Translation review can be a difficult process to manage. One simple step will make the entire process go more smoothly.

Ask your reviewers to review and approve the source document before translation. Most review issues come from differences in opinion on the source content.

Reviewers will likely change the source content via their review. This might include deletion of content, addition of content and modification of content that doesn’t match the originally written documentation.

Why is this issue important?

While these changes can certainly be made in post-editing and desktop publishing, we don’t encourage these types of changes for the following reasons.

  1. Translation memory loss – when changes are made to the source you get a mismatch on translation memory segments. We have two choices when this situation occurs. We can simply make the changes to the translation (target language) and create a false entry in the translation memory or we can provide a translation of the addition/modification so that we can get proper English and we can modify the source so that we have a true match.

Either way this isn’t ideal as it will compromise the ability to properly reuse content for future projects. It would be difficult to determine how much this would impact costs going forward but based on past experience, I would estimate this could degrade the ability to reuse content by 10% to 20%. This would prevent you from capitalizing on the full benefit of the translation memory.

  1. Technical, regulatory and legal considerations – the subject matter experts and authors at your company spend a great deal of time crafting the content that goes into the documentation we translate. That being said we wouldn’t recommend allowing multiple reviewers the ability to make changes to content without a full understanding of the changes. The changes could create errors in specifications, misstatements of features and benefits or the modification of legal text which could cause risks for the company. This will also make it difficult for customer service personnel or others to determine what is actually being said in the document since it will not line up or match with a source document.

This may make things difficult going forward and will be especially difficult if the reviewers in different languages all make different changes to the source. This will add a great deal of complexity to the process and degrade the integrity of all the documents you release.

These are two potentially large issues. But we also understand the point of view of the reviewers. They would like to have input on the documentation. They may also have valuable input since they are in-country and presumably have a good handle on their markets.

So we suggest that the reviewers are given the ability to review the English before translation. That way they can provide input on the source. Any changes are then finalized and approved by the English subject matter expert. Then a standard translation workflow can occur.

The reviewer can still approve the content but his focus will be on terminology. This should make things far smoother on future projects.

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