Last year, I explained why we think reasonable deadlines are beneficial for both clients and translators. Now, I would like to expand on one of those advantages: the quality of translation.
I see a direct correlation between the time allowed for translation and its quality. If a translation team is required to deliver earlier than they would normally prefer, something has to give. And often this something is the value-adding activities that contribute to quality.
In the complex multilingual projects of today, a common approach is to allow less time for the translation step compared to the other steps. For instance, the turnaround for the translation can be as short as a few days, while the DTP or proofreading steps take weeks. What this can do to the quality of the final product is quite obvious: you can spend weeks on polishing the layout and fixing minor typesetting errors, but if your translation is poor in the first place, this is a total waste of time. You are essentially putting a beautiful wrapping over a rotten core. Even if your wrapping is very good, it is unlikely to be of any help to the end users who will not be able to understand the basic message.
What are the exact activities a translation team is forced to reduce or eliminate altogether when a deadline is tight? Let me give you two examples from our practice:
- Ideally, a translator should take at least one day to complete the translation and then review it on the next day. Having the ability to take a break from the project and continue on the next day makes a major difference in terms of quality. This break enables the translator to look at the translation more critically and spot errors they could not see before. Obviously, by operating under a tight deadline, which does not allow this kind of break, the translator’s performance goes down.
- The next step is editing by a second linguist. We have discovered two activities, which are crucial to quality at this step, but are often skipped under tight deadlines. First, if time permits, the editor can discuss the issues they are unsure about with the translator instead of going ahead and making corrections, which might turn out to be wrong. Second, the translator has the ability to check the corrections made by the editor to make sure no errors were introduced. It is therefore quite unfortunate when these two activities are skipped due to a tight deadline.
What can you do to make sure you benefit from the value-adding quality assurance activities? My recommendation is to simply put quality first by giving your translator the time they deem necessary to do a good job. Remember the very basic idea taught by Dr. William Deming to the Japanese, which helped Japan rise to prominence: quality is cheaper. By simply allowing a few more days, you can avoid weeks or even months of fixing quality problems, as well as loss of business.
Contact us to receive a quote for your English to Russian translation and benefit from our rigorous quality assurance methods.