Creating high quality localization for an automotive giant

Client:

A German automotive manufacturer with several internationally-known brands, exported to numerous markets. However, they were experiencing quality issues in three specific languages with their automotive translation and localization process.

Challenges

The client’s complex manufacturing process spread across multiple countries. Each time the in-progress product crossed borders, so the language of the process. 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’s tight deadlines could not be met through an iterative process. Quality needed to be built in to the localization workflow from the start.

Solutions

Alpha first worked with the client to create a detailed workflow that matched their processes.  Through a series of requirements gathering meetings and workshops, we detailed the process from the planning stage right through to the delivery. From this consultation, we established firm guidelines for the use of tools, specified the required tone of voice and clarified term-bases and previous translation memories. Alpha undertook detailed Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA) analysis on the existing languages during planning. The goal was to understand where the firm’s previous translators were encountering quality issues. The LQA analysis highlighted ways in which stylistic issues could be improved through greater knowledge-sharing from client to translator. As a result, Alpha built effective knowledge-sharing into the system.

Set-up

The set-up stage involved two factors: the allocation of resources (our human translators); and the sharing of knowledge. After assigning a project manager, we began the process of identifying the best translators to work on the project. Working to such standards on an ambitious timeline meant that only translators experienced in automotive work would be appropriate. Accuracy was also a consideration. As the translators would be required to work to high quality standards, and maintain accuracy on tight deadlines, we required experience in automotive work for the team. With precise evaluations of translators available from the LQA analysis, the Project Manager (PM) was able to select five translators who had both the right experience and the right skillset to promote trust in their accuracy. 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 translators in place, we set about educating them. The ambitions project deadlines required that two translators should work simultaneously in each language. With our translators in place, we set about educating them. To ensure everyone was working consistently to the client’s detailed style and tone-of-voice guidelines, glossaries and policies we held a training session on-site with all the translators.

The Process

The client’s existing translation tool had been developed internally in stages. Though the tool had room for improvement, it housed valuable translation memories. Alpha’s team of developers integrated the client tool with our system and imported the translation memories to maximize the client resources and maintain critical knowledge. The new system enabled the PM to assign files to translators as they became available. The translators could conduct all of their work within the system, including submitting questions to the client when there were uncertainties over consistency or terminology or to clarify and correct potential errors. Once complete, the files could be reviewed by Alpha’s in-house editors.

Feedback

Translation and localization processes are often seen as a one-way system. The Alpha process is more robust, with two-way dialogue between us and each client embedded into our process. Client feedback was input directly back into the process, ensuring that each segment of translation would become more accurate and fit the house style more completely.

Results

The client was very happy with the initial project. LQA assessment verified improved quality in the three target languages. The re-invigorated system was scalable. We partnered with the client to use it in a series of additional projects, including significant customer-facing materials. Alpha continues to work with this client, and refine our processes to meet their quality and accuracy needs.