Category Archives: Project Management

A day in the life of a 21st century translator

I’m not your vanilla-type translator. I’m not a conventional writer. Keen-eyed readers of my blog might have noticed that I never capitalize Every Single Word in my blog headings. I march to the beat of my own drum. However, I didn’t start like that at all. I thought I would be translating articles, business documents or similar media day in and day out for a corporation or organization after I earned my diploma.

Twenty five years ago, with a bachelor’s degree in English and Translation Studies in hand, I did not have one or two specializations in mind. Although I had studied the basics of Law for four semesters as part of the translation studies’ curriculum, I only knew I didn’t want to be a sworn translator nor a bilingual officer of the court (called perito bilingüe in Argentina at the time) nor did I want to specialize in legal translation (as in law-related translations).

The two main forces that shaped my professional decisions over those 25 years were not creativity, inspiration, following a particular leader or influencer or discovering the holy grail of selling professional services. No, sir. The two factors that drove me to where I am today as a diplomate translator were a) market demands on my services and b) my own intellectual interests.

There you have it then: I’m not a translator who just writes translations day in and day out. Today, Thursday, May 5th, 2016, is representative of what I do:

  • Write and deliver a rush 400-word corporate translation by 11:30 a.m.
  • Finish a medical transcription in Spanish and then translate it into English for delivery by noon
  • Insert newly translated paragraph in two InDesign documents, prepare deliverables (PDF files for printing) and deliver them before 7:30 p.m.
  • Review the typesetting of a corporate slogan I had translated into Spanish weeks ago and send the annotated PDF file back to the customer, with pertinents recommendations to their desktop publisher for improving copy of the same corporate slogan in RTL (right-to-left) languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.

Translation courses and BA/MA programs for the 21st century emphasize the use of software tools to manage projects, terminology lists and translation memories. These courses also include practical instructions on project management (a related career choice for translators), software localization (another related career) and business aspects of the profession, such as marketing tips. All these components are important and have a place in a translator’s career, but they should not be taught nor emphasized at the expense of a thorough, critical and lively discussion of the craft of translation. After all, a translator is a craftsman. It’s the writing, not the tools, that make a translator, whether in this century or in the millenia to come.

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Filed under Baccalaureate degree, Diplomate translator, Professional development, Project Management, Public relations in translation, Spanish DTP, TEnT tools, The craft of translation, Writing skills, Writing skills

A reputational story

Introduction

Companies are concerned about their image, their brand, their standing. It’s nothing new. Old problems with new words. What was described as affecting the reputation and the good name of a company is not adjectivized as reputational.

If a company enjoys a place of high esteem among its peers and in the community, domestically and internationally, then that good name becomes valuable and acquires a monetary value. It is then used as currency to extend its influence, increase its market share and cement its reputation.

Translators and translation agencies have depended on name dropping (“IBM is one of our customers”) and certifications (“Member of ASETRAD” or “ATA-certified translator”) to preestablish their status and foster trust. Testimonials started to appear in the late 90s on company websites as well as on individual translator’s webpages. The problem I always saw with those testimonials was their anonymized nature. Here’s a current example:

Straker translations testimonials

First names, or initials, with no company affiliation. Hm, does that approach foster trust? Some fabricated reviews at websites such as Amazon created a bit of an uproar a few years back, what we would call escandalete in Spanish or furore in British English (or Italian). Compare this with an exemplary use of testimonials below:

Advanced language translations testimonials

The company Advanced Language Translations is using testimonials the way I think they should be used: who said what about your company. The downside? Testimonials may have a short shelf life because project managers, localization managers, purchasing staff and others in similar positions come and go. The main advantage of a testimonial is its focus when it is properly written. Keen eyes may have also noticed that none of the testimonials refer to competitive pricing or low rates but to “reasonable cost” and “on budget.” As a translator myself, I would love to work on one of their projects!

Reputation and references

Speaking of working for a company as a translator, I recently had a telephone interview with a headhunting agency for an 8-week project involving technical writing and Spanish translation (two of my specialty activities). I was required to provide two professional references, as the best practice in these interviews go. I keep a list of at least six, so I provided two of them within minutes. I was promised to get a call back that afternoon.

The phone rang as anticipated and the interviewer thanked me for the references, but made some comments about one of them, saying that they couldn’t use it because my reference wouldn’t divulge what kind of projects I had taken part in. Then, I offered other references, which I emailed immediately. Coincidentally, the person who turned out not to be an adequate reference for this job called me to tell me about his experience. This is a personal friend and a long-time client, mind you. His reason for not giving particulars to the interviewer? He considered the details of his projects to be confidential and he left the impression that he was a competitor of the interviewer’s company.

