Visit our company website at

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.