Increasing the quality assurance budget sounds like the antidote to linguistic quality problems, but let’s play devil’s advocate. Every dollar you spend on linguistic quality assurance (LQA) is a dollar you can’t spend translating content. Lower volumes, fewer content types, fewer target markets: is localization quality a bigger problem than lost revenues?
Before you increase your LQA budget, these quality management tips will help you control the size of your LQA effort, reduce time spent on quality passes, reallocate LQA spend to localization, and get the best quality result for your business needs.
1) Map quality to content type.
Let’s face it: some content types need to be “more perfect” than others in terms of linguistic quality, accuracy, and/or creativity. Marketing content needs to be effective and persuasive. Legal and technical content needs to be accurate and clear. How-to content needs to be understandable, but users will tolerate awkward phrasing as long as it gets the point across.
2) Be proactive and clear about your expectations.
What constitutes “quality” depends entirely upon context, but stakeholders may have a hard time explaining what they need. “I know it when I see it” is a common yet entirely unhelpful way to define quality. Globalization owners can lead the conversation with stakeholders about the content’s target audience, its purpose, what’s at stake if the content doesn’t achieve its purpose, and what constitutes a significant error. Once you articulate the precise requirements for each content type, your localization vendor can develop strategies to meet your requirements cost-effectively within your budget.
3) Check out what’s in a word rate.
For materials that can bear lower quality, have your vendors provide pricing for translation only. Most vendors also include edit and proof in the word rate. If the price does include translation, edit and proof (TEP), then you probably don’t need to layer your own QA pass on top of it for lower priority content.
4) Review only a subset of your materials.
If there are no known issues in your content, or if you have determined that it’s not high-priority content, then don’t waste your money checking all of it. If it’s not important for you to catch every single error, then a sample should be enough, say 10 percent.
5) Prioritize for market size.
If your market opportunity is higher in France than in Indonesia, then by all means, spend more time reviewing the French content.
6) Study your peers.
Does linguistic quality level vary by language or by content type in your industry segment? Market research could reveal your segment’s best practices for linguistic quality levels, and help you gauge, meet, and/or exceed user expectations as appropriate.
7) Look at user behavior.
How do in-country users interact with your content? What type of content do your users really need? For example, do very high human support costs like phone and chat services suggest that your knowledge base translations are weak? Do your users want only online support content? Do your users post and use a lot of reviews when making purchasing decisions? Focus your efforts on improving the content with the highest business impact.
8) Guide the process.
Quality is improved with style guides, strong TMs, and glossaries and quality automations. These tools reduce errors and save time. If you have these assets and processes in place, then translations will be of higher quality in the first place, and your need for QA will go down.
Keep in mind that specific content types will always require specialized resources or processes. Low-quality content can turn people away from your product or not connect with them at all. You can’t cut corners on quality if it defeats the purpose of translating content in the first place.
If you’re interested in fresh approaches to language quality, you should check out two excellent articles in the December 2014 issue of Multilingual Magazine: Rebecca Ray’s “The linguistic quality paradox” and Attila Görög’s “Evaluating quality in translation.” (You can get a free subscription to Multilingual just by registering for a Moravia webinar.)
What cost-effective quality improvement tactics have helped you solve language quality problems?