“Yesterday.” If this is the time that you normally want your translations back from a translation vendor, read this article, before you force your vendor to accept an urgent deadline the next time.
Something has to give, and that something is quality
Can translation be done overnight or twice as quickly as a client normally expects? Yes. Will this still be the same quality of translation? No! Unlike some other services, where it is possible to speed up delivery without sacrificing quality, translation quality takes a major hit, when a translation team works in a hurry.
Speeding up translation is not the same as, say, speeding up delivery of concrete. When you want a batch of concrete delivered to you the next morning instead of the next week, the equipment can bear this additional workload without decreasing quality. But translation is intellectual work that relies 100% on humans. A tired, overworked translator’s concentration span will decrease, resulting in mistakes.
Not enough time to do a good job
With urgent projects, a translation vendor may not have time to do the following:
- Research information properly on the Internet;
- Confirm an unclear or ambiguous original with the client;
- Let a translator check the changes made to the translation by an editor.
If you do not allow your translation vendor a cushion of time, be prepared for late delivery. Urgent projects often mean that a translation team has to work 12 or more hours a day. How realistic is that? Of course, there always will be emergencies that people cannot ignore. Spending time on those emergencies will make it impossible to complete the work on time.
Is it really urgent?
It is my belief that urgency is often overstated. Perhaps this is because people tend to expect immediate service 24×7 these days. It is not uncommon for us to provide an urgent translation and then, after a week passes, receive a question from the client, indicating that he/she has not even opened the translated file yet.
A client’s assumptions about the time required to do a translation may be inaccurate. I recommend having a translation professional estimate the time required instead of setting a deadline yourself. A team of professional translators is in in a better position to do that accurately.
Patience is important in many walks of life. Take, for example, credit card debt—impatience makes people sacrifice their future for instant gratification. If you want better results in the long term, you need to be patient about your purchases. The same holds true for translation. Be patient about deadlines, and you will enjoy higher quality.
For more information about the relationship between time and quality, read this article about the quality triangle in translation.