Technical problems in our line of work are frustrating, but it does not have to be this way. Last week, we had two similar situations with freelance partners, where the individual ran into problems with our files, but chose to spend time figuring out solutions instead of informing us:
- The first translator received a translation project to work on in OmegaT, but then realized he would rather do it in SDL Trados Studio—the program he was more comfortable with. Despite the instruction to translate in OmegaT, he picked up the source file from the OmegaT project and translated it with Studio. Then he delivered the file without saying a word. Of course, the resulting file was not compatible with our OmegaT project, and we ended up spending a few hours determining what had caused the problem and finding a fix.
- The second translator received an XLIFF file to translate. She opened it on her work computer successfully, but when she tried to open the same file on her home computer— where she was planning to do the actual translation—it would not open. At this point, she could have let us know about the issue, but she chose to look for a solution on her own. As a result, she spent an entire evening reinstalling her programs and looking for a solution on the Internet, but to no avail. Because of the lost time, she ended up refusing to do the project the next morning, despite her previous commitment.
Both of these situations were frustrating for every stakeholder! So why let them happen to begin with? Here are a few tips to help you avoid this kind of frustration:
- Do not be afraid to inconvenience the agency by sending your problem to them. First, it is the agency’s job to help you work effectively, which includes fixing technical issues with their files. Second, if you create technical problems or delays by keeping silent, you will cause much more inconvenience.
- Do not reinvent the wheel. Instead of finding the solution on your own, ask people who have more experience with what you are trying to accomplish and probably already know the solution. Especially when the agency created the problematic project in the first place.
- Do not be shy. What do you have to lose if you ask a question? The worst thing that can happen is that the agency will be unable to help, in which case you will be no worse off than before.
- Resist your natural propensity to fix the problem right away, to the detriment of your plans. If you spend several hours fixing a problem instead of translating, you are being ineffective. Not only you are losing time and money, but you might be also late with the delivery.
- Do not wait until it is too late to check whether everything you received from your client opens correctly and makes sense to you. If you wait too long, it will be more difficult to ask for help, because you will be embarrassed by your procrastination.
- Do not keep quiet in the hope that the agency will not notice you did something other than agreed. It is best to be transparent and honest.
As a freelance translator, whenever you run into technical problems with the files received from a translation agency, it is best to work with the agency to resolve the problem. Fixing it on your own is ineffective and may exacerbate the problem.