Translations are one of those things that you only really notice once they’ve gone wrong. The internet is full of jokes about bad translations, which although may be funny, are actually a very serious issue for all stakeholders. Quality Assurance (also known as QA) is one of the steps taken within the language industry to prevent translation errors.
All reputable translation agencies have some kind of translation quality assurance process in place. But for a translation buyer, knowing what’s right and what’s wrong is sometimes hard to decipher. This is why we’d like to give you our recipe for a lean and efficient quality management system.
What is a quality translation?
First and foremost, we need to have a clear idea of what quality really is. Although this may also depend on specific features of each particular project, such as industry, language pair, type of material, target audience, there are four basic elements that define quality of translation:
- Accuracy – the translated content is consistent with the source content.
- Correctness – the rules and norms of grammar, orthography, vocabulary, date/time and currency formats of the target language / country are followed.
- Consistency – the translated material lexically and stylistically consistent.
- Fluency – the translation stylistically appropriate in terms of material type, intent and the target language/audience.
It’s all about the team
Language solutions are developed by people, so all quality QA systems start with a quality team.
Having a vendor manager who can source the best translators, test them, and then help them grow into irreplaceable members of the team is just the start. Project managers need to be trained on how to put a translation team together and how to match the right translator to the right project.
Some agencies even have a dedicated Quality Manager who oversees the quality side of all the projects the agency does. They’ll normally be responsible for overseeing things should anything go wrong, too. The final piece of the puzzle has to lie with the rest of the team. This involves training sales teams to know all about the company’s processes, and ensure that management is ready to deal with quality-related issues.
One way of telling if an LSP is a reputable one is by seeing if they are certified. There are three different certifications to look up in this regard – the ISO 17100:2015 Translation Standard Certificate, international standard that establishes and defines the requirements for the provision of quality services by translation services providers, the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System certificate and the ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management System certificate.
These certifications ensure that agencies have to document things like their translator evaluation process, their quality control procedures, and all about their project management, to name a few.
Quality Assurance tools
The translation technology market is highly developed and dynamic. It not only helps us with productivity, but it also helps us with QA too. CAT tools (Computer-assisted translation tools, also known as translation productivity tools) have in-built quality checks that really help translators stamp out minor errors that might get missed. Specialized QA tools like Xbench and Verifika also provide an extra pair of eyes and really help a project manager out, especially if they don’t speak the target language. Also making sure that glossaries and translation assets (translation memories and term bases) are regularly developed, maintained and used prove a vital part of a quality QA process.