Mastering Your Translation Workflow

Chidinma Egwuogu
02 Oct 2023

6 min. read


I once tried assembling a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without looking at the picture on the box. Let’s just say it was a disaster.

Translating without a robust translation workflow is similarly unreasonable. You spend more time and resources, achieving notably less impressive outcomes.

Now that you know how not to approach translation, let’s examine a proper translation workflow.

Pro tip: Orchestrate your translation workflow with a professional translation platform – Centus. Learn more.

What is a translation workflow management?

A translation workflow is a systematic, step-by-step process designed to manage and control the stages of translating content from one language to another. It's like a roadmap that ensures each aspect of translation is executed efficiently and accurately.

A typical translation workflow consists of the following steps:

  • Content analysis: Before any translation begins, it's essential to understand the content's nature. This initial stage assesses the content to determine the resources and expertise needed.
  • Translation: This is the core phase where the source content is translated into the target language. Specialized translators or a translation company may be required, depending on the subject matter.
  • Proofreading: After translation, the content undergoes a review to identify and correct any mistakes, inaccuracies, or inconsistencies.
  • Quality assurance (QA): QA assesses the overall quality of the translated document. This includes cultural appropriateness, contextual accuracy, and alignment of multimedia elements.
  • Final review: For critical projects, another round of reviews ensures the translation meets the highest quality standards.
  • Delivery and feedback: The translated content is then delivered or published. This is followed by a feedback loop for continuous improvement.

Getting any step wrong can cause mistakes or delays. That's why using professional tools and following best practices can help a lot in getting translations right.

How to set up an effective translation workflow management

how to set up a translation workflow Every great structure needs a solid foundation. Similarly, an outstanding translation project stems from a well-thought-out workflow. Here’s how to build this foundation:

1. Define your objectives

Understanding why you're translating content is the foundation of an effective workflow. Start by identifying the core purpose of the translation. Your objectives might include:

  • Market expansion: Are you aiming to penetrate a new market?
  • Information dissemination: Maybe you're trying to provide essential information to a global team.
  • Audience engagement: Connecting more personally with a particular demographic?

Once you've identified your objectives, match them to your target audience. If you’re targeting teenagers in France, don’t shun slang. For a formal business document targeting French executives, opt for a more polished and official language.

2. Pick the right team

The success of any project is highly dependent on having the right individuals involved. Essential members of your translation team might include:

  • General translators: Useful for most generic texts.
  • Domain experts: Crucial for specialized content like medical or legal documents.
  • Cultural consultants: To ensure translations are culturally correct and do not offend regional audiences. They also help translations look and sound more native to the target audience.

You’ll also need a multilingual project manager to coordinate your team. The key is ensuring that everyone is in sync and that each person brings a unique value to the table.

3. Use the right tools

The internet offers a plethora of translation tools and solutions designed to simplify tasks and enhance output quality. Ensure the tool you choose supports your file formats.

Translation management systems (TMS) offer built-in translation memories that remember and auto-suggest previously translated phrases. This feature not only speeds up the process but also maintains consistency across large volumes of text.

Additionally, tools with collaborative features can be a game-changer, especially for teams spread across different locations. Real-time collaboration, annotations, and cloud storage can make the workflow seamless and integrated.

Pro tip: To create seamless translation workflows, use translation memories, glossaries, QA checks, machine translation tools, and other advanced features of a professional localization platform – Centus. Learn more.

4. Set clear milestones

Having clear milestones ensures that you're always on track. It also helps you track progress and ensures everyone is on the same page. Decide whether you want to segment your workflow by word count, sections, or chapters.

Let's say you're translating a 300-page book. Instead of seeing it as one mammoth task to do in one go, break it down. Decide to translate 30 pages a week. By the end of 10 weeks, not only would the book be translated into one language, but you'd also have had ample time for revisions. This approach provides natural review points and keeps the momentum going.

5. Establish communication channels

Clear communication is the bedrock of any successful project. Opt for a centralized tool where the team can converse, share updates, and brainstorm solutions. Keeping everyone on the same page ensures that challenges are addressed promptly, and the workflow remains efficient.

6. Iterate and refine

The initial setup of a translation workflow is just the beginning. After each project, take a moment to reflect on what went well and areas of potential improvement. This iterative approach ensures that your process remains dynamic and in tune with evolving requirements.

7. Choose an appropriate translation method

Different projects demand different translation methods. Whether you're translating technical manuals, marketing collateral, or literary works, the method you choose will significantly influence the output's quality. You can opt for:

  • Human translation: The traditional method where a human translator translates the content. It's perfect for intricate pieces where nuance and emotion are vital, like literary works or high-profile business documents.
  • Machine translation with human post-editing (MTPE): In this method, AI tools give you an initial translation draft. However, after the machine does its part, expert linguists step in. They refine the content and ensure it's up to par.

This MTPE blend often works well for bulk content tasks where speed is of the essence but quality can't be compromised.

Fun fact: 12% of translators do not use computer-assisted translation tools. And among those 12%, Law and Patent translators hold the highest number. Guess you can’t be too careful with legal documents.

8. Create your translation assets

When you're gearing up for consistent translation projects, it's smart to have a solid foundation in place. Translation assets provide that foundation, ensuring you have the necessary resources to kick off any project with efficiency and accuracy. Some of these assets include:

  • Glossaries: These as special, custom dictionaries. They contain terms that are specific to your industry or business. For instance, a tech company might use terms that have a different connotation within their sector. A glossary keeps everyone aligned and minimizes confusion.
  • Translation memory: Imagine working on a document and feeling like you've seen a particular section before. It happens often in translation. Instead of redoing work, a translation memory — a repository of previous translations — can be accessed. It not only saves time but also maintains uniformity across different projects.
  • Style guides: These are the rulebooks for your translation tasks. They capture the spirit of your brand's communication. Does your brand communicate with a touch of formality? Or does it lean towards a casual vibe? A style guide provides clear directives for these nuances, ensuring every translation aligns with your brand's voice.

Ultimately, your translation workflow depends on multiple factors: your niche, the content, your intent, your organization, and your experience, among others. Keep it dynamic and be open to tweaks and changes as you gather more experience.

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