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A Sajan White Paper

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Ensuring quality: 10 questions you should ask your translation vendor

If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world. - Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Austrian-British philosopher

To compete in a global market, youve got to be able to speak the language or rather, all languages. And that is no easy task considering it is estimated that there are up to roughly 6,900 different languages in the world. Maybe your organization is not going to tackle every language, however, whether your translation needs transcend multiple languages or just a handful quality is critical. And unfortunately, it is not as easy as just translating word for word.

What lost in translation really means

There are many challenges that can get in the way of ensuring your translated message is clear, concise and maintains the intended meaning. The typical mistakes include: Grammatical errors - errors that deal with usage, tense, syntax and collocation. Example: the linguist uses the incorrect masculine/feminine inflection based on the grammatical rules of a particular language. Mistranslations translating words into a wrong or slightly different word. Example: translating the word pencil into a word that means pen or marker. While it is still a writing utensil it technically changes what type of writing utensil is referenced. Localization translating words that do not exist in another language meaning there is no one-to-one equivalency between the two languages. Example: there is no equivalent to the words yes and no in Chinese languages. Instead, native speakers might use shi which means to be or dui which means true in place of answering yes. Inconsistencies When there are multiple words that can be used to say something, a different word might be used in different documents creating inconsistency and branding issues across documents. Example: the words funny, amusing and hilarious could each be used interchangeably to represent the same meaning.

I dont speak the language. How do I know if the translations are accurate?
Most all translation vendors claim they offer high quality translations. But how can you really be sure that you are getting the quality you expect? If you cant speak the language, then you are forced to put a lot of trust in your vendor. To feel confident that you are selecting a vendor that can deliver on the quality promise, ask questions to understand how they ensure accurate, high quality translations for their clients. Here are 10 recommended questions you can ask to help you evaluate vendors:


What is your process for evaluating and qualifying linguists? Ask your vendor to walk you through how they determine if a linguist has the proficiency to translate content between the two languages. A good vendor should have multiple steps in place to qualify linguists including evaluating their previous translation experience, training/education level and sample translations. They should also have ongoing measurement of the linguists work to make sure the linguist consistently performs well with tests and sample translations. In many cases, a professional linguist who speaks the language may not be enough. Sometimes, even though a linguist may be fluent in the language, they may not be adequate for the job. For example, if you have technical content that needs to be translated, youll want to make sure that the assigned linguists not only have fluency in the language, but they also have appropriate degrees, topic expertise and experience levels to understand your content. In these instances, youll want to find out if the vendor uses specialists for these jobs and what the extra level of qualification requirements are for these specialists.


What is your quality plan? There are multiple steps involved during the translation process which means multiple opportunities for errors to potentially slip into the content. Your vendor should work with you to map out a plan to track and manage quality throughout the entire translation process. This plan should entail details around each step of the translation workflow including: Source file submission Translation Expert review and approval Desktop publishing (when applicable) Client approval

Your vendor should create a customized quality plan that is tailored to the scope of your project, your strategy and why you are localizing. It should clearly define what the vendor is accountable for and what your organization is accountable for. Clear definition will ensure that there is no confusion on who is responsible for each piece of the quality puzzle.


What quality standards do you adhere to? The most widely used quality assurance measurement system in the language translation industry is the LISA QA Model - which is published by the Localization Industry Standards Association. This model grades translations based on a scoring system that measures the severity of issues as critical, major or minor and provides a point value for each offense. The industry norm for a passing grade is 99 percent. If your vendor uses this model, ask them what their scoring levels are for qualifying translation quality to help you determine if their standards are below, at or above the industry norm. This will help you compare their standards to other vendors. If they do not use the LISA QA Model ask them to help you understand how their quality measurement model works so you can try to do an apples to apples comparison to other vendors. Understanding what certifications your vendor has may also provide an indication of their level of commitment to quality. Organizations can demonstrate their quality through ISO certification. The guidelines for these certifications were developed by the International Organization for Standardization. The ISO certifications can help transform a vendors quality system into an effective system to meet and exceed client expectations. In order to obtain these certifications, a vendor must go through a rigorous qualification process and perform annual audits to maintain their status. To qualify for these certifications, a vendor must demonstrate to an independent thirdparty auditor that they understand client needs, meet their requirements and exceed their expectations.


