Process optimization

Best practice: how to make the most of in-country reviews

In-Country Review

Many businesses prefer to get the staff at their sites in other countries to review the translations produced by translation agencies. In itself it’s a good idea, as these staff know their target market better than anyone else and are therefore the best people to optimize the translations – but there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure their efforts don’t end up backfiring.

The translator has worked hard and used all their technical, subject-matter and linguistic expertise to deliver an accurate translation. But that’s often not the end of the story: someone else is then asked to review the translation. In many cases this will be another translator selected by the translation agency, but it may also be one of the client’s staff at a site in the country in question. This process is called an “in-country review” and uses the knowledge of the client’s on-site experts, the people who know best how their company’s texts should be worded. The main benefit is that the in-country reviewer will almost certainly have a better feel for the brand, the target market and the corporate terminology than the translator – no matter how well-versed the latter may be in the respective field – so they’re the best person to apply the finishing touches to ensure the translated text really hits the spot with the target market.

Use in-country reviews with care!

But what sounds good in theory can quickly lead to frustration, inconsistencies, errors, delays and extra costs in practice. Simply giving every translation to in-country reviewers, who then believe they’re being diligent by “correcting” the text (which may involve rewriting half of it as they see fit), isn’t the right thing to do and can result in unnecessary extra costs. Although in-country reviewers speak two (or more) languages and are specialists in their respective fields, they aren’t professional translators so usually won’t have the necessary linguistic expertise. This means they might change things they shouldn’t change – and in a worst case scenario this can result in mistakes or inconsistencies which weren’t there before. And sometimes they add more information to the translation without the knowledge of the translator, leading to chaos when the reviewed translation comes back to the translation agency and is saved in the translation memory, which now contains texts that don’t match up as they did before.

It’s also important to remember that in-country reviewers are carrying out these reviews in addition to their regular activities. The additional workload creates a risk of the review being a rush job (and therefore more likely to result in errors) or of deadlines not being met.

The benefit of core translators

Getting in-country reviewers to review translations is a good idea when introducing new products or when working with a new translation agency/new translators for the first time. But in the long term, once the workflows have settled down, it’s more sensible and more efficient to entrust reviews to the translation agency and its core translators. These linguistic experts will come to feel like in-house staff members, particularly if there are well-maintained term bases and translation memories. Over time they’ll get to know the business and its terminology inside out, and because they were the ones who did the previous translations and can access them in the CAT tool’s translation memory, they’ll see the “big picture” – which helps ensure consistency. In this scenario, giving the odd short translation to in-country reviewers may well do more harm more good.

Clear instructions for optimum results

Translators know the language, in-country reviewers know the subject matter. To get the most out of the translation process, you need an effective combination of the former (ideally core translators) and the latter. Everyone should know what their role is and what they’re expected to do, and that applies in particular to in-country reviewers. They should receive clear instructions telling them what to look out for, what to change and what not to change: obvious errors such as typos, spelling and grammar mistakes and incorrect terminology should always be corrected, but it may be important to limit their changes to those issues. It’s a good idea to give the reviewers comprehensive training in how to use the tool they’ll be working with, and in addition to the source and target text they should also have access to the term base used by the translator. Another option is to carry out the review using SAE-J2450 or a similar model, which is an objective method for evaluating translations that can be customized to suit your needs. But it’s not a one-way street: agencies and clients should work together to produce a style guide to help the core translators, which will minimize the amount of unwanted translations that need to be reworked.

When it comes to in-country reviews, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If the process isn’t clearly defined, they can lead to frustration, additional costs, delays and missed deadlines – not to mention chaotic translations and unusable translation memories. So businesses should take time to consider whether and in what form in-country reviews can benefit them. If you think integrating your staff into the review process might be the right choice for you, speak to us and we’ll work together to come up with the solution that meets your needs.

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