Whenever you, a translation buyer, have a large or otherwise challenging text to translate, your project begins long before translation itself starts. If you want top quality, you need to think through your project ahead of time and start working on the plan as soon as possible. Any delays on your part will reduce the time available to complete the project, and less time means lower quality. This article lists some of the most important preparations:
Looking for a translation vendor
First and foremost, you need to find a vendor. Whether you want to engage a translator directly or use a translation agency, finding a high-quality translator is a challenge, especially if your text is difficult. The earlier you initiate the search process, the higher your chances of receiving the translation within a reasonable time frame.
Preparing the translation project
You need to prepare your project for translation properly. High-quality translation is only possible when the original text is crystal clear to your translation team. Check the text for errors, inconsistencies, or any other problems that may cause misunderstanding or trigger questions from the vendor. Remember to gather reference materials as well, so that the team has enough context to understand the original better.
Planning to succeed
Proper planning is crucial. A small and plain Microsoft Word document is one thing, but a huge manual is quite another. Larger projects may involve additional steps, such as review by an in-house employee, DTP, and post-DTP proofreading. Failure to plan these activities upfront will likely result in problems and delays. For example, if you want to have the translation checked by an in-house employee, this needs to be done right after translation, in a bilingual format; that is, while the translation process is still underway. Doing this after the translation process—after DTP and post-DTP proofreading—is ineffective and costly.
Post-DTP proofreading on your end should be planned ahead, too. Give your proofreader ample time and have her follow an established procedure. This means going through all the final files, highlighting both linguistic and formatting issues, and then sending the issues to the translation team all at once. Such a process will produce better results than having no schedule and procedure at all, in which case the proofreader might send her comments one by one by e-mail as soon as she notices each problem.
To avoid delays between activities requires setting up automatic notifications, so that whenever an activity is completed, the next one can start immediately. If triggering the next activity depends on someone sending a notification manually, this will invariably cause delays.
By implementing these best practices for planning translation, you will be sure to find the right translation team and make it possible for them to do a good job. Freeing people from working under pressure is rewarding enough in itself—following a plan will give everyone enough time to schedule their activities for the most effective work. And you will also send a clear message to all stakeholders that you are very serious about quality.
If you have questions about this post, feel free to ask in the comments below or by contacting me through LinkedIn.