Although he gave the interviewer very positive comments on my professionalism and dependability, his earnest and strict approach to giving detailes as requested by the interviewer backfired. I did not get the job. The moral of the story for me: be selective about which references to offer for a particular job. Did my reputation suffer? I think not, since the headhunting agency was working for the actual customer and is contractually bound to find the most adept candidate for the project, not for themselves.

Branding the profession

Translators and translation agencies earn and lose customers by word of mouth, directly and indirectly, all the time. This does not necessarily mean that a particular translator or agency is incompetent or a poor provider, but that their fees or rates are outside the budgetary boundaries of a customer, or that the customer used other economic or social criteria to choose a different vendor (“Our new translator is easier to work with”). Due to the globalizing nature of the Internet and its tools, market encroachment, client poaching and the downward pressure on services fees have given reputation a sometimes undesirable fluidity.

This impermanent state of affairs has taken some old hands by surprise: accustomed to decent pre-Internet translation rates, they complain and lament the way clients come and go looking for the most competitive rates. And this is happening regardless of the translation provider’s solid reputation. What a translation company or a translator has invested decades in developing, their good name and good professional standing no longer seems to hold the same reputational value. Seasoned translators in developed countries such as Great Britain, France and the United States have groaned in hushed whispers, then in loud complaints, about the influx of so-called cheap providers from developing countries, as if there is some conspiracy behind them to undercut their market share and, of course, their reputation. If a customer prefers a Spanish translator living in China over another living in Spain, what’s the point in cultivating your good name?

Among the answers given to this dilemma by translation associations and so-called language consultants, I have seen an increase in presentations, webinars, brochures and similar vehicles to help translators and similar providers with marketing their services better and, lately in the first years of the 21st century, with branding their services. As an example, the American Translators Association’s conferences have held an increasing number of marketing sessions. Based on a visual assessment of ATA’s past conferences, we have the following:

ATA sessions for indep contractors over 14 years

In the span of 14 years, we see a dramatic increase in sessions targeting independent contractors (individual translators and interpreters) to educate them on the use of sales, marketing, branding and business techniques and tools. This development shows two things in my mind: a) an increased preoccupation on better ways to sell translation services and b) the transformation of ATA conferences from an educational event to a marketing one.

Of course, I agree that translators should cultivate a good professional name in order to optimize their word-of-mouth approach to finding and retaining customers. In my experience, customers worth retaining prefer a reliable service, a personal touch and negotiation skills to find a reasonable price worth paying. In the field of professional reliability, I’ve been intrigued by other online tools that might be of service to a translator or translation company.

The branding aspect works best with companies than with individuals. A brand is usually tied to a logo, a slogan and a single word to convey a positive image. Take IBM’s Think, for example. An individual translator or interpreter (or similar professional) would do better in creating and maintaining a good name or good reputation, however, as the branding approach is kind of silly and oversized. A translator who is too concerned about her brand risks projecting an unfocused view, a pretentiously sized corporate image that isn’t really there, just as the “We” statements in individual websites.

Separate but successful business endeavors

During the summer of 2015, when work volume was low, I started to sell items on eBay: electronics, audio equipment and other second-hand items, such as vinyl records. Selling successfully on eBay is mostly a matter of personal image: how fast you ship and how accurate is your description of the item being offered for auction or sale; in short, what good your word of honor is. Consequently, good eBay sellers take very good care of their reputation by fostering a climate of trust that will engender good reviews and addressing any problems with the customer as they arise.

I started to think about the reputational and economic value of my eBay reviews when I read the following from a recent buyer:eBay positive review

This positive feedback surely feeds one’s ego, but there are many potential buyers who read these reviews in order to guide their purchasing decisions. Would then it be appropriate to route potential translation customers to my eBay feedback page? From a business standpoint, I don’t see why not.

Conclusion

For individual translators, professional and personal references are still being used, along with a CV or resumé and sometimes a cover letter, to assess a candidate for a job or project. Although websites and directories are being consulted to find competent translators, they are just a couple of several components in an effective business strategy to find and retain customers by word of mouth and good reputation. Branding and marketing listicles are gimmicks that only benefit the consultant who offers them. Not all social media are amenable to foster trust or a good name, but try them you must in order to find for yourself —not by others’ opinions— whether these are tools worth using. In my long experience as a translator, a good reputation is built every time a project is delivered to specs or beyond expectations, every time I exchange polite and on-point communications, every single time I telephone a customer who is frustrated or who needs to discuss a delicate aspect of a project. No fancy website and no extensive blog nor Facebook posting can do that.

