Quality in Times of Crisis

Jan 16, 2012   //   By admin   //   Blog  //  No comments

The crisis has hit all sectors, including the translation sector. There is no doubt that it has affected the volume of work, however, does that also mean a reduction in quality?

Firstly, it is important to know the different movers in the world of translation. On the one hand there are freelance translators, and on the other, translation agencies. In general, both are different. Translation agencies can cover a variety of languages and specialities, as well as offer multiple services and a personalised follow-up. On the other hand, freelance translators cover, on average, two language combinations and are not always able to meet the requirements of a certain project, either due to its size, specialist field, or their own availability, etc.

Each agency, upon receiving a translation project, uses its own criteria and procedures. Normally, the team of professionals most suited to the project’s characteristics is selected and then a series of guidelines are followed according to the project. These include, among others, the analysis of both the documentation to be translated and the support material, extraction of the terminology, the translation itself, the revision, proofreading, quality control, layout and registration in the data base.

Throughout the process, the quality, a broad and subjective term, must be maintained at each stage. Regardless of the professionalism with which each company takes on a project, one of the most distinguishing elements is the revision process.

Reviewing a text does not just mean using Word’s spell checker or reading a text for inconsistencies. A revision involves a comparison of the original text with the translation so as to ensure that the terms used are correct, that no information has been left out, and that the language is appropriate and the terminology is coherent. On all projects this task requires meticulousness and precision, and even more so on projects of large volume or multiple languages.

In the world of translation, we know that the revision process is often not carried out in order to cut costs. Sometimes other methods are used such as hiring novice translators, whose rates are more economical, and entrusting the revision to others with more experience –or not-. Sometimes this final step is skipped altogether and the only ‘quality control’ carried out is done by the agency itself in what can only loosely be called ‘a revision’.

We are all aware of how difficult things are. In the reality of today’s market, a large number of clients request a reduction in the rates. They make us aware of their situation, inform us that they have sought different estimates and even provide us with the rates of other ‘competitors’ which wouldn’t even cover the cost of the first translator.

At NAKOM, we believe that agencies like ourselves, acting as the middleman, have a big responsibility. We do not believe that sacrificing the quality of a project to cut costs is a viable solution, unless the client requests it as such and is aware of its implications. Thus, if a client requests a cheaper rate than normal, it is more than likely that it will not cover the costs of the same amount of translators, or that those translators will not possess the same expertise and will therefore be unable to provide the same quality.

In a nutshell, we have to be transparent and able to inform the client of what service they are actually being provided, showing them how to differentiate it, making them aware of when they are paying for a reviewed translation (within the meaning that we all know, my fellow colleagues, let’s be honest!) and when they are not. When they are paying for a translation carried out by an intern into a language that is not his or her own or when a translator who we have hired has made full use of his skill and expertise.

As professionals, we have to maintain a high standard and who better than us to say it how it is. There will be a market for everyone but above all, I trust, and now more than ever, for those who work with honesty and transparency. It’s a long haul, maybe incoherent due to the speed at which the times demand of us, but let´s do the favour of defending our profession- with professionalism.

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