Workflows, Processes and Translation

Posted on Posted in Translation quality

The difference between working with the guy down the street that translates things now and then and a professional language service provider is like night and day. A lot of this has to do with the fact that a LSP (language service provider) follows fixed processes and adheres to established workflows within the scope of translation projects.

Effective project management within the scope of translation services is paramount to ensure this happens. Everyone develops routine in anything they do and, a lot of times, workflows and processes are developed on an individual basis subconsciously. Devising and implementing workflows and processes at a conscious level is what is necessary to provide excellent translation services.

Let’s look at processes and workflows in turn:

Processes

Having strict processes – interdependent and linked procedures – is important during the execution of any translation project. These processes will determine the level of service you provide (or are being rendered) as they define what your service truly is and how much quality it possesses.

A very basic set of processes that occur when an individual freelance translator does his/her work would entail the following:

  1. Receive and analyze document
  2. Translate document
  3. Proofread document
  4. Send document to translation agency
  5. Invoice translation

A translation office that has a larger infrastructure may be much more complex depending on the services they offer. A translation office is also forced to uphold processes to some extent due to the volume of translations they receive on a daily basis. In some cases, this can be hundreds of thousands of words a day in several different languages. If this was not organized, there would be chaos. A translation office’s processes may include:

  1. Receipt of the document(s) and specific criteria from the customer.
  2. Set up a potential translation project and document all requirements. Convert documents into translation format and compare with translation previous translation memories or possible terminology requirements. Rename documents according to a configuration management strategy so that they may be tracked at a later date according to their respective status.
  3. Choose and contact appropriate translators to establish timelines, cost and identify issues.
  4. Contact the customer with a quote and discuss any possible issues regarding the translation.
  5. Send the document to translator, establishing a clear line of communication to ensure requirements are met and track progress.
  6. After receipt from the translator, ensure that that the translation is complete, perform consistency analysis and send to a proofreader.
  7. ….
  8. … etc.

Depending on the quality of the translation office, this list could be quite long and very complex, even to the extent of having quality teams, DTP experts and subject-matter experts check the quality of translations.

Once these processes have been established, they should be upheld no matter how large or small the translation may be. By doing this, a continuous level of quality can be ensured.

Workflows

A workflow can be defined as a series of activities to achieve a certain task. As in any business, the workflows necessary to perform the job should be consciously written out and analyzed. A flow chart is very useful for this purpose. Within the scope of a translation process, map out all of the activities necessary to perform that translation project well according to the defined processes, and analyze them thoroughly. Upon doing this the first time, you may find redundancies (things you do for no real purpose) and inefficiencies (things that could be improved).

Mapping processes and workflows within the scope of translation services

The idea behind mapping out processes and workflows and analyzing them is to achieve continuous improvement. Keep in mind that competition in the world of translation is fierce and there are millions of offices and translators all trying to get better and better. It is therefore necessary to continuously analyze processes and workflows to improve them and thus, improve your service. This can be done by writing detailed descriptions of each and every workflow/process and documenting them and their interdependencies within a flow chart. It is also important to define what inputs (e.g. documents) are required to perform the respective process/workflow and who is responsible for carrying out the work required.

If you are reading this and you are a client receiving translation services, it is good to ask your LSP about the processes they adhere to, but you only have to examine the final quality of your translation to determine if your LSP’s processes are sufficient and being upheld. It is only in this way can you make the decision on if the translator or translation office is providing the services you require according to the standards that you desire.

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