Interview: answers you need from a translation expert

By Acclaro
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Interview: answers you need from a translation expert

After decades of providing localization and translation services, you get to know what clients are looking for. You also learn from each experience, refine the process and develop some best practices.

Here, we ask Acclaro’s resident translation expert, Director of Translation Alessia Petrucci, about how you can set yourself up for success when working with your language service provider (LSP).

Q: what is the no. 1 question you get from clients?

A: Some of the questions I commonly get are: what are the profiles of your translators, can you show us your translators’ certifications and are your translators American Translators Association (ATA) certified or certified by other organizations. Savvy translation buyers dig a little deeper early on, asking key questions about which services they actually need (i.e., multilingual formatting, desktop publishing, quality assurance). They’re also concerned about how our services will fit into their overall editorial or product development process.

Q: how do you select your translators?

A: The selection of our translator, while a very important step in our path toward quality, is only the beginning. We rigorously test all of our translators, then analyze the program to make sure the right translators are assigned to it. From there, we train translators with program-specific instructions, provide them with reference material, edit 100% of their work and provide them with feedback. We also add value by recruiting and setting up teams, answering queries, managing projects and much more.

Acclaro also offers additional services that take our translation services to the next level. For more complex localization programs involving software, apps, websites and multimedia content, we offer linguistic testing once translation and editing are complete. This helps to identify, record and correct any inconsistencies or formatting issues in a testing environment before the product goes live. There’s also the option of an in-country linguistic review to ensure the content adheres to the local market’s conventions as well as your company’s brand voice.

Q: how does technology play into high-quality translations?

A: Using the latest industry tools and technologies helps automate steps and reduce manual tasks, which results in quicker turnaround times, improved quality over time and lower costs for you. Here at Acclaro, we’re tech independent, so we have no agenda to push certain solutions. Instead, we recommend only the technology that best meets your goals. Two helpful tools we use more and more with our clients are:

  • Translation memory

    Many companies that have a robust localization program with multiple translation programs can benefit greatly from translation memory (TM). Instead of wasting time and money translating the same terms and phrases time and time again, a TM allows you to store them for future use. TM is a computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool that keeps all your previously translated content in a database, so human translators can use it for updates and future translation programs. If the CAT tool is robust, it will offer linguists automatic quality checks, memory searches, integrated terminology and a good view of the source and target text. These all help to ensure consistency and adherence to the source text.

  • Terminology management

    Terminology management has two sides to it. One is related to technology. It’s critical to make sure linguists have the ability to view terminology and that it’s integrated with the CAT tool they’re using. There is another side, however, that comes before technology and has to do with knowledge: what terms are included and how are they defined, translated and verified against client feedback? And importantly, how are terms added once the program is in motion? Also, translators may ask questions about translations that aren’t in the glossary but maybe should be. It comes down to product knowledge and terminology management knowledge.

Q: what can clients do to ensure the translation process goes smoothly?

A: Once you partner with a translation expert, it’s important to take the time to go over your needs so we can customize a program and guide you through the process. You can contribute to a successful process in three key ways: 1) by sharing a translation style guide and glossary, 2) by keeping deadlines in mind and 3) by involving reviewers early in the process.

1. Invest in a precise translation style guide and glossary

The more context we obtain about a program at its early stage, the easier it will be to deliver quality and stay on budget. Ensuring a preparation phase with a good translation style guide and a well-researched glossary can help programs move along smoothly without terminology changes or style adjustments midway. These are time consuming and difficult to manage, especially with large programs with many linguists all working simultaneously.

If the client is available to offer input about preferred style and terminology, that increases the chances of satisfaction. There are many ways to say something, to address a user, to express a voice. The more precise these instructions, the better prepared we are to deliver high quality.

2. Keep timing in mind

Depending on the type of source text you have, it’s good to book in some lead time so we can prepare all the reference materials and start with all linguists on the same page. Some texts, like stylistic/marketing content, are naturally slower to process. The creative process for these translations requires an ongoing cycle of iterations and calibration to make sure we’ve hit the right tone and voice. Rushing marketing campaigns, multilingual websites or software launches is never a good idea.

If you’re working on global software releases, it’s also important to adopt a continuous localization methodology, which can bridge the gap between the localization and development teams. This enables faster translation turnaround times and faster time to market. Essentially, it just makes everyone’s job in the localization ecosystem significantly easier.

3. Involve reviewers early in the process 

If a client has reviewers, it is always great to involve them early in the process so they can review style guides and terminology and, if necessary, discuss their preferences with our linguists. That said, reviewing and approving translations is often a significant challenge for global organizations. In that case, we offer translation quality review and reporting as part of Acclaro’s enterprise translation services, or as a stand-alone independent service.

Q: what should clients look for when evaluating LSPs?

A: If I were an enterprise customer looking for a translation partner, I would ask tough questions, and evaluate their competency and service levels during the sales process. For example, do they have linguists or technology experts that are available to talk to you? Are these linguists willing to speak with your reviewers? Are they just using buzzwords? Are they able to describe their processes and make their knowledge evident? I’d also want to meet with key employees to review their approach to my company’s plans to ensure it aligns with my organization and goals. I’d expect answers regarding:

1. Communication

Acclaro encourages direct communication with our clients at all levels. We take the time to understand your needs. We listen, learn and care — always there to answer the phone, respond to emails and offer guidance.

2. Project management

Our project managers are experienced industry professionals with knowledge of many languages, localization best practices and intricacies. Working upfront with you and key stakeholders allows us to determine the right solutions that will scale as your localization needs grow.

3. Technology

As mentioned previously, Acclaro is tech independent which means we’re under no pressure to push any solutions on you. We listen to your needs, consider your team and budget and then recommend the right technology. We work with and use innovative translation tools to help reduce costs, maintain and improve brand consistency, and improve translation quality and turnaround times.

4. Transparency

Before, during and after a localization program, we perform a collaborative analysis of benchmarks, goals and necessary metrics, including:

    • Standard metrics around volume and spend
    • Quality metrics, including client review
    • ROI metrics based on client’s business

Enjoy a fruitful partnership with your LSP

As Petrucci pointed out, there are many important decisions to make (sooner rather than later) to ensure the success of your localized content. When the time comes to discuss your next localization endeavor, make sure you get the answers you need from your LSP. Once you do, you’ll discover that you’ve found a partner — not just a provider.

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