ANATOMY OF A STANDARD PROJECT
Professional translation and localization projects have a lot of moving parts and can be counterintuitive. Our staff are always happy to run things down for you, but here is a reference that you can use to understand how we work and what happens to your content during a normal project.
The scoping phase is fundamentally about determining what materials need to be localized to achieve your goals. In many ways this is the most important phase of a project. Because computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools import text strings and process them in a proprietary format, the scope of a project is very hard to change once production has begun. At the same time, you don't want to receive completed translations, only to realize that there were more materials to translate, or that you actually wanted to use a different word in paragraph 2. For this reason, it is important to ensure that all of the content you need for your project is ready and finalized prior to start of the project. Our staff can help you figure out what needs to be included.
The analysis phase focuses on determining how much work the project will take. This primarily consists of using CAT tools to get a precise word count that is weighted to factor in repetitions and previous translations. When CAT tools identify phrases that appear to match other phrases, either in the same document or in a client's Translation Memory (database of previous translations), they are flagged as repetitions that do not need to translated (though they sometimes do still need to be confirmed by the linguist). In turn, repetitious phrases also cost the client less because they represent less work for us. Analyzing for repetitions is the reason that we can only give rough estimates before we receive the actual source files. The analysis phase also includes assessing timelines and ancillary services like desktop publishing, in-context review, and engineering.
During the preparation stage, our support staff pull the text strings out of the source files and import them into our CAT tool before we send them out to linguists. If we run into any issues, we will bring them up right then and make sure the final product is right from the start.
Our translation stage is performed by an experienced native linguist, translating exclusively into their native tongue, and usually with some subject matter expertise in the content. We strive to use the same linguist/editor team for all work for a client.
During the editing stage, a separate linguist with native proficiency checks the output for consistency, accuracy, proper grammar and mechanics, and idiomatic eloquence. These checks also reference glossaries and style guides when possible, to ensure that the ideal output term is used precisely and consistently.
In the event that our clients have staff in the target market for this project, we can also deliver content in an intermediate, review-friendly form, so that they can gather feedback from native speakers who are familiar with both the goals of the client organization and the locale. Once the review comes back to us, we examine the feedback and implement as necessary.
Desktop publishing (DTP) is an optional stage in which our staff perform all of the layout and formatting work to match the source materials in the target language. We recommend DTP whenever the output is intended for consumption by our clients' customers. Though this step and its cost may seem unnecessary at first glance, formatting in a foriegn language is more challenging than it appears. Some languagues use many more characters to convey the same information, or longer words that make line breaks difficult. This is known as text expansion, and can require significant design work to replicate the design of the original. Many clients who elect to do the layouts themselves end up bringing the DTP work back to us in the end because it proved trickier than it seemed.
During the packaging stage, our engineers initiate a round of automated checks for terminological consistency across projects, then update the client's Translation Memory, package the files, and deliver in the original file format.
Occasionally, we undertake projects that go beyond straightforward translation/localization projects. This can take many forms, including market research, in-market focus groups, marketing campaign adaptation, and technical consultation.
Let us know if you have a complex global business problem and we'll see how we can help!