Make Third-Party Review Work for You!
(Originally published November 2010)
Have you ever had an individual, say someone within your organization, “take a quick look” at a completed translation because that person speaks the language and, truth be told, you want to be reassured by someone you know that the quality of the translation is good? Having a trusted colleague review a translation certainly has its benefits and appeal. This person is a known entity and even more important, knows your organization. A reviewer can also provide helpful insight into an organization’s preferred terminology. This type of insider information can be invaluable, particularly if your language vendor is included in this process and is part of the feedback loop.
However, be aware of the potential pitfalls of third-party review given that this task is typically not the person’s main area of responsibility or expertise. As a result, the reviewer may unwittingly: introduce errors, make unnecessary or inappropriate changes, create terminology inconsistencies, or modify what the original material says, which could cause all types of issues. These include: legal problems, negative impacts on your brand, loss of customers, misrepresentation of policies and procedures, unnecessary delays in time-to-market, disruption of other production processes, just to name a few!
So, how can you make sure that third-party review works effectively and leads to the desired outcome? Here is some information to help ensure a successful outcome when engaging in third-party review.
Choose the right person for the job. Choosing the right person is key to a successful review. The ideal reviewer should be:
• a native speaker of the target language.
• fluent in the source language, which in most cases is English.
• a subject matter expert in the content being translated.
• a good communicator and collaborator.
• an excellent writer and editor, who is attentive to detail.
• available! It is key that your reviewer has enough time to devote to this process.
Create an open line of communication. It is critical to work with all parties involved to facilitate an open line of communication among the key stakeholders within the organization, the translation vendor, and the reviewer to discuss the process and the schedule as well as answer any questions or concerns. Be sure to identify who the reviewer is early in the process and collaborate with your language vendor to agree on terminology, style preferences, and expectations regarding review before translation begins.
Establish an effective review process. Establishing an effective review process early on can help to make sure that the review is a success for all involved. Start by providing your reviewer with all the information he or she needs to be successful, which includes:
• a timeline that works for the reviewer and still fits with the overall schedule.
• all of the translated materials and all of the corresponding source materials.
• any glossaries, style guide or other reference material that the translator used to complete the translation.
Provide the reviewer with a checklist of expectations. Providing the reviewer with a checklist is an integral part of ensuring an effective review process and is a means of clarifying expectations. This checklist should ask the reviewer to:
• clearly mark the changes, so changes can be readily identified and implemented.
• stay true to the meaning of the original text.
• avoid making purely preferential changes (e.g. changing “billfold” to “wallet”).
• check the glossary and avoid changing pre-approved terminology.
• check his or her own work to correct any inconsistent changes, typos, etc.
• communicate with other reviewers to compile one set of consistent changes.
Time the review carefully. Effectively timing the review is also key to a successful outcome. This is particularly important if third-party review will impact other parts of the production process. Such instances include: when the documents will undergo additional formatting or when the translated material will be uploaded to a website. In these cases, be sure to time the review so that it occurs prior to additional production steps so that the translation quality, other production processes, the scheduling, and budget are not unnecessarily impacted. This will also prevent third-party review from being mixed with or impeding other quality control steps that should be kept separate from review, such as proofreading of formatted files or website testing.
Be sure to send the review changes to your language vendor. When the review is complete, make sure to send the changes to your language vendor to clarify reviewer preferences and ideally implement the changes as part of a final quality assurance check of the translation. Keeping an open line of communication regarding review changes can also help clear up any misperceptions on the part of the reviewer as to what is “wrong” versus what may just be a different preference or perhaps an issue with what the source material is conveying.
Planning ahead when engaging in third-party review will better ensure a successful outcome for all involved. So, start by assigning the right person to the job and setting up an effective review process with clear expectations, and you will end by getting a much higher quality translation as well as a reviewer who feels this was time well spent!