Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hiring Translation Services and Due Diligence

As a translation services manager on the client side you are probably aware of the many questions you should ask when hiring translation services companies. Your department is centralized with linguists and project managers specialized in the area. But often, especially in many smaller companies, employees are tasked with sub-contracting large translations under the assumption that their task should be simple thus ignoring due diligence and causing mayhem.
Typical problems often ignored include differing file formats requiring different engineering tasks and ensuing costs. On the linguistic side there are many considerations to be taken into account to ensure quality such as the volume and deadline, the translation agency quality procedures and the flavor of the language into which the document is being translated.

The following is a series of questions and answers to consider when outsourcing your translation services needs:

1. What is the source language and target of the document? One must bear in mind that certain language combinations are harder to come by than others which has a bearing on availability and cost. Translating from English to French is a much easier outsourcing process than from Zulu to French.

2. What is the flavor of the target language? For instance a French translator from Paris translating into Algerian French can lead to a lot of quality issues.

3. What is the reason for the translation? For instance in the case of a legal translation, does the translation need to be sworn or certified.


4. What is the standard required for the translation? Will it be published and be the corporate face of the company or is it just for internal purposes only?


5. Is there a particular style of the translation? For instance does it have to adhere to an in-house style guide? Are there particular terms for the translation to adhere to? Perhaps the layout has to adhere to a particular in-house style?

6. What is the field of translation? Is it a legal, business or medical translation? In this case ensure the translator has the relevant experience translating in this particular field, ask the agency for a translator profile.

7. Check and see if you can provide the translation services company reference material such as previous translations, glossaries etc.

8. What format is the document in? Depending on the format there maybe additional engineering costs for the target language. Do you have the capacity to do these tasks in-house or is it more cost beneficial and realistic to outsource these tasks? Ask for a quote and ensure that you understand the additional engineering costs that are involved and decide from there. If you have done your homework in advance you will often get a feel for the level of professionalism and expertise that the client has.

9. Be aware of the translation metrics involved in translation and it’s engineering tasks. If your deadline is too soon you may have to realize that this will have an effect on quality and consistency

10. Will you have to send updates of the files after the agency has started translating? Has there been a system devised to cope with these updates between you and the client. Are you prepared for an elevated translation quote due to the updates and advised your boss?

11. Do you require Translation Memory technology to be used by the vendor? Are their Translation memory rates as competitive as other vendors? Shop around and get other translation quotes.


12. It often helps to proofread the source text before being sent to translation. This avoids updates and poorly written texts which lead to poor translations

13. Is copyright to be retained or transferred?

14. What are the payment terms?

15. Is there a set of business terms and conditions?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Translation Memory Demonstration - One Stop Shop Translations

video

Monday, October 27, 2008

Choosing a Translation Services company or Machine Translation

As we are all aware the translation industry is awash with translation tools such Spell checkers, translation memories and automated glossaries. But is the feasibility of machine translation a reality in this day and age. By explaining the doubts and limitations of machine translation I hope to clarify to clarify some of the preconceived notions that the general public may have about the field and aid them in deciding on Machine translation or a translation services company.

The notion of computer translation is not new. In fact shortly after World War II the American Government had already began investing considerable resources in the field without the slightest doubt that the concept was not a reality.Some common terms in this field indicate the some of the difficulties that those pioneers of machine translation were to encounter, for example the difference between machine translation which is the translation of text by a machine and Computer Aided translation which is the translation of texts by a translator with the aid of translation tools. Under Machine translation there are three types of system namely Batch, Interactive, and Interlingual Approaches. A Batch method has coded rules to `decide' on the best translation. There is no need for a translator.

With an Interactive system the translator is present and decides on the translation options provided by the translation system.

With an Interlingual approach the source translation is translated to an intermediate language that is used to translate back and forth between the source and target languages.CAT and MT software these days use either the Batch or interlingual approach.

With MT translation most texts tend to have a 70% accuracy e.g Google translate. Most experts now concede that 100% accuracy is not possible. Three terms that crop up are Fully automatic High Quality Translation which is in my view is impossible to achieve, Fully Automatic Low Quality Translation and Partly Automatic Medium Quality Translation. The percentage accuracy claims of Machine translation is open to debate as there is no universal standard to measure this and accuracy claims tend to be very subjective.

When to use Machine Translation over Translation Services companies. There are five important criteria when choosing whether to use machine translation over translation Service companies.

1. Subject matter. Here the computer can have an immense advantage especially in regard to technical texts. In the case of a field like Life sciences where the vocabulary is very specific, the Machine Translation system can have a terminology Database built up over years which is impossible for a Translation Service company to compete with. Of course the quality depends on the amount of work and quality of the work put into the Machine translation’s dictionary.

2. Speed. Speed is an area where the computer reigns supreme considering that the average translator translates at a rate of 2,500 words per day.

3. Level of accuracy. We already discussed the levels of accuracy. If a text is solely for information then a fully automated translation is feasible but if we need 100% accurate translation the amount of time spent post-editing the MT system can often outweigh the benefits of using this system.