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Filed under Brand awareness, Branding, Customer relationship, Customers, Marketing, Negotiations, Reputation, Selection of language providers, The business of translation

Translation craftsmanship and the culture of quality

What do the terms quality, accuracy, precision and perfection have in common? They share an almost mathematical trait of exactness, of measuring by numbers. They also point to something concrete, tangible, almost physical. Days can be measured in hours and seconds. Cargo space in cars can be measured in cubic feet. Even unseen things can be measured, as the gravity of an asteroid or planet or the wattage of an electric current.

The above list of terms, which bring to mind a rhythm of their own so grounded in facts and data, reflects more of an industrial or technological domain. Within an industry, sets of instructions can also be measured by quantity, length and even objectiveness. Any technical writer worth his ink will tell you that a technical document containing instructions to install a boiler cannot have personal opinions on the make and model of the device or whether it’s painted in pretty colors. Simply put, those attributes are foreign to the goal of a technical document.

I recently watched how a Western-style mounting saddle is being made on TV: the different rawhide pieces, sheets of tin to provide strength to the seat, the kinds of needles and strings used to sew leather, the warm-water treatment of the main piece of leather to make it pliable and flexible, etc. revealed the work of highly skilled artisans and saddle makers. The kinds of tools a saddle maker uses have their own names and unique purposes. Never mind the specialized terminology. Just the step-by-step portrayal of such an involved and logical process gave the viewer a sense of pleasure and completion, even to someone who doesn’t ride horses, far removed from the realities of saddle making. The craftsmanship is there for all to see and appreciate.

The same could be said about other industrial processes: beer, waffles, bread, the soon-to-be-extinct Twinkies, bricks, cars, boats, etc. For example, we seldom see craftsmanship in the making of a car because most automobile plants are virtually robotized and human workers only assemble parts, install electrical harnesses or push buttons and pull levers. Their function is important and essential, but denotes no particular creativity because everything has already been designed and determined in advance: the length of a certain panel or the number and color of knobs on the dashboard. Putting them together and running  some quality tests afterwards is all they have to do.

But if you see an industrial process involving some secret sauce or combination of ingredients, or some unrevealed temperature at which something is forged, baked or heated (because it’s confidential), you can see a glimpse of craftsmanship. Someone —not a machine— thought about the different proportions of a certain formula or the best temperature at which to subject a certain material for best results, and decided on a formula by trial and error or because it has been handed down from generations past. That’s craftsmanship, the human touch, the unmeasurable attribute.

To use the word “quality” to try to measure such handiwork is almost patronizing. Granted, we speak of good quality whenever we feel a perfectly smooth and polished leather in a pair of boots, or the lack of burrs in a polished skillet, or the soft border of a very good sheet of paper that doesn’t give us a paper cut. We speak of high quality pictures on a TV when we detect no dead pixels, no smudgy black transitions. Can we speak of high quality poetry or fiction writing? When we read a paper on a topic we care about, like job reports, climate change or safety in public places, do we judge them in terms of quality…or whether they address those topics properly? To me, using the word “quality” in any degree to describe the attributes of a piece of writing is akin to using a stainless steel spoon to measure and weigh the love of a child.

I propose we return to basics and leave alone the bad metaphors based on the making of solid objects. I propose we talk about translation craftsmanship. When we view translations written from the viewpoint of a craftsman, we may appreciate their unique character, even their so-called flaws. We begin to focus on how well written a translation is and not on the number of errors we seem to encounter. The actuarial obsession with which some companies seem to focus on an error-free translation, creating splashy graphics and mind-numbing statistical models to explain how each error in grammar, terminology and syntax should be counted, measured and measured again to provide a picture of quality is a slippery slope to numbing criticism of translations.

Have you ever encountered a completely error-free handbook, speech or clinical trial report in English? Talking about translation quality sometimes feels like talking about the natural imperfections of the wood made to build a cabinet or a table. We lose sight of the whole picture as we focus more on errors and how to avoid them. We make less intelligent judgments about what constitutes good writing in translation because we are too busy counting words, lines of text and commas. We end up thinking like a calculator rather than a human being.

