A German automotive manufacturer with several internationally-known marks. The client exported to numerous markets, but was experiencing quality issues in three specific languages with their automotive translation and localisation process.
The client had a complex manufacturing process spread across multiple countries. This meant that their process crossed borders on numerous occasions, and in so doing, also changed language. Alpha were brought in to complete an initial project on a series of internal training documents that needed to be produced without quality issues, to ensure effective communication. The company operated to tight deadlines, so quality could not be achieved by an iterative process. It needed to be built in to the localisation workflow from the start.
Alpha worked with the client to create a workflow that matched their processes. We detailed it from the planning stage right through to the delivery, based on initial meetings with the client. During these meetings we assessed their requirements, and established firm guidelines for the use of tools, the required tone of voice, and all term-bases and previous translation memories. During planning, detailed Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA) analysis was undertaken by Alpha on the existing languages. The aim was to understand where the firm’s previous translators were encountering quality issues. Having established that some stylistic issues could be improved by greater knowledge-sharing from client to translator, we built effective knowledge-sharing into our system.
The set-up stage involved two factors: the allocation of resources (our human translators); and the sharing of knowledge. Having assigned a project manager, we began the process of identifiying the best translators to work on the project. Working to such standards at such a deadline meant that only translators experienced in automotive work would be appropriate. Accuracy was also a consideration. Our team has a constant process of review of our translators, using our Linguistic Quality Assurance team to sample their work and report back on it six times per year. With precise scoring of translators available, the Project Manager (PM) was able to select translators with full trust in their accuracy. The project deadlines required that two translators should work simultaneously in each language. The PM identified five translators who had both the right experience and the right skillset. After some consideration, a sixth translator was sourced from a vendor with whom we had worked in the past, and who had been highly rated for accuracy. With our translators in place, we set about educating them. With the client supplying detailed style and tone-of-voice guides, glossaries and policies we held a briefing session on-site with all the translators.
The client had a translation tool already in place, which had been developed at various stages internally. Our team of developers integrated this tool with our system and imported the translation memories that the company had already accrued during previous work. As the files became available, they were assigned to the team of translators via the project manager. The translators worked on them within the translation system, and submitted queries to the client when any apparent mistakes were found, or when there were uncertainties over consistency or terminology. Once complete, the files were uploaded to the system for review by our in-house editors.
Translation and localisation processes are often seen as a one-way system. The Alpha process is more communicative, with dialogue going back and forth between us and each client in as free a way as possible. Where feedback was provided by the client, it was fed directly back into the process, so that each segment of translation would become more accurate and fit the house style more completely.
The client was very happy with the initial project. Quality in the three languages was improved, and with our LQA testers able to assess it, we were able to measure the improvement in numerical terms. Our system came even more into its own when we were able to use it in a series of additional projects with this client, including significant customer-facing materials. We are continuing to work with this client, and to refine our processes further to bring them the quality they need.
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