4. Consistency of vocabulary. Again the computer is excellent when it comes to consistency. One centralized MT system ensures consistency as opposed to a Translation vendor outsourcing a large job or different jobs over time to different translators. It is often the case that no two translators translate a sentence in the same way. Of course, the success of the MT depends on the preprogramming done beforehand.

5. Cost. Bearing in mind that the computer can tick all the right boxes for speed, consistency, level of accuracy and subject matter one has to bear in mind that successful Machine translation systems require substantial investment to populate them with high quality and a high volume of content which, of course, has to be passed onto to the client of a Translation Services company.

It’s pretty evident from the above points that the computer can yield impressive results but what we must realize is that current MT systems will not give 100% accurate translations. If this level of accuracy is required it’s always best to hire the services of a translation company.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Choosing A Translation Services Company

I am often surprised to hear that Localization managers are not happy with the level of service they are receiving from their translation vendors. Frequent complaints about missed deadlines, poor linguistic quality and unresponsive project managers seem to be the norm. Then when I ask about their prices I wonder why they wish to stay with the same translation services company when receiving such a bad level of service. To add insult to injury when the words Translation memories or translation savings are mentioned they seem unaware of the idea. Similarly with Managers complaining of prolonged schedules the same question springs to mind, “Why stick to the same vendor with such a poor level of service”.

The main reason why these Managers are reluctant to change is the risk involved which outweighs the unknown reward. To lower this risk and have visibility of the partial benefits of two or multiple vendors why not protect your Translation assets thus ensuring full independence when out-sourcing. While maybe being a little more labor intensive the multiple vendor model keeps current vendors more competitive and allows you to easily draw comparisons on the level of service you are receiving. How can you possibly tell how fast your vendor is, the competitiveness of their translation prices and the efficiency of their processes with a single vendor model?

Implementing the multiple-vendor model?

The first thing to do is to request your Translation memories. At One Stop Shop we acknowledge the importance of our clients requesting Translation Memory imports to protect their intellectual property while at the same are not worried about entering the competitive vendor model because of the confidence we have in the level of our service.
Remember you have every right to your TMs as it is your intellectual property.

1. Phase in alternative Vendors.
Ask One Stop Shop Translations for a quote here and your current vendor for a quote. If you have supplied us the TMs you will have a direct comparison of the price per word rates and the savings from using the TM. If the TMs are not supplied at least you will have a comparison of the translation rates which will not let you down. You, you will have clear visibility on additional services you are being charged for e.g. Project Management

2. Hire One Stop Shop Translations on a test project
This is a good way to measure our quality and customer service.

3. Phase in more projects to One Stop Shop Translations
Provided you are happy of course phase in more work to your second vendor.

Quality, Turnaround and Cost
All vendors profess a quick turn around, high quality and unbeatable prices so at least now with the multiple vendor model you can draw your own comparisons. It may be helpful to keep a checklist or post-project feedback form to collate all criteria scores over a period of time. Apart from the quality, price and turnaround other effective criteria that may be selected are responsiveness, relationship, due diligence, reporting and technology.
One Stop Shop Translations can help you draw up these checklists free of charge and help you phase in a higher level of translation services.
With regard to quality you may not have the luxury of your country reviewers to judge this but there are other methods which One Stop Shop Translations can guide you through. Extensive quality criteria are always recommended.
With regard to cost, apart from having lower rates One Stop Shop Translations have no hidden costs with regard to the pre-project quote, that’s right, no Project Management costs, no update costs within reason. Due to our due diligence One Stop will negotiate any grey areas of the project at the Quote stage, still remain competitive and avoid any nasty surprises for the client with the invoice.
At all stages the client has to right to the analysis files (Trados, Catalyst, FrameMaker etc.) and will receive a clear explanation if there are still in the dark.

Choosing One Stop Shop Translations
While there are many translation services companies to choose from, we will distinguish ourselves from the competition by our friendly and highly qualified people, free consultancy and Project Management services and our expertise in your industry. We would love the opportunity to demonstrate these things to you and describe how we've been able to help other clients in your position make a change for the better. To schedule a discussion with One Stop Shop Translations, please call +34–91-365-9608.

Mark Kieran,
Director,
One Stop Shop Translations S.L.
mark.kieran@onestopshoptranslations.com
(Madrid) 0034 91 365 9608

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Stop Shop Translations

Professional Translation Services
All your translation services in One Stop. With over 5,000 specialist translators based world wide we're in a ideal position to translate any type of text whether it's Science, Legal, Business, Marketing, or any other field One Stop Shop Translations uses only native translators for each target language. All translation projects go through a cycle of translation and revision. With over thirty years experience we cater for up to 140 languages.

Translation Company Profile
One Stop Shop Translations was founded by three seasoned localization professionals striving to make their own mark on the industry. Drawing on a rich background of Localization Project Management skills, engineering skills and linguistic skills the three have ambitions to make One Stop the largest vendor in the business by the year 2018.

Mark Kieran,
Director,
One Stop Shop Translations S.L.
mark.kieran@onestopshoptranslations.com
Translation Sercices
(Madrid) 0034 91 365 9608