When was the last time you wrote something and felt happy with the final copy? When was the last time you sat down to write an email reply that actually had a coherent subject line on top, a proper salutation and not just “Hi,” and addressed all the points requiring an answer? Do you feel qualified to critique someone else’s writing style? Why, or why not? After all, if you can read complex texts, why shouldn’t you be able to write them and weigh how others write them?

Shouldn’t we start with ourselves and cultivate good writing in order to recognize it in others? Craftsmanship means taking pride in your own work and recognizing good work and giving credit to others for it. Craftsmanship means doing purposeful, complete things with your hands and your mind. Translators are writers, wordsmiths, artisans of the written word, not industry drones that slap words together in other languages.

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Filed under Technical writing, Translation as art, Translation as value added, Translation as writing, Translation errors, Translation testing, Writing skills

Cut through the maze: Tips on hiring a translation provider

As your company expands locally and overseas, hiring is not limited to bringing new employees on board —outsourcing to small translation businesses when needed can be a lifesaver if done right. Contracting a language services company for the first time can be a daunting experience when you don’t know anyone in the industry. Who do you turn to for referrals? How can you screen? Who vets the professionals who say they can translate your marketing collaterals, your website, your tradeshow signage?

Hiring an independent translation provider is not much different than hiring a new electrician or an interior decorator. Surely you don’t just crack your yellow pages book open and start dialing AAA Translations on a whim, right? The following paragraphs should be helpful in guiding you through the maze of options and help you to weed out the marketing hyperbole to know exactly who you are hiring and what you are getting in return.

Train your hiring eye on a provider from several angles

Let me start with a personal story. Two years ago, I was looking for a floor installer to set a new floor in my recently purchased condo. I did my due diligence: scanned prices for materials and called 3-4 different floor installers out of a list provided by a local retailer, who didn’t offer to endorse any in the list. During my calls, I asked for particulars and a quote. Three of them visited my place and offered a written quote. Finally, I chose the lowest quote, the installer came and installed the floor as promised. But he was very slow on follow-ups, I had to hold payment temporarily due to his ordering the wrong materials and arguing with the retailer over it. Did I get the floor installation I wanted? In a way, yes, but the customer service experience left a bittersweet taste. Would I do business with this provider? Definitely not.

What was my problem? What did I not foresee? After all, I researched prices for flooring and looked up a handful of installers…but I focused a bit too much on price. Being fairly new in the area, I had no one to ask for recommendations. What would I do differently? I would focus more on (a) getting recommendations and (b) asking information about satisfied customers served by the installer and worry less on getting the lowest bid.

When faced with a need to translate brochures, websites, manuals and the like, many businesses intuitively reach out to other businesses for recommendations. Unlike services such as roof repair, tax preparation and office remodeling, language services such as translation are invisible to the buyer because the product, the language the translation is written in, is usually an unknown variable. A client of mine serves the language needs of a clinic in central Indiana. This clinic serves English speakers as well as Spanish and Burmese speakers. Except for Burmese-reading patients, nor the clinic staff or my client read any Burmese. So, for my client to know that the product —the Burmese translations— are any good is to rely on the reaction from Burmese patients.

So, many buyers of translation services go in blind, depending on promises of high quality translations from translation vendors. Is there a way to leverage this situation in your favor? Even if you don’t speak or read the foreign language, you can still control the screening of language providers and get the best bang for your buck…and happy customers who come to rely on your company literature in multiple languages.

I have compiled a short list of recommendations to help you out in your search for the best candidate for your translation job. The objective is to gain a clearer picture of the language services industry and keep you on the driver’s seat.

Call a professional association first. Professional translators and reputable translation companies are usually members of a professional association and have to abide by a code of ethics. The American Translators Association is the entity representing language professionals that have passed a certification exam, have university degrees or have undergone special training. Its members have provided language services for a number of years and are generally qualified to write documentation at a college or business level. ATA has regional affiliate offices called chapters and provide free access to a comprehensive directory of translators, interpreters and language service companies. In NE Ohio, visit http://notatranslators.org/ for a list of local language service providers.

Call your local chamber of commerce. Many translators and translation companies are members of a local chamber of commerce and are involved in their activities. Take advantage of this resource by getting in touch with your local chamber of commerce.

Call a competitor. Maybe one of your competitors has a webpage in a foreign language. Call him up and find out what he did about screening and selecting their language service provider. When requesting a referral, ask what priorities they applied in the selection, how they measured the provider’s performance and whether their customers were happy with the final product (the translation).

Ask for references. If you already have a language services provider in mind, via referral, recommendation or previous experience, ask for solid references of past work. Specifically, make sure to ask how they handled errors, mistranslations or complaints by customers, how responsive and sensitive to your customer’s needs they are, and how willing they are to learn about your company.

