above with regard to translations.


Although translation projects seem to be repeated again and again in the case of new documents coming out belonging to the same set or series, by nature, text is always different. In addition, each customer is different, having various linguistic and quality requirements

A single project could entail translation a user manual to translating a brochure for a foreign market.

Cross functional

There is a lot more to what happens in the world of translation than meets the eye. The document to be translated is dealt with by a project manager who usually acts as the coordinator of the translation project itself, being both an interface between the customer, proofreaders or entire quality teams. In some cases, there are also other experts involved, ranging from experts in the field of localization, subject matter experts, all the way to translation memory managers.


Every translation project comes to an end. Although, for ongoing translations that are associated with one another, at the beginning of each project, older projects have to be taken into account. This includes, for example, using the same translators, using translation memories, utilizing term lists from other projects to ensure accuracy, as well as looking at lessons learned to avoid any possible errors or misunderstandings, thus ensuring quality acceptance and reducing risk.


A translation, although in many cases being a sub-project in a larger project, does evoke change. For example, let’s take a website that has to be translated into several different languages for a German product that has to be launched onto several other foreign markets. This translation brings about change by making business as usual and operations different. This change could entail accepting orders in the foreign market for example.


This is the hardest thing to deal with in projects because there is risk whenever a project is carried out. There is risk for example that a deadline, quality or cost requirement may not be met. For any project, it is crucial to ensure that risk is continually monitored and remedial action is taken in the event of an issue. Each customer is different, each text is different and everyone has different expectations. Agencies use their experience and expertise to ensure that customer acceptance is obtained. This is done by recording feedback from customers as well as ensuring continual quality management efforts for translations, translators, proofreaders and infrastructure requirements. So the truth of the matter is, if your translation projects tend to be similar, it is advantageous to work with a single agency. With time, the risk to your translation projects will also decrease considerably.

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