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Friday, November 23, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Can a QA procedure fix cheap and shoddy work?

One of the hardest nuts to crack for any localization company is to recruit qualified and reliable linguistic resources. In the past, this was difficult enough and a plethora of tests and evaluation procedures were developed to try to sort out the good from the bad. 
This testing and selection process is difficult to refine, time consuming, and of course, costly for every company in need of the resources. The company must be able to boast to translation buyers, and make them believe, that they really do have the best and most suitable teams available for whatever subject matter that would fill the needs of their customers.

But do they really have the "best qualified and most suitable" people on the job? Given that the client expects and is promised to receive a high quality result, it is usually the case that the work is handed off to the lowest price resource that will accept the task. 

Is it any wonder then that we also see that clients are demanding some sort of QA standards be employed to show up any deficiencies in the deliverables at the end of the project? But how exactly does a set of standards or a QA process actually improve the quality of translation work that is performed by unqualified freelancers?

Admerix has trained teams of proven talented translation professionals. We don't need to continuously scour the internet looking for someone to take the work and then just hope and pray for a good result.

We know what we can expect, and we consistently deliver quality results to our customers and we don't get complaints.

How is this achieved?

The answer is simple. Stick to basic, proven, logical, workable, industry standard processes. We never try win a project on price (recipe for disaster) and we don't have to continuously trial new people and, after they pass the test, try to crunch down the price.

Our teams have been working with us for years, work exclusively for our company, and are only retained on our team by the delivery of consistently high quality work. But it is not cheap, and it is not done on crash schedules. 

When you want a professional translation or localization result, you must simply follow the process of applying proven industry standards, using only professional teams, overseeing the project by veteran project managers, and paying a fair price. 

Cheap and shoddy work will always be cheap and shoddy no matter what you try to do to it after it is completed.

Get it done right by starting right, processing right, allowing the right time frame, and paying the right price - or put more simply: the input will determine the outcome.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Here's Some Localization: Ikea's Saudi Arabia catalog erases women; company expresses regret

Yikes! Here's some localization: Ikea's Saudi Arabia catalog erases women; company expresses regret
...In one instance, a pajama-clad woman — shown standing at a bathroom sink along with a man, young boy and toddler nearby — was erased from the catalog distributed in the Arab nation, leaving just the three other people in the picture...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How should you treat a rush job or other crazy request from a client?

We know clients want quick work, but at the end of the day they won't accept anything less than perfect quality--no matter what they say at the hand off of the job when they just want to get it assigned.

I know everyone wants to win a project no matter what. And if you try to explain to the client what is really possible and what is not, you still risk losing the work to the many vendors who will say "yes" no matter what.

These are the aggressive vendors, both in India and China, who will take any project, whether they can really do it or not, on the hope that getting a job is the main thing and they will likely get some payment even if they can't come through 100%. This is the idea that obtaining some money now is more desirable than having an on-going relationship with a client.

However a more mature view is that you should not just be jumping through hoops for a client who wants something crazy--you need to be educating them on what is and what is not possible. This means telling them they are making a mistake by demanding the ridiculous and impossible.

(It should be noted that localization, for all the pretension our industry gives it, is simply "translation" in most companies and considered a little more than a back office administrative task. This mean the drones who are interfacing with you in handling the project have little power to do anything other than try to fulfill the insane demands their bosses made of them concerning the localization work. This means to make you pitch to change the way clients do things, you have to deal with those higher up in the chain of command who really can make the change.)

So when you get these rush requests, the only way to go is to ignore the client's wishes and quote the right time and price for what is really possible and they can take it or leave it.

Anything else risks a bad result that hurts your relationship.

In all my years in localization, I have been in too many staff meetings and spent too much time trying to figure out how to do stupid things for a client that just won't work and will mean disaster later on for the relationship.

The time should be spent on educating the client and making sure they know that the way they have decided on doing things will lead to disaster and all of them getting fired for botching the job.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Admerix in full force during August!

As a reminder, Admerix localization teams remain hard at work during August.

The Eurozone cultural convention of month-long holidays around this time of year usually causes a dearth of localization resources, but not at Admerix.

Here's our post from last year that says it all: We are here in August!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Where are the all fake translator resumes coming from?

We have reported on this blog in the past about scammers sending what look like genuine resumes to translation companies. These resumes all have one thing in common... they are fake.

