The most successful corporate translation projects are those in which all participants are satisfied with the final result. This is by no means easy and can often only be achieved in the mid-term. And one of the keys to this success is the active participation of a client reviewer, a real expert in the product and the terminology used in his local market to refer to it.
One of the main problems with corporate translation projects is that the “coordinator” – the person who places the order – is not the same as the “reviewer” – the person who will actually use the documentation. This is typical of large corporations with offices in more than one language region. The more languages that are coordinated centrally, the more relevant this issue becomes.
Although there are of course exceptions, the “coordinator” typically does not speak the target languages of the project. This means that they are incapable of judging the quality of the translation (accuracy, tone, register, technical terminology, etc.). The coordinator has no choice but to trust the supplier and hope the translation(s) generates no negative feedback. If indeed no negative feedback is received, all is well and the project has been a success. But the nightmare begins when one or more colleagues/acquaintances/distributors send a (generally fairly aggressive) e-mail telling him that the translation was terrible and that they can´t possibly approve it…
Think of how difficult it is to reach a consensus on the exact wording of marketing text (adverts, brochures, etc.) in your own language. Put five marketing people together in a meeting room and they´ll argue for hours before the whole group agrees on what the “best” marketing copy is… Now imagine trying to convert that result to a number of different languages. This process can be very smooth if the coordinator is aware of the pitfalls, but a rough ride if he is not aware of the following language-, business- and people-related issues.
To make matters worse, some coordinators (with only the best intentions in mind) send the translation to more than one reviewer per language. This is great if the two (or more) reviewers agree on their feedback, as the coordinator can now be doubly sure that the translation is correct and appropriate for the company’s needs. But experience shows that this is seldom the case; for all the reasons mentioned above, the chances that two reviewers agree on the quality of a translation are slim.
Read The Role of the Internal Reviewer Part 2 for tips that will help you avoid many of the frustrations caused in translation projects