Quality in the Race for Time!

Tight deadlines? No problem!


Tight Deadlines … rush fee… quick TAT! As translators, aren’t we all familiar with these friendly foes? Yes, it’s a challenge and yes, it may mean making that extra buck, but boy is it also a hectic, ‘I might just pull all my hair out’ experience. Quite a few of our fellows have had quite enough of it. As voiced out recently, there was a lot of hue and cry about the ultra big Japanese to English translation project that was handed out as a consequence of a merger between Applied Materials & Tokyo Electron. The fact that the order was for 30 million words of translation with a TAT of three weeks was frowned upon by many. Quick TAT = Poor quality = Disaster, was the general verdict. But is that really so?

We don’t think so! Having handled quite a few projects with large volumes, we can confidently say that Quality need not be sacrificed in the pursuit of deadlines. “They are much like other jobs actually. Granted, we had to put in a lot of extra hours, a lot of in-house checking to ensure nothing was missed, but all in all it wasn’t that bad at all ” says our Project Manager, Clare when talking about one of these ‘infamous’ jobs. Clearly, she isn’t fazed by big numbers or tight TATs. Let’s talk about why.

First of all, why is a tight deadline so frowned upon?

  • Just because you pay a rush fee*, it doesn’t mean that a translator gets another set of arms! He can only do what he can do. If 2000 words per day is his work capacity, that’s what he can effectively accomplish. If he pushes himself much more than that, there are prone to be errors.
    • *A rush fee isn’t paid to get linguists to miraculously start spewing out words in double speed! The rush fee is for the following reasons.
      • To compensate for time spent over holidays.
      • To allow for retainer fees; when huge rolling volumes are expected and the linguist has to be on call as soon as they arrive.
      • To cover expenses of allocating a dedicated PM for the task.
  • The Editing/proofreading stage is generally skipped owing to the time constraints. So mistranslations, omissions, inconsistencies, punctuations and so on, which need to be detected and weeded out in this stage, are left behind.

How is this addressed?

  • It is best not to push a linguist beyond his capacity. Agencies generally have the capacity to distribute the job with other linguists. But doesn’t this spell consistency disaster? No it needn’t. Setting up a good Translation Memory and glossaries, and automating QA checks can eliminate inconsistencies to a large extent.
  • The QA process is imperative in these projects. Our Project Managers are dedicated to doing all they can to ensure that the mechanical aspects of the translation are thoroughly checked and rectified. A meticulous Visual Check roots out punctuation errors, and obvious omissions. Where the target language is known to at least one of the PMs, as in the case of the Japanese to English project, a more thorough Quality Check for grammar, spelling errors etc. is carried out. With files coming in on a rolling basis, the PMs are able to get in the time to perform these checks before the files go out to the client.

Simpson Soft loves a challenge! Looking for ways to offer value to our customers in terms of quality is an obsession with us and these projects present the perfect opportunity; so yes, we love them. Do you? Tell us what you think.