What checks and balances do you have in place to ensure accuracy? Youll want to make sure that quality assurance processes are in place to ensure accuracy in your translations from the start. Quality should be taken into consideration at every step of the translation process workflow. The later that quality metrics are inserted into the process, the more time consuming and costly the process can become for your organization to address any issues that are identified. Effective quality control follows a two-pronged approach. First is the human factor having editors and reviewers perform quality checks for accuracy. Many times an organization will opt to have in-country reviewers who are native to the language and location that the content is translated for. Some organizations elect to provide their own in-country reviewers, while others will rely on vendor provided reviewers. The

value of in-country reviewers is that they can flag translations that may not be localized or may sound strange to a person in that region of the world. Second is the use of translation management technology. With an automated process, you can create an audit trail of all activity to give you visibility into areas where issues may have occurred. The system is typically user-based, therefore each individual involved in the process must identify who they are by logging in with a secured user name and password. Often, the technology can then flag and identify any updates, changes and modifications that have been made to the content throughout the entire process. Your vendor should be able to track this information through reports, metrics and analytics. The ability to identify the who, what and where of issues is critical to getting to the root cause and addressing the quality concerns. 5. How do you actually measure quality? Your vendor should look at multiple factors when evaluating accuracy and quality of translations. This may include: Accuracy: The quality of the translated text being near or true to the original source text. Spelling and grammar: The quality of adherence to standard grammatical rules of the target text for a particular language. Language: The quality of the culturally accepted and utilized meaning of words within the target text. Terminology: The vocabulary or technical terms used in a particular field, subject, science or art, within the industry and within the organization. Style: The way in which source text is translated as it related to subjective qualities such as expression and arrangement.

These factors may be graded on a score with a certain score minimum required to pass. As an added measure of scrutiny, you may want to find out if the vendor also assesses the segment change percent of translations at approver and translator level to ensure there is not a high percent change. What this looks at is the percent of changes that have been made to each segment of content. These types of measurements can also indicate if the linguists are producing accurate translations.


What is your corrective action plan? When errors are identified, it is important for your vendor to have a clear corrective action plan. Not only do you need these issues quickly resolved, you also do not want the same errors to occur on future translations. Find out if your vendor has processes defined to capture issue data and drive analysis steps to ensure that the appropriate corrective actions are applied to resolve the issues and prevent future recurrence of the same issues. How do you weed out less skilled linguists? You need to be confident that when a linguist does not perform up to required standards, your vendor will work with them to improve their skill level or stop using them altogether on projects and not just move them to another clients initiatives - as you probably dont want to inherit that linguist for your projects. Ideally, vendors use a scorecard model to evaluate content produced by individual linguists. When a less skilled linguist is identified find out if and how the vendor works with that individual to address concerns and bring them up to an acceptable level and where they draw the line for discontinuing use of a linguist. You may also want to understand how often they evaluate each linguists work. Youll want to work with a vendor that performs regular ongoing evaluation of work from all linguists - rather than just a one-time evaluation when they bring the linguist onboard.



Can we audit your process? Auditing the process allows you an inside view to see if and how things are actually getting done to ensure quality on your translations. Typically, a client audit involves visiting the vendor in person to review the translation process and the vendors quality management system. It may also include an assessment of IT capabilities and the vendors ability to keep their content secure from corruption or loss in the case of system failures, as well as minimizing system interruptions that could impact the ability to respond to your needs or meet contractual requirements. Your vendor should be willing to give you complete visibility into their inner workings. If they are opposed to having you scrutinize every step in the process you may want to be wary as they may have something to hide.


How do you help clients improve quality of translations? Producing high quality begins before the linguist even starts translating your words. A knowledgeable vendor can educate you on how your organization can help improve quality by: Avoiding high risk scenarios that may result in compromised quality. Arming linguists with resources to educate them on your company and help them understand the context of your message. Creating tools to ensure use of appropriate terminology and consistent style throughout projects. Providing consulting services to help train you in translation best practices and to help set proper expectations of what will take place during the translation process. Providing services to analyze existing translation memory so that you can address any content inaccuracies or inconsistencies. What metrics can you provide us around our translation initiatives? Knowledge is power. Having access to valuable performance metrics around your translations can help you see the big picture and spot where quality issues are occurring and improvement is needed. Find out if your vendor can provide you with standard reports and if this information can be customized to your organizations needs. The type of reports that can be valuable may include: Translation memory utilization and detail Resource utilization and throughput Cycle time detail Project detail Cost savings through translation memory reuse


When quality counts you can count on Sajan

When doing business globally, you need a reputable translation vendor that you can trust to provide high quality work, because your organizations reputation is on the line. When it comes to consistent high quality you can count on Sajan. Sajan takes the stress out of the translation process by providing superior quality with every communication you need translated in any language, for any content type. To learn about Sajans quality program, contact us at 1-877-426-9505 or visit our Website at for more information.