Worse than just being an annoyance, they are dangerous for translation companies to ever respond to. The danger is that these scammers are only interested in receiving genuine documentation from established and respected LSPs so that they steal that LSP's identity and get real translators working for them.

The end result is always that the translator never gets paid and then mount a campaign against the company that they believe they were working for to try to receive compensation. Such campaigns when conducted on translator forums and websites can have a serious impact on the reputation of the targeted LSP.

Clearly the process of recruitment of experienced professional linguists has become not only more complicated, it is now even a very risky part of the business. These scammers are causing big problems for the industry as a whole.

But who is interested in investing time in tracking the offenders down? The answer is that no one will because it is almost impossible (not to mention expensive) to get any kind of redress! These scammers are on a free run and they know it. The issue also is impacting on the hard working freelancers who wish to try to promote themselves and widen their client base. 

The only defense seems to be to the same as for any unsolicited email that comes in - delete it immediately and get on with your day. But if you are a resources manager and under pressure to recruit more linguists to expand your existing pool of talent, how to then proceed? The answer is to find a competent, established language supplier who offers economical rates and provides turnkey solutions for localization projects.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Should You Start Translating for Free? Or Even Pay for the Privilege?

Linguists are being squeezed more than ever these days, even to the point of translating for free for the good of the "cloud."

Now Lionbridge takes it to a new level--you pay them to be able to bid on project of a certain number of words. It's GeoWorkz Marketplace and there are varying licenses based on the number of words you want to translate.

It may be that it is hard to tout this system properly as the concept is so counter-intuitive. One of the bizarre selling points of this license is that there is "zero maintenance and upgrade costs, and the ability to pay as you go."

From a business perspective, it could be one of those ideas that needs to be tried every once in awhile. You take a given--you have to pay people for their labor--and posit "what would happen if the opposite were true? What if we make individuals pay up front for an opportunity to provide labor to us?"

After all, the industry is trying to move professional linguists to give away work in a "cloud" for free (or close too it). It is a small step to then see if they can make linguists pay up front to provide translation.

All this came to mind when we found this great article: 7 Reasons Why I Can’t Do “Free”

It makes a number of good points and should cheer linguists who see their livelihoods slipping away as cash-strapped localization companies move to various cloud systems.

We never understood why any end client with critical projects would want a "global crowdsource" working on their critical marketing, legal, and technical documentation.

But apparently they do. Many localization companies tout their crowd-sourcing right on their websites.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is a system better than a project manager?

Back in the old days, trained and experienced localization project managers were considered an essential for any translation and localization company.

 The request email would be received either directly by the PM, or routed to the most suitable and available PM immediately upon receipt. The PM would then personally respond to the request within an hour or so with practical and useful feedback on the request, query, or hand off of project files. “Received and project is in progress.... “ “Received your RFQ and files are being evaluated now, and your quote will be sent later today... “ were the two most typical responses given. Clients smile, sales team go off to celebrate the sale, production team got busy with file analysis and production scheduling.

Well, that is how it used to happen. Now, since we finally got rid of those expensive project managers who have the nasty habit of slowing down the start of the project by asking questions to cover ambiguous deliverable requirements or pointing out how a project was likely to run off the requested delivery schedule promised by the company salesperson.

These days, anyone in the office (maybe the receptionist) handles client queries by simply logging them into a “project management automated system.” 

The new process looks like the scenario below when a client RFQ or hand off is received:

First response (automated): "Thanks again for your email. Our traffic manager has logged it in for attention. The first available qualified staff member for customer contacts will be in touch with you shortly. With our full monitoring processes for total quality control and assurance, we will have a response drafted within 24 hours, which is then posted on to our database system. It is then in the queue for checking for language usage, correct grammar and intonation, and suitable terminology that we are sure that you will be looking for with our professional attention to detail. Thank you for your patience and be assured that your request/query/project is being fully checked by our propriety flight checker application"

Within just another few short days, a “project coordinator” sends out a response that has attached automated word count spreadsheets, QA report spreadsheets on the source files, TM analysis log files, and a message that gives a bottom line dollar figure and delivery time.

All of this is thought to impress the client, even if no one at their end can actually understand any of it. 

The translation buyer simply wants to get their text translated to one or many languages, accomplish that with reasonably good quality and at a reasonable price that they can fit in their budget, and finally, within a reasonable time frame.

