Your translations have been sent out for in-country review – but they’re not coming back. Here’s why:
It’s terribly frustrating: your team has put a lot of effort into getting a piece of new content translated, and now you’re having trouble getting your country stakeholders to perform the task of reviewing translations and then validating them.
Before you start berating your reviewers, think first: are you really doing everything you can to make the process as smooth as possible? After all, in-country reviews do take time, especially when it competes with the thousands of other things most reviewers have on their To-Do list. However, it shouldn’t take more time than necessary.
Are you providing translations to reviewers in a coordinated fashion?
Some reviewers receive translations from several teams, all at the same time. They don’t necessarily know the context for each piece, and they’re often left to arbitrate what priority to give to each piece. So reviewers decide to review translations on a first-come, first-serve basis, or react to whoever is the loudest or closest.
Have you given them an appropriate deadline?
Don’t give reviewers only two days to review a thought leadership piece, or two weeks to review a short product description. Give reviewers an indication of how much time they should spend on different types of content. If they’re continuously spending too much time, then there’s a problem. It would be wise to sit with both the translator and the reviewer to identify the source of the problem and then resolve it.
Are you providing them enough context?
If you don’t have a portal that allows people to review translations in context, online, then you need to provide that context. At the very least, you should send the source content along with the translation. Include urls, screenshots, templates – all of these can help the reviewer understand how the translation will be used and displayed.
Are you applying the right level of translation?
There are many types of translation, including machine translation (fast, cheap, lower quality), posted-edited machine translation (pretty fast and cheap, better quality), human translation (not as fast, not as cheap, higher quality), and transcreation (not usually fast, not cheap, high quality). Given the different levels of quality, speed and cost, it’s then up to you to identify on which content you’ll spend more and where less investment will be good enough.
For instance, you probably shouldn’t use post-edited machine translation on a conceptual thought leadership piece. You’ll simply make it harder and longer to review. At the same time, using human translation on a large body of structured content might be overkill. However, be sure to use transcreation to maintain the intent of your headlines and value propositions.
Does your translation vendor have access to supporting tools?
Translation vendors don’t always use the same translator for all content from the same company in the same language. If there’s no glossary that spells out what the appropriate translation is for a specific term, you will end up with different translations. It’s useful for translators to be able to contact someone to clarify any doubts about intended meaning.
Is your source content consistent?
Using specific terms and phrases in a consistent way helps create the impression of a cohesive brand. It also reduces translation costs by increasing the number of exact matches from your translation memory. This is particularly useful for content that has a specific structure – product descriptions, for example.
Is the original content written in a way that can be easily translated?
Poorly constructed original source content leads to poor translations, and country reviewers end up having to do a lot more than review – they have to rewrite. When there’s more work than was expected, people balk and put off working on it. Make sure your content is global-ready. It shouldn’t contain idioms that take much longer to translate because translators have to think of words with equivalent intent, which is a very subjective exercise. (Examples: A perfect storm. A deer caught in headlights. Here be dragons. Take it out of the park.). There’s a lot that can be said around writing for translation, but at the very least, use short sentences with simple sentence structures and words.
Do you have a back-up plan?
Sometimes, there really isn’t anybody to review translated content, so you need to find some way to support your local teams. In some cases, companies bring in another translation company to review what the first translation company has produced. Sometimes, they hire independent editors. I’ve even heard of one company that established a network of retired personnel to review their translated content.
So you see, there’s a lot that central content managers can do to ease and speed up the review process. Country web and content teams will thank you for your efforts.
This post is part of a series '7 things that make it harder to manage multinational websites'. Read other posts currently available in this series.