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4 Common Failures in Business Translation Projects

Sep 17, 2021

Corporate translations can cover a wide range of materials: websites, print and web ads, usage instructions, employee handbooks, contracts, and more. In our 20 years of experience providing business translation services, Morningside has seen it all and encountered the entire gamut of unique project circumstances and special requirements. Those decades of experience have given us the tools to identify patterns and overarching themes that make corporate translation projects go off track.

Here are four common areas in corporate translation projects that are most likely to cause issues that could negatively impact budget, schedule, or quality ­– and tips on how to avoid these pitfalls.

1. Not allocating enough time for translation

Most businesses know well in advance that their corporate documents will require translation somewhere down the line. However, translation is too often considered an afterthought. Accurate corporate translation often requires multiple passes by experienced translators, editors, and machine learning tools to ensure the highest quality output. This necessary level of scrutiny takes time.

To protect against deadline drift, share documents requiring translation, their final intended use and their audience with your business translation services provider. Your translation partner will provide a timeline for their process and ensure the schedule includes sufficient time. Trying to compress translation into a truncated period at the end of the project can result in rush fees that inflate your budget.

2. Lack of internal communication

Poor communication between your company’s teams can result in confusion that can slow a project to a crawl or stall its forward progress entirely. Various stakeholders in your organization may have divergent expectations of where and how the final translated materials will be used. Discovering these disparities after the translation has been completed can result in deliverables not matching expectations.

Furthermore, poor internal communication could lead to a missed opportunity to leverage language asset management tools like translation memory. Terms, phrases and even large blocks of text are often reused in materials across different business units. Failing to leverage existing glossaries, term-bases and translation memories could cause unnecessary expenditures and inconsistent quality.

Involve every stakeholder on your end from the beginning of the project, outlining their final needs. Include your corporate translation services provider throughout this process so they, too, understand the requirements for each department and will work in concert toward meeting your team’s complete set of specifications.

3. Overlooking technical or formatting issues

Technical aspects of your materials may seem insignificant to you but could have a serious impact on how your corporate translation services provider approaches or delivers a project. Share as much as you know about your project from the very beginning, including your source language materials as they exist in their final format. Remember, translation starts with authoring.

For example: if your corporate translation project involves translating forms and instructions for use, your final deliverable may require both languages side-by-side in a document. If your project involves graphics or images, you may need to change their positioning or swap them out for something more culturally relevant. Beyond the basic language translation, this structure requires review from a designer to ensure the layout does not negatively impact translation quality. Because these additional “non-language” translation considerations take time, it’s important to share as much information as possible with your translation partner from the very beginning so that they can build in additional resources and timing.

4. Insufficient control over the source material

Make sure your source material is completely final before handing it off to your translation partner. Source language changes have a ripple effect that impacts translation. Returning to previously translated materials to make tweaks once the source language has been changed isn’t always as easy as adjusting a word or two. To preserve accuracy, limit the number of changes after the source material has been translated.  Even small changes require additional scrutiny that can misuse time or risk inaccuracies.

Develop a personal relationship with your translation services partner

With all translation projects, your language services partner is there to support your success. Getting to know your project manager personally will help facilitate strong communication between your team and theirs. Learning more about their process – and sharing more about yours – ensures everyone can contribute their best. Look for project managers who are reachable by phone as well as email.

Every project has the potential for surprise issues, but keeping the lines of communication open, remaining vigilant against schedule (and budget) drift, and establishing a clear understanding of final deliverables will help you sidestep the most common corporate translation failures.

Partner with our experienced, in-country linguists for your next corporate translation project. Contact Morningside today to learn how we can help.




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