If they get a response from a real person who clearly knows what he is talking about and offers these goals for their project, surely everyone in the process will be satisfied (except perhaps the sellers of the “systems” who assure us that they will eliminate much of our costs and make our work faster and easier – oh yeah?)

Admerix is one company who still lives in the real world. We believe that it is essential to have trained and experienced industry veteran project managers overseeing every project from inception to final delivery. Critical errors are avoided, time is saved in every step, alternatives are applied should things look like not going to plan, and the end client is kept in the loop with reasonable and rational explanations of each step.

Automated systems cannot help me when I call up the bank with an account inquiry--I need a real person who is experienced with the banking system and how to handle my problem.

In the translation and localization business, it is even more critical for customers to deal with industry veteran people, and not a “system” no matter how smart we are told that system has been made.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why the Craving for Standards?

Again we are seeing Gala, now a major localization industry body, driving ahead with the process of overlaying the production process with more and ever more steps to "ensure" quality. They have announced that they are "rolling out several important projects" and are pleading for industry professionals to "reap the benefits through volunteer participation". At the end of this great show of how valuable their input is going to be, there is then the begging for money to allow them to continue with even more of this bureaucratic nonsense that actually never has an ending.

Given that we who live in the real world of producing quality translations for our customers already have excellent processes at hand to check files and ensure that what we are delivering to our customers is up to the required standard, it seems hard to understand why there would be the need for all the additional time and effort to be applied. However, there does seem to be a mindset that without going through these "important" standards steps on top of the real world business of getting the work done on time, we cannot be assured of the quality of the deliverables.

Having been in the industry for many years and running teams of project managers and legions of in-house and freelance linguists, we do have a view of why some projects finish with great quality, and why some projects end up with poor quality. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the "tools" that were applied to the work after the translation was completed!

The formula that is proven to work is simply to only have people involved in the project who actually know what they are doing and get on with the business of doing it carefully, responsibly, and with a single objective of delivering work that is up to a high standard from the outset. Our experience is that professional linguists take great pride in their work. They carefully check source texts and will refuse to take a project if they realize that it is outside the scope of their expertise. Trained project managers know how to select only those translators and editors who have the background and subject specialty required to competently carry out the work. They can often foresee problems in a given task and set in place solutions long before such problems are able to impact the production process.

Right now though, these two essential components, experienced and professional linguists and trained veteran project managers, are being viewed as expensive and dispensable appendages to the industry. The thrust is to develop sophisticated (and expensive) software packages that are claiming to make it all happen and can be placed in the hands of any junior admin staff who knows how to turn a computer on.

Translation and localization was and is a "people" business. The pressure on for LSPs to deliver more and more for less and less and this is causing garbage to infect even quality work that was done in the past. By using the cheapest available resources and let it be directed by project managers who were shop assistants last week, the only assurance that they can have it that they will always be looking for ways to improve the quality of the finished product that they used to have a few years ago.

Quality does not come from a “system” that can only ever handle commodities. Quality results come from competent management and the application of talent, experience, expertise, and an understanding of what is actually needed in each of the myriad of different project challenges that are faced every day by the localization industry personnel.

When it comes to the quest for quality, we at Admerix look for quality in the people who are handling every aspect of the work and find that this approach works very nicely!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Replacing Translators with Clouds of Amateurs

"Translation in the cloud" is another process that seems to be infecting the perception of translation in the minds of translation buyers. The concept seems to be that you just throw a document to the cloud and there it will be machine translated and then lots of translators are sitting “out there” waiting to proofread the result without charge or for minimal amounts of payment. It relies on the controversial notion that speakers of two languages are also natural translators.

However, professional translators are not sitting “out there” or anywhere else, just waiting to do work for free or for peanuts. Generally, if they are professional, they will refuse to work on MT output because they will not put their name and reputation at risk for the inevitable substandard results. That will leave cloud translation to hobbyists and amateurs, and the results of that certainly are predictable.

Nothing replaces a competent translator and editor team working with quality tools and an experienced, professional Localization Industry Project Manager (remember those people?) to coordinate the various process and keep the projects on track and compliant with QA guidelines and client instructions.

Nothing has replaced the industry standards for processes that generate quality translations in a reasonable time frame, and those companies who stick to such tried and proven industry standards will be the ones who succeed in maintaining a satisfied and loyal customer base.

