Three Risks of Starting Translation Projects Too Early

Timelines for translation projects seem to be getting more and more compressed every day. Clients trying to get ahead of deadlines often start their translation projects too early. Here are three risks associated with this practice.

1. Multiple sets of changes may increase the risk of error

A proper translation project should have two linguists per language, a lead translator and an editor. Imagine if your project is being handled in 10 languages. That means that the changes have to be properly communicated to 2o linguists and 1 project manager. If the project requires formatting or page production and layout you would need to throw in one or two designers.

We have a completely web-based system that allows us to communicate in real-time with all of our linguists but we would recommend doing no more than 1 or 2 revisions during the life cycle of a project.

2. Multiple revisions after product launch can increase the cost

Following the example listed above, having 20 individuals work on a project that will get changes can be costly. Rework is the number one enemy of creeping costs in translation budgets. If your project is going to change you should discuss this with your project manager at the beginning of the assignment and pick target dates within the assignment as windows of opportunity for changes. We would suggest targeting the completion of the translation as a milestone for a round of revisions. The project can be analyzed for the number of revisions required and the project can be properly updated by the translators in a new round of translation. Upon completion, the editing can proceed as planned.

The most important point is to discuss the types of changes and the potential timing of the changes with your project manager. With some planning, revisions can be handled properly and additional costs can be scoped with full transparency to the client with a change order or updated sales order.

3. Multiple revisions may actually increase the time required for completion

We have participated in some projects where the revisions were actually complete rewrites of the original document. If the changes are extensive all of the project preparation has to be done all over again causing delays. In some cases, the client would have been better off just waiting for the final approved source document before beginning the assignment. The key is to discuss your desired due date and the types of changes as well as the number of changes you think will occur. The project manager should be able to work out a project plan with that information.

Changes are not a problem with proper planning but just keep in mind that minimizing rework will help you get a higher quality product for less money.


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