Translation company project and account managers frequently hear clients complain about the client review cycle. I have heard clients say, “If we had the ability to translate the file ourselves, we wouldn’t be hiring you!” My personal favorite is, “That’s why I pay you!”
Some clients expect to send out a source file and then step out of the translation process; however, it is their involvement in the translation, specifically the review process, that ensures that the most accurate and effective multilingual end product is delivered by their language service provider.
Whose feedback matters the most?
Translation agencies like GPI normally assign translators to the projects that have a specific skill set or industry expertise. But ultimately the client’s feedback in the review cycle is the most critical, as the client is closest to the product or service and the overall message and direction of the company. No one on the translation company team can ever replicate the level of detailed product knowledge possessed by the client.
The purpose of the client review is not to have the client edit or retranslate the content, but to have key terms and phrases unique to the industry or the company itself checked by native speakers within the client organization for accuracy and consistency.
Identifying the right internal reviewer
It is equally important to indentify the right person to review and approve the translation on behalf of the company. A co-worker with a few years of high school Spanish or French is not the ideal reviewer. It is suggested that a native speaker with the appropriate level of education and experience with the company’s products or service offering handle this task. Professional experience and business intelligence is essential to the person who will conduct the client review cycle.
If a company does not have such a person on-staff locally, then an in-country sales representative or a distributor with whom the client has a solid business relationship would be an ideal candidate. If multiple translation projects are planned, it is suggested that the same reviewer be used for all projects to help ensure consistency from project to project.
Maintaining schedule priorities with internal staff
It is essential that the client staff or partner conducting the client review does not push this activity to the “back burner.” The customer needs to be sure to communicate to the responsible party what their internal translation project deadlines are. Many clients at GPI use our Translation Tools to track this activity.
Using third-party translation review
Some client’s may choose to hire a third-party agency to review the translation, for instance document translation. This is not always preferable, as a third-party agency may not have the experience or history with the account to accurately assess the translation. They may also have an ulterior motive of securing future business instead of providing an objective review of the current translation.
If a third-party agency is used, clear guidelines need to be established to prevent the third-party agency from retranslating the content solely on stylist preference in order to validate their participation in the review. This is a good recommendation for your internal reviewers as well, as they too may fall victim to “editor’s syndrome.” Unnecessary stylist changes not only add time to the project, but could increase the overall translation project cost.
Appropriate reference materials for review
Regardless of whether the client chooses an internal reviewer, distributor or a the third-party agency, all appropriate glossaries, style guides and reference materials need to be distributed to the reviewers so they can accurately assess the translation.
Appropriate file format for the review
Clients need to jointly determine with their preferred translation company the best proofing/review format. At GPI, we highly recommend that clients use Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader to review and mark up PDF proofs. If PDF files are prepared properly, either product may be used to indicate insertions, deletions, and various types of comments. Incidentally, if the source file format is FrameMaker 10, your translation agency DTP staff may import PDF comments directly into FrameMaker, where “track changes” may be used to implement the final edits.
A copy of the GPI 2011 Client Review Packet is available to our clients, which provides a detailed explanation of the client review cycle and instructions on how to use Acrobat or Acrobat Reader to annotate PDF files.
For some documentation projects, MS Word can also be used effectively, if the client uses the “track changes” option in the program to clearly identify modifications, insertions or deletions to the copy. Comments can also be inserted into the text for the translation agency’s review or follow up. The client should avoid sending changes by email, fax or in a separate document as it is more difficult to track and implement these changes and thus increases the risk of error.