At the end of the day, all the client wants is a quality translation of his documentation, software, website, etc. at a reasonable price and in a reasonable time frame.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why Computers Still Can’t Translate Languages Automatically

Why Computers Still Can’t Translate Languages Automatically - Slate, May 11, 2012
...The difficulty of knowing if a translation is good is not just a technical one: It’s fundamental. The only durable way to judge the faith of a translation is to decide if meaning was conveyed. If you have an algorithm that can make that judgment, you’ve solved a very hard problem indeed...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We all hate Trados, but...

As a supplier of translations to the translation industry, we are recently seeing a bewildering array of new translation packages being adopted by major LSPs.
Just to date this year, we have seen major companies moving to, and insisting on, one of the following: Wordfast, MemoQ, XTM, Catalyst, WorldServer.
Some companies have even gone further to completely reinvent the wheel by setting up their very own CAT tool with the view that their resource pool will be happy to learn their quirky and impractical system and translate online.
We all love to hate Trados, that is true. Many companies are trying to use Trados Studio 2009 and are not exactly delighted with the results, even after exhausting efforts to learn and implement its new features. Relying on a tool like Trados, that is created by and owned by a giant LSP that would like to take away all your clients, has always been irritating, but Trados has long been the industry standard and linguists have invested heavily in it.
At Admerix, some time ago we moved to using Trados 2007 in both WorkBench and TagEditor and all of our teams are equipped with this package, familiar and comfortable with its use, and the results are predictable and reliable. A quick perusal on any of the translator forums will testify that this is true, and while some translators do like other packages such as DejaVu they have to perform all sorts of file conversion tricks if they are going to serve more than a very few customers. Generally you can be very confident that if you ask a translator for a translation using Trados 2007 you will have no problem and the project will run smoothly.
What could it possibly be that is motivating the management of many LSPs to try to make expensive and time-consuming transitions away from Trados--especially after so many linguists have spent the time and money to be proficient in it?
The only answer that we can suggest is that such companies are desperately trying to retain a market share when new dominant technologies threaten to change the localization landscape. They inevitably turn away from good people (e.g. hire novice project managers and insist on the very cheapest translators) and towards some magical technological process fix.
The hope that “technology will save our company” has been dealt with on this blog in the past (in fact it was our very first post). Despite what management thinks, technology will not carve out a niche for both customers and a select pool of resources.
Our prediction is this process will spawn dissatisfied customers and make the vendor manager’s job practically impossible. Turnaround times will increase due to all kinds of technical glitches and slowdowns due to translators not being able to mesh with the new systems.
It also will limit the choice of translators who can be available for projects. This becomes a major problem when there is a need for specialist translator and editor teams. Also, and very importantly, scalability is limited when confined to such systems.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are You The Customer You'd Want To Have?

EVERY department of localization companies--production, sales, management--should be required to read this article: Are You The Customer You'd Want To Have?

...Entitlement trumps respect, impatience trumps appreciation, rudeness trumps understanding and greed trumps civility. Who has time to be a good customer? Just fix it for me. Just bring it to me. Just do what I say. I’m a very busy man and I haven’t got all day. I am the customer, and you are here to serve me...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Stop Attending Localization Conferences!

We have long thought localization conferences were places where people spend time lining up their next job or where localization CEOs try to put together "strategic partnerships" with other companies to create the illusion they are increasing sales.

So we were particularly interested in the wisdom in this article: So Many Conferences, So Little Return : ...Am I actually growing my business, or just satisfying my bottomless need for validation and approval? Am I actually delivering value to others, or just sitting in a corner trying to perfect myself? Am I actually connecting with my peers, or just playing dress up for the wrong audience? Am I actually part of a community, or just feeding into another ballwashing circlejerk of mutual glorification?...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Do You Hate Localization?

From our interaction in the industry, we can detect just how many localization production people seem to hate their jobs. The pressures are too great and project managers are rarely hired for their experience any more. Instead, they are always young college students or recent graduates hired for peanuts (or even interns). This leads to client dissatisfaction and sales dissatisfaction with production.

