01.5.2010 by Peter Argondizzo

Translation Crowdsourcing on a Server-Based Production Portal

A relatively new buzz-word, crowdsourcing was termed in 2006 as the “the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call (source: Wikipedia).

” Wikipedia itself is a great example of crowdsourcing—a collaborative pool of writers submitting text into a global Encyclopedia Britannica, so to speak.

Applied to the translation of web pages, software, and even Wikipedia articles, crowdsourcing has become somewhat controversial among individuals employed within regulated industries. Fundamentally, however, the principles behind crowdsourcing can be quite beneficial in a production-based server-driven environment.

Consider a translation for a high-tech medical device client. The pool of individuals qualified to author, edit, translate, review, and approve documentation is relatively small for any given project. Even with companies already using a Content Management System or XML based content- management; the biggest delays in project schedules are usually a result of manpower, not project complexity.

For example, if one of two project reviewers is out sick with the flu, the project manager must transition the project to the second reviewer, concurrently bringing them up to speed on the project (assuming the project manager knows the first reviewer is out sick in the first place). If the project manager is an a different time zone or if the first reviewer is halfway through editing a document on paper, the second reviewer must either start from scratch or obtain a copy of the marked-up document. Any number of delay scenarios is a possibility, and truthfully, delay will probably never be eliminated entirely from any project.

However, running translation projects on server-based translation portal greatly reduces these types of bottlenecks and increases project transparency and traceability. Specifically, giving project managers the tools and technology to concurrently automate and “crowdsource” their projects. For each client, specific project resources (translation memory, standard-terminology, and approved project linguists and reviewers) are uploaded into a program such as the Across Language Server.

Each person involved in the project, from the author to the project manager to the final approver works within the server-environment. Annotation and edits are done within the same interface, eliminating the need for specialized software (software that is potentially in different versions with different features or using different font families). In the event of an audit, this transparency is particularly useful for those operating within the constraints of a quality system environment.

Additionally, a complete trail of changes and modifications is automatically tracked within the system. So, if the first reviewer comes down with the flu, the system is set up to automatically transfer the project to the second (or even another) approved reviewer and that person can easily determine where to begin.

The project manager always knows where the project is at and can modify the work flow at any given time, with minimal impact to the project deadline. Where project managers traditionally facilitated all aspects of a translation project, they now take on the role of a high-level facilitator, allowing the assumption of more projects and access to a greater pool of resources (without necessarily adding more people to the mix).

In fact, the ability to “source” projects in the server-based environment has shown a significant reduction at Argo Translation in number of days in a project cycle (anywhere from one to three days in a five day project cycle). Because Argo Translation has both large and diverse teams of qualified linguists in over twenty industries, the ability to use the server-based production portal to its maximum benefit is a key reason crowdsourcing has evolved from the Wikipedia approach and effectively into the regulated and high-tech professional industries.

About the Author

Julie Henning is the Contributing Editor for Argo Translation’s medical device translation practice. She has over fifteen years experience working in senior technical writing roles at companies that include GE Healthcare and St. Jude Medical. She can be reached at: Julie@ArgoTrans.com.