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Designing an internal review process that works (1)

There are various key points to bear in mind when optimising your internal translation review process.

The keys to a successful translation project are knowing how to fit together the puzzle: clear requirements, effective processes, a collaborative culture and the best possible supplier. The reviewer does not always get to see these elements, and this makes confidence building and trust all-important.

Wherever possible, designate native language experts within your organisation who can review translations and provide feedback to your translation partner. Every minute spent on cultivating and enforcing this relationship will be well spent.

The reviewer’s profile
Although there are exceptions, the broad categories into which internal reviewers fall are these:

1) Country manager – the most qualified to review (combining technical knowledge and understanding of marketing criteria) but often tied up with other tasks and thus unavailable;

2) Engineer/technician – highly qualified for technical review but not for tone, register or style, and might misunderstand the original;

3) Middle level manager – most collaborative and available, but might be overzealous in his reviewing.

Another typical problem in multinationals is that reviewers do not report directly to coordinators, so they will often take their time over the review process, thereby delaying the time-to-market of the translated documents. A change of reviewer can sometimes be the best solution to frustrating hold-ups of this kind.

Scope of the review process
The first problem arises when the scope of the reviewing exercise has not been properly defined. A co-ordinator will typically pass the translation onto the reviewer with only the most minimal instructions: “Please review this translation”. Alternatively, the in-company review process will not have been clearly defined and the duties of the reviewer left unclear.

If a reviewer has lots of time on their hands they will do it thoroughly and in great detail; if not, they will skim or review only the first few paragraphs/pages of the document. Assuming they have enough time, they will probably go into too much detail and, more importantly, review aspects of the document they should not be reviewing, which creates unnecessary, time-wasting electronic debates.

Accuracy of the translation
Most people accept that translators should be native speakers of the target language, and most LSPs stick to this rule whenever possible. This does mean, however, that nuances (and sometimes even whole messages) can be misunderstood in the translation process, and a typical, client-based reviewer will not spot this (potentially harmful) type of error.

Technical terminology
This is the main aspect reviewers should concentrate on. Ideally, a reviewer should be chosen on the basis of their technical knowledge of the product and/or market, so their opinion here is of the utmost importance.


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