Translation and Deadlines: Handling Short Notice Requests

You have a project that requires a quick turnaround. Do you know the questions that must be asked of your translation service? Make no mistake, deadlines are as much a part of the translation industry as lexemes and verb structures. Each translation agency has their plan for short notice projects to ensure they meet deadlines. Make sure you know what they are and that everybody is on the same page, so-to-speak.

Here are 5 things you must consider or ask prior to turning over a short notice translation project.

1. You must be absolutely clear about what is expected and when. If you need a final translation by October 1, what does that mean? Does that mean that just the translation has been completed by then? Does it mean that the translation and all post-editing have been completed and the document is perfect? Does it mean that the translation portion is complete, but it still needs alignment and publication work? Does it mean that prior to the first you will have the document for review and any edits must also be accomplished prior to October 1? Whatever your expectations, be certain both parties understand what the deadline means.

If this sounds fundamental, you would be surprised to know the number of times clients have received back rush jobs only to find that the translations were substandard. The company responded that they had translated the project according to the rush deadline, but a detailed post-edit would take significantly longer and, therefore, could not be done.

2. What does your translator need in order to complete the translation? When you agree to a translation project with a tight deadline, there is a reason for the tight turnaround. You cannot afford to have delays. Even if there is a discount for a late product, or you don’t pay for it at all, the bottom line is that you didn’t have a document when you needed it. You don’t need your money back, you need your information translated on time.

The most common items that hold up translation projects include:

• Files are turned over in a mix of formats including out-of-date software files.

• Lack of original graphic files.

• Lack of copyright permissions if copyrighted material is included in the translation.

• Lack of source documents when highly technical information is borrowed.

• Lack of a prepared confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement if required.

3. Decide what is important and what is negotiable. Based on how tight the deadline is, translation companies may not be able to give you everything you would like. Some of the areas you need to consider for your negotiations include:

• Is the deadline more important than 100 percent linguistic perfection?
• Is a generic translation acceptable or do you need full localization?
• What level of computer-assisted translation are you comfortable with?

4. Do you have a translation memory you can share with the translator from a previous project? Accurate translation memories can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to perform the computer-assisted translation portions of the project. By increasing the amount of time your translation service has to edit instead of translate you have a greater chance of receiving what you want on time.

5. How do you feel about multiple translators and/or subcontracting? One of the ways that your translation service can save a vast amount of time is to divide your project up among several translators. Some companies may even be able to hire subcontractors to work on parts of the project if you approve.

One risk of multiple translators and subcontractors are the multiple styles of translation that may enter into the process in the absence of a quality translation guide. Of course, the time savings may be enough to afford an exceptional post-edit that can bring it all back together.

When time is of the essence, make sure you have open lines of communication with your translation company. By knowing what must be done, what you can compromise on, what strategies your translators have at their disposal, and what materials you must have ready, your project stands the best chance of success and timely delivery.

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