Transparency through technology | Part 2: Real-time visibility

Following the discussion panel ‘Transparency through technology’ at the recent Localization World conference in Dublin, which featured SmartlingRunkeeperShutterstock and Anja Jones Translation, we wanted to provide a more in-depth overview of how language service providers (LSPs) in particular benefit from increased transparency in translation. In part 2 we take a closer look at real-time visibility.

Real-time visibility is not a new concept, in fact, for many customer-facing industries it’s already standard practice. Just think about online shopping where it’s now a given that you can track your order from the warehouse to your doorstep. Even fairly traditional industries like real estate are offering more visibility into their processes. As little as five years ago, you still had to ring up your solicitor and estate agent, hassling them to give you an update on how the sale of your house is going. Now, they give you a login to their website, so you can check the status of your mortgage application, search reports etc at any time. It seems only natural that the translation industry embraces this trend as well.

Real-time visibility takes the guess work out of translation projects.

Moving away from the ‘black box’ approach

In our daily work as a translation company, we would have, traditionally, sent files to our translators and then we wouldn’t really know what was happening with that file until it got delivered back to us translated. Of course, certain measures can be put in place, ensuring the translator is sufficiently qualified, checking up on references, arranging delivery in batches, etc, but none of this is really fool-proof.

One of the main advantages of cloud-based translation tools like Smartling is that they offer complete visibility across the whole translation workflow, from the translation and the editing all the way to the review step. In comparison to traditional offline translation CAT tools where the LSP sends a file to the translator and then gets the finished result back, Smartling allows us to track the progress of our projects at every stage, in real-time.

Using Smartling, we can much more closely monitor different variables such as quality, project progress and translator activity.

Checking quality

Are the translators using the right tone of voice? Are they respecting the glossary? Have they got a good grasp of the client’s products and services? Being able to check the translator’s work already after a few hundred words (rather than a batch of, say, 2000 words) and addressing any quality issues from the start of a project can be a huge time saver.

Tracking progress

Getting a real-time insight into the progress of a project gives LSPs peace of mind and eradicates the need for constant email communication with the translators to make sure they are still on track with a delivery deadline. Now we can just log in and get a complete picture of what’s going on.

Monitoring translator activity

Most of our translators are freelancers, so one of the things we have to monitor as a translation company is that translators manage their time effectively and don’t rush translations at the last minute. As with any job, rushing your work is likely to result in translations that aren’t as well written as they should be and contain more errors, which then take longer to fix in the review step. With the ‘black box approach’ of traditional offline CAT tools, we weren’t really able to track this, we could merely hazard a guess that a translator might have rushed a translation. Now we can see a complete history of every single segment a translator has worked on, including date and time stamps. If we start to see a pattern emerge where a translator regularly leaves the translation to the last minute and we notice a quality fade, we can address the issue early and directly with the translator.

In essence, real-time visibility is an enabler for LSPs to work more efficiently for their clients and with their translator workforce. It fosters accountability on all sides, and this ultimately increases mutual trust.

In part 3, we will look at transparency through open communication … stay tuned!

Image credit: Photo by Marcel Strauß on Unsplash