80% of Firms Surveyed Report Problems

According to a survey of global businesses carried out by SDL International, eight out of ten international businesses are suffering because of translation errors that have caused lost revenue, delayed product launches or even resulted in fines for non-compliance. The survey also revealed that half of the firms that responded have on average ten different departments involved in the process of localizing information.

These figures alone should be a warning sign for businesses that they need to improve their translation and localization processes to avoid serious impact on the bottom line. Firms don’t always openly report the monetary impact of such errors, but readers can find a few amusing translation mistake anecdotes online and in the press. We decided not to publish specific case studies here, but we can make them available to you. Included in the case studies are Air France, Indian Air, and the New Jersey Human Services State Agency. Please contact us to receive them by email.

As the pressure to rush products to market increases, the ability to correct errors decreases and the costs of mistakes grow. Further magnifying the cost of poor-quality translation is the fact that many errors go undetected until they create more expensive problems. For example, an error in a CAD file might not be apparent to CAD users, but could cause errors when engineers are creating physical prototypes or even further downstream. In the pharmaceutical industry, translation errors may result in non-compliance fines or, worse, product usage and safety may be compromised, impacting human lives.

So what processes are in place to prevent these mistakes?

  • Resource management:
    The selection of highly qualified and tested language specialists according to strict criteria is the first step towards error-free translation. Translations are only as good as the translators and proofreaders working on them. Be sure to hire professional translators who are native in the target language and who are also subject matter experts in the relevant fields. An additional building block in creating quality translations is a project manager who develops an in-depth knowledge of your localization needs. Project managers also ensure that your requirements and expectations are met for every project. They will ensure that quality checks are performed at every point of the translation process.
  • Project process:
    The implementation of several quality checks throughout the project helps catch errors early and, therefore, minimizes the cost of fixing them. The use of tools such as translation memory and terminology management contributes greatly to reducing mistranslation, ambiguity, and omissions. The tools currently available on the language industry market have started to aid project teams in their efforts to manage consistency and perform quality control checks in an automated manner.At MTM LinguaSoft, we implement quality control checks at every stage in the translation and/or desktop publishing process, starting with the creation of a customized “translation and localization quality control checklist” that travels with each project, and continuing with at least two rounds of proofing. The creation, maintenance and use of translation memory databases allow us to efficiently manage these steps and to keep content consistent across documents.
  • Customer surveys:
    Translation quality is hard to measure objectively, especially outside the markets where the translations will be used. The final test is done by the in-country buyers and users. The “best” translation is the one that doesn’t look like a translation. Therefore, another way to assess the quality of a translation is to verify that it conforms with the client’s expectations and requirements. This is why we ask a lot of questions, both at the beginning of a project and at project completion. A systematic follow up with clients allows MTM LinguaSoft to ensure total satisfaction and build in continuous improvement for future projects.

International firms cannot compete globally in only one language, and being first to market is pointless if you cannot communicate with your audience. As everyone should know, it doesn’t matter how loud you shout—if you’re speaking the wrong language, you simply won’t be heard!

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