Look beyond bilingual. Many language service providers promise translations of any type of document in any known language. Since translation involves writing, ask for verifiable samples of translations. By verifiable I mean original translations that haven’t been lifted or scraped off of websites, original translations from real-life satisfied customers, and translation copy that responded to the business needs of the customer. Translation is a specialized writing skill not entirely dependent on bilingualism. Respectable professional translators are excellent writers. Be wary of interpreting companies or full-time interpreters who offer translations, as well as bilingual professionals with no previous successful writing experience of a professional (i.e., published) level.

Look for a matching skill set. Even in the world of professional translators, not every translator or translation company is well suited for all types of documents or websites. Look for providers with proven experience in your industry or in a sister industry. Avoid jacks and jills of all trades in this respect. If you are a hospital that performs clinical trials, for example, look for a provider with expertise in that kind of medical documentation.

Last but not least, here’s a step you can take to be in control of who you hire as your translator even if you don’t know the foreign language: ask for a written sample. Not a translation, but a short piece of original writing in English about your business or industry. For example, if you are a manufacturer, ask the translator or language services provider to send you a 200-word composition about the kind of products you make. How does this help you? First, it is in English and you can gauge how good the writing is. Second, it shows how familiar and comfortable the provider is in writing about your industry or product. Third, it tells you the level of interest the provider has in working for a company like yours.

As with many other hiring scenarios, you will want to make sure that your language services provider is someone who provides good service, who will be loyal to your customers and who will solve a particular problem in your organization, not create one. Even if you don’t speak or read a foreign language that your company needs, you can still maintain control over the screening and hiring process of a language specialist that will hopefully become a long-time associate and, like any other good employee, will mirror your hard-earned good reputation and business image for years to come.

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Filed under English writing test, Selection of language providers, Vendor management

Rethinking translation QA

After completing two translation tests for a prospective customer, I was given some feedback. It was not what I wanted to hear. From ‘translator is not quite familiar with the industry terminology’ to ‘needs supervision’, the comments were stinging. Why would I feel bothered by an anonymous critique, you’d say? For the same reason a stranger tells you that you don’t know how to run your business.

I wrote back to my prospective customer and expressed my frustration at the inconsistency between the level of the criticism and the kind of “errors” found in my translation tests. The main point I tried to make was that many of the “errors” were preferences of the translators or editors who checked my translations. Weeks later, I received an email expressing concern, approval of my vendor status and an offer to do better at communicating. I replied my prospective customer by saying that, apparently, she takes translation test results only as one of many factors to decide who to hire as a freelancer.  The message reads as follows:

I definitely  do not just use the errors in the sample to determine the approval of a translator.  I take into account many different things.  I even take into account the tone and wording of the e-mails and telephone conversations in general.  That tells me  a lot about a person. A sample of 350 words is hardly enough to base my entire judgment on.

What weight does this have on translation quality control? That error counting does nothing to tell you what you need to know about a freelance translator. I’ve been thinking about the whole business case for implementing translation quality standards, and I think that some in the industry are so focused on finding errors that they fail to see the tree from the woods.

For QA to work in any field, it has to offer practical, cost-effective instruments to measure things. But you need to find measurable things. Languages are not like math or geography or archeology. How do you measure a language? How do you even measure if a document is well written? By counting the typos or syntax errors? Then how do you measure style?

I posit that none of this can be measured in any meaningful way. I propose a different way to ‘measure’ translation quality: effectiveness.

Now you’ll tell me ‘But effectiveness cannot be measured!’ And you might be right…to a point. Let’s imagine marketing campaigns. An effective marketing campaign is the one that increases sales, name recognition, gets people to talk about your company and your product. A similar strategy can be employed for translation effectiveness. That the focus is on business results is the beauty of it.

This is an ongoing analysis and it is a work in progress. I am not claiming to have found the ultimate solution to measuring translation, but my experience strongly suggests in my mind that we are going about it the wrong way. Go ahead, measure words and errors all you want. You will end up empty-handed.

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Filed under QA standards, Standard translation test, Translation errors, Translation testing

Who tests the translators?

Translation tests can be a welcome sign of interest from a prospective client for a translator…or an annoyance that elicits loud groans among some of the more seasoned linguists. I recently took part on a group discussion on LinkedIn regarding a translator’s reaction to a client requesting a translation test. The topic is so hot and thorny in the translation community that the discussion collected more than 125 postings in its thread.

