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The concept and processes of Quality Assurance in translation and localization have improved dramatically over the last decades. They have been further developed, refined and optimized by industry stakeholders on client and vendor side, and the process of refinement is still ongoing: translation software programs have emerged and are still emerging, QA standards are being implemented, numerous commercial QA tools are being marketed and sold to those who understand that high quality is key. Still, in addition to all the tools and standards, there is one historical component in the process that is still there and offers the essential added value to any QA process, the human reviewer.
We all know that the essence of good translated output is a well-written source. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume we have a translation that was based on a perfect source. We now move to the next step in the process, the review. Leaving aside the question “why we need a review in the first place, when we have a “perfect” translation, since it was based on a perfect source?” we go straight to the review step itself.
Why Do We Need In-Country Review
There are many criteria that co-define the type or depth of a review. As a rule of thumb, one could say that the higher the risk impact of a wrong translation, the more in-depth review is required. A malfunctioning vacuum-cleaner will not have the same impact as a wrong interpretation due to a bad translation of a patient’s medical-technical manual. In the latter, a mistake in instructions could potentially have fatal consequences. Therefore, the in-country review is a must.
As per the example above, the in-country subject matter expert review is mandatory for highly regulated content “to the extent possible”. This step is usually conducted after the linguistic review by a subject matter expert. The emphasis lies on the technical aspects, functioning, use and terminology of the product rather than the linguistic elements.
In-Country Review Challenges
Unfortunately, the in-country review step is not without challenges. Here are some of the most common ones:
- The ideal subject matter reviewer is the in-country expert on the client side. In most cases, these experts have other responsibilities and reviewing product content is an extra task added to their core responsibilities. It is a challenging act to balance.
- More and more “exotic” languages are required. Clients and buyers of translation services do not always have experts readily available in these countries.
- The limited availability of expert reviewers poses challenges on the overall TAT of a translation project and could endanger market release date of a client’s product.
- High turn-over among in-country reviewers of some companies, lead to longer lead times and potentially less reuse efficiencies due to differences of opinion regarding translations.
How To Improve Your In-Country Review Process
However, there are ways to ease the pain to some extent:
- Facilitate the process by providing specific proofreading guidelines and by providing validated “do-not-touch” technical glossaries. This will also be useful in cases of an instable reviewer pool.
- Come up with other ways to execute this important step, i.e. use of specialized third party in-country review companies, use of the best specialized linguists who are being offered product training to master the features and function of the product.
- Allow for reasonable time to execute a specific subject matter review task and document these pre-agreed lead times in a binding SLA, for example “up to 10k words, review time 3 working days”. When the generous deadline is not met, the project manager has the go-ahead to continue the process without any repercussions.
To summarize, in-country review does not come without challenges but it is a job that needs to be done. Even today, that we have sophisticated QA tools for project review, the in-country review by a highly qualified human subject matter expert offers a substantial contribution to the process. It will not only reflect on the overall quality of content but also on the company’s branding and reputation. Translated product documentation remains a very powerful marketing tool. It allows for deeper local market penetration thus bringing the product within reach of local end-users.
If you want to learn more about the Quality Assurance methods that Commit Global uses, contact our friendly team.