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A Cornerstone of Translation Quality: Getting In-Country Review Right (Part I)

By: Klaus Fleischmann, Managing Director

12 December 2013

Part I: The Challenges of In-Country Review

"Challenging, yet important" – that is usually the common denominator of most opinions in the translation industry on “In-Country -Review” (ICR). Only some voices tend to define ICR as “prolonging projects unnecessarily,” but even they suggest at least simple guidelines for setting up a working review routine.

In short, in-country-reviewers ensure that correct terms, expressions, and phrases are used, and that the content is applicable and technically correct for the target market. ICR is an optional process according to EN15038, but it is quite common, depending of course on the industry and the way the end-client is positioned internationally. The process does, however, pose a number of challenges in the daily routine of a working “industrial-grade” translation process:

  • Reviewers rarely use what we consider “normal” translation software, requiring the translation to be processed and converted to another format and back, sometimes more than once.
  • The reviewers’ changes usually have to be entered into the translated file manually. This essentially amounts to a second processing phase, necessitating an additional round of review.
  • In-country reviewers often have no access to terminology or translation memory systems, so they do not follow previously established standards. Reviewers who contradict standardized terminology pose a serious problem to the smooth running of the entire translation ecosystem. Rather, reviewers should have a way to access and provide feedback to the central terminology resources.
  • Particularly, for marketing texts, reviewers typically want a layout copy to work with. This is difficult with traditional toolsets and has led several software providers to come up with creative solutions to provide a web-based review with web-based in-layout editing features. The problem with most of these solutions is that the review is done in the target language with no feedback loop into the translation production chain, such as TM updates. It gets even trickier if the review goes more into the direction of transcreation and starts deviating from the source text´s meaning. In these cases, reviewed content has to be marked “for document only” and should not be included in the TM update.
  • Project managers (PMs) need to keep track of who made the last changes - where and when, and whether everything has been cross-checked and cleared. To support PMs with this task, review tools need to indicate clearly where the last change was made (on translator or reviewer side) and which segments have been approved and which ones have not.
  • Another critical issue with in-country reviews is that more often than not, reviewers are not actually professional linguists or do not even have the task “review” in their job descriptions. Often, they are engineers, sales people or even managers of a local subsidiary who do the reviews at night, at home or simply delegate it to someone else. This practice does not actually contribute to a higher translation quality. Instead, it often makes the target text worse than it was before. And frequently review processes make it quite hard for a service provider to stick to the initial time frame of a project, because they end up managing client expectations versus reviewers' timeframes.
  • We have noticed that reviewer comments are sometimes even considered as a mere nuisance by the translation production chain. However, we strongly believe we should rethink this attitude and try to obtain important information about the translators, the markets and the “psychology” of the reviewers themselves! Consider A-B-testing to try to find out which style or approach works better in what market. Consider implementing a quality metric, if possible automatically taking the reviewer corrections and error-type indications to produce key performance indicators. Most good review tools can do this.

How can these challenges be overcome?  Find out in Part II of "A Cornerstone of Translation Quality: Getting In-Country Review Right," where Klaus offers ten tips for a successful in-country-review process.

Klaus Fleischmann is the managing director of Kaleidoscope Communications Solutions Gmbh. Headquartered in Maria Enzersdorf, Austria, Kaleidoscope provides software solutions that connect all kind of different translation worlds: www.globalReview.at for web-based in-country review, www.quickTerm.at for terminology workflow & life-cycle-management, and www.smartQuery.at for query management  


NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of GALA.  

Klaus Fleischmann

Klaus grew up with languages and computers in Austria and the US. He studied conference interpreting in Vienna and Monterey, California, and technical communication at Danube University Krems. After spending many years gaining experience in the US translation industry, Klaus founded Kaleidoscope as a consulting and software company for international documentation in 1996. Since 2000, Klaus is also CEO of eurocom Translation Services in Vienna, Austria. And since 2015, Klaus proudly serves on the GALA Board of Directors. Klaus regularly presents lectures and university courses on terminology, translation management and global content strategies in Austria and abroad. Follow Klaus on @klauskaleidos.