I am not going to engage in endless arguments about the pros and cons of translation testing. Having said that, I strongly believe that a business (the translation agency or LSP) has every right to vet the assets it hires to perform linguistic services, especially because ours is an unregulated profession (at least, in America).

What I am going to propose to you, gentle readers (sorry about pilfering your phrase, Miss Manners), is this: let’s face the issue in a productive manner. Let’s talk about standardizing the translation test, maybe get the American Translators Association involved in the discussion. Some might say ‘But we already request ATA certification.’ Yes, but the ATA certification is no proof of performance.

What I propose is bringing all interested parties under one roof to discuss the pros and cons of translation tests, the current situation (maybe run some surveys among LSPs?) and suggest ways to address the weak points. Translation agencies need a tool to vet the translators, translators need feedback but also need feedback from peers, not bilingual staff. Also, this feedback accompanying the translation test results needs to be fairly and professionally delivered.

I am in favor of an ethical translation test, conducted by translation companies or other organizations that hire translators. The review of the tests must be in the hands of peers having no affiliation with the translation service provider administering the test; otherwise, the tested translator might think –and with reason– that the results are tainted by bias.

In addition, a standardized, ethical translation test can complement the ATA certification and benefit both translation companies and translators: everybody knows the rules, plays by the rules and abide by evidence-based decisions. Such a test can also become as valuable as a QA standard in many spaces in the language services marketplace.

What are your thoughts on the subject? If you administer translation tests, is it a chore, a necessary evil, an effective tool to hire linguists? If you are a translator, do you have examples of fair tests? Please share with us.

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Filed under Negotiations, Standard translation test, Translation test, Translation testing

The distant project manager

Quick, translators! Name your favorite project manager from one of your clients.

What? No favorites? Okay, how about naming the PM that treated you most favorably. Take your time.

Over the years, I have worked with a variety of project managers (PMs) in the language services industry, from the asinine to the eager. I don’t have a favorite PM, but I do have favorite traits that I seek in the PMs I have the opportunity to work with. Since I hate lists, you’ll have to deal with just a small bunch of brief descriptions.

1. Approachability. This means grabbing the phone to talk to your translator or editor, not just shooting emails. In the current sea of email messages, a phone call or an invitation to call you is a welcome respite and it helps to build rapport, trust…and exchange a jovial note that could make a difference in your otherwise busy day.

2. Full disclosure. An element generally related to NDAs and confidentiality of information, this is more an attitude than a check mark or obligatory note. It means that you will disclose (ie, answer and volunteer) all necessary information to your translator or language professional. This may require anticipating the needs of your translator, not just talking about word count and deadlines. Take an interest in the finer details, such as “The document is targeting young Puerto Ricans. Can you do that?” instead of “This document needs a US Spanish translation.”

3. Availability. Some of you must be using a macro to print this phrase at the end of your emails: “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to write or call.” Seriously, how many of you are quick to answer your emails, especially with project-related questions? I wonder if some PM might think: “Gee, this is a dumb question. This translator should read the instructions file I attached to the first email!” And you would be right. However, part of good customer service in any industry is the availability to answer any questions cheerfully and promptly.

4. Don’t ignore our questions. Sometimes we translators ask silly, dumb and risky questions. Sometimes we need to be put in our place because, well, some of us are just getting started in this profession and we don’t know all the boundaries. A risky or nosy question for me –as a translator– would be “Is the editor who is going to work with me a properly trained translator?” That question may be obnoxious and provocative in tone. Think for a second, however, that it just might be a request for information, not an indictment on your company’s screening procedures. If you choose to ignore our questions, we’ll keep asking them until satisfied.

5. Respect our role. We are thankful that you chose us to do this project. You sure have a good taste in translators! However, please, please do not second guess our work. We are trained professionals, we do the research, we know why we chose this particular word over that one. We appreciate that you know some Danish or Spanish but do not try to play translator with us. I personally don’t like to pull university degrees with my PMs simply because it’s gauche and just the wrong approach. I had to do it only once, however, in the past 5 years, because the PM insisted on second guessing his client and telling me how to write a certain passage in the translation. To the PMs out there who are nervously fretting over what the translator might or might write, remember: you chose us to do the translation, please do not micromanage us.

Now, I’ll do some crossover. If you liked the above content, I am sure you will appreciate the blog postings of a company owner who works with translators, Grace Bosworth, at http://global2localcommunications.com/category/blog/

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Filed under Customer relationship, Customers, Project Management, Project Manager