We stumbled across this article today: 10 Secrets to Being a Millionaire. It that has a lot to say about enjoying what you do. If you "hate localization" at the moment, maybe you should read this and see if you are doing everything you should be doing to live the life you want.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Localization Pain Pyramid

The goal of getting sales in under any condition is creating a pain pyramid in localization companies:

It starts at sales expectations starting at the
CEO ("We need to increase sales!")
then down to...
Sales ("I have to met my sales targets or else!")
then down to...
Vendor Managers ("Who can I get to translate this and maintain these insane margins?")
then down to...
Project Managers
Who can only look at the projects and wonder "how in the world can we do this?”

The inevitable result is dissatisfied end clients (as well as angry salespeople). This dissatisfaction is because the promises sales made in the rush to secure the sales cannot be fulfilled.

Production people are expected to work all night under impossible deadlines, but even this level of commitment can't fulfill promises that are impossible in the first place.

This syndrome leads to project manager attrition (burnt-out PMs) that further impacts the expertise a company can bring to bear on a project.

The failure of this localization company model continues to benefit middle-sized companies who offer specialized resource and key project management skills BEFORE salespeople promise end-clients any crazy thing they want.

The lesson is-> if you don't have localization expertise and if this expertise is not being applied to new projects, then your clients will never be satisfied and won't return.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

“I love Armenians” to “I love Turkey.”

 Google Explains Translation Glitch
...Concerned internet users this week initiated an online campaign after one activist, Lebanese-Armenian Serouj Baghdassarian, noticed that Google’s online translation service ( was mistakenly translating “Ես սիրում եմ հայերին” (“I love Armenians”) to “I love Turkey.”
 “Google Translate is an automated system. It makes guesses based on patterns gleaned from large bodies of human-translated text. It doesn’t do word-by-word dictionary-style translation,” Jason Freidenfelds, from Google’s global communications and public affairs department, told the Armenian Weekly.
“So sometimes [the service] makes mistakes which seem obvious to a human translator, but aren’t to our machine-learning system,” he added...

Friday, February 10, 2012

How to Be Sure About Asian-language Projects

Completing Asian-language projects can be daunting. Dealing with resources of varying degrees of professionalism can wreck havoc with deadlines and quality.

Added to this is the recent phenomenon of legions of unqualified “linguists” masquerading as professional translators of every language. This makes the search for real talent all the more difficult.

Asian projects can and often will go wrong at every turn. Clients get upset. Company salespeople go ballistic. Project Managers get the brunt of everyone’s frustration and still have to try to sort things out.

For freelance prices, Admerix's native-English speaking project managers, backed by our professional linguists, can complete your challenging projects including Asian characters and scripts as well as layout issues, DTP applications, and audio localization.

Admerix will back you up and solve your production problems. Why not send us some project files for evaluation Admerix offers you the benefit of many years of experience and will provide you with peace of mind on your next project.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Instructions or info vomit?

Info vomit—a copious supply of information intended to cover one’s butt and avoid answering questions—is a very real and growing problem in the hectic business world. Info vomit simply spews out information instead of providing relevant and specific instructions. Such action has no thought or regard for whether the intended recipient reads or understands what is being vomited.

It is a common defense mechanism for amateur staff doing a project manager’s job who actually feel it is beneficial to dump as much information as possible on a resource or supplier. This is done for two reasons: 1. To save time going through all the information themselves, and 2. To ensure that if anything goes wrong, they cannot be held accountable for not sending out ALL the information.

Below is an example of a reply in defense of clear and concise communications as opposed to massive dumps of mostly irrelevant information.

Client: I know that it’s very wordy, but it is much better to send more information than too little, don’t you agree?

Admerix: We would have to say in response to this question that we most certainly do not agree. I have been in localization as a project manager for more than ten years, and I can assure you that it is critical not to be overly wordy in handoffs.

Translators generally will not read through overly long instructions, and will rather just take files, translate, and send them back—fix them later if there is a query—rather than wade through a lot of poorly written and unnecessary information in the hand-off mail.

If the information is repeated in several points in the instructions, then it just becomes frustrating. It wastes time, and will always generate confusion. This is why, for our teams, we always take the handed off instructions and rewrite them as briefly and concisely as possible making sure the information is specifically tailored to the resource task. Instructions must be a brief, to the point, as and relevant as possible if they are going to be read and thus followed.

This is the difference between wanting to make sure the people you mange follow your instructions or just wanting to cover your own tail with management by being able to say "I sent all the instructions."

So, are you a professional Project Manager who issues accurate instructions to ensure a quality result, or are you simply an employee who shovels out info vomit so you can go on a coffee break and hope for the best?