The Collaboration Factor: Achieving Great Results

When a translation company is faced with a large-scale project, that’s when the skills of its translation team are put to the test. Large projects involve multiple challenges because they require the commitment and collaboration of people whose responsibilities and work styles may differ considerably. The account executive must make sure to keep a fluid channel of communication with the client at all times so as to ensure compliance with the deadlines as well as with the delivery conditions. Of course, prior to all this, the account manager must have reached a quote agreement with the customer, i.e., he or she must have closed the sale of the project. Once the sale is made, so to speak, that’s when the process starts, as our friend Sven told us in a recent blog entry. The intention of this particular post is to further illustrate the importance of the interaction between the different parties involved in a project.

The project coordinator, or project manager, will next have to recruit the team of language professionals that best fits the job requirements. If the material consists of manuals on construction-related trades, for example, the PM will not choose the same translators that might work on the localization of a video game or on the sworn translation of legal documents. In addition to selecting the team, the project manager must, obviously, organize the tasks, distribute the material, communicate the customer’s preferences or specific project requirements, coordinate the use of translation memories and terminology databases and, if necessary, help draft a style guide specific to the project. It’s clear that in order to successfully accomplish all these tasks (often with very tight deadlines), the project manager must really know her “trade” and be able to multitask.

By the time the translators begin their part of the project, they already know the type of material they’ll be working on, the size (in number of words) of their assigned load, the deadline (day and time) by which they have to deliver their production and the specific instructions they need to follow. In addition to their linguistic knowledge and depending on the specific case, the translators might work using a client’s translation memory, an appropriate terminology database and/or a style guide, all of which are tools that will enable them to work with uniform translation and format criteria.

These tools are very useful in any project, but they are even more relevant when it comes to big projects, since the editor saves a lot of time when it comes to consolidating the production of different translators. The edition of each project has its particular linguistic challenges, but if there is something they all have in common is the need to be accurate and consistent in the decisions that define the terminology, style and even the spelling rules of a translation. For the editor, the task of achieving this overall consistency in a project is as important as the detailed analysis of the text to arrive at the best possible translation. Finally, the person assigned to the proofreading step, i.e., the re-reading of the entire project, must ensure that all previous steps have been completed successfully.

In this complex sequence of selling, managing, translating, editing and proofreading a project, it is essential to have a thorough quality-control process in place that will guarantee the greatest attention to detail. As we saw, from the first moment of contact between the translation agency and the client until the moment the project is finally delivered, there are many people involved. Each one of them has different tasks, participates in different instances and does his or her job based on different perspectives; hence, communication among all these players must be excellent for the sake of the end result. As it’s most often the case, being able to resort to work teams as well-oiled as those at Trusted Translations is critical to the success of a project.