Review Gone Out of Control? Focus Your In-Country Reviewers
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Review Gone Out of Control? Focus Your In-Country Reviewers

Before your translation goes live you want to give your in-country colleague a chance to look it over. They don’t have a lot of time to do this – their day job gets in the way – but they add value because of their location in-market and because of how deeply they know the product and the brand. Unfortunately, they end up spending a lot of time, the ‘discussion’ between them and the translator gets contentious, and no one is sure who is ‘rightor’ who gets the final decision. You don’t want anyone to waste their time and now you, the review and the vendor are all involved in re-thinking the translation.

Soon, you face missing deadline because so much of the material is now up in the air.

Things can easily spin out of control. There are 5 things you can do to make in-country review happen more smoothly. Next time.

  1. Define preferential changes. This might be the single largest stumbling block. A preferential change fixes something that isn’t wrong. The reviewer may change the writing style, offer a synonym, change word order, move or delete content. Importantly, the vendor is not responsible for fixing these things – because they aren’t actually wrong. While you may want to allow preferential changes, the reviewer needs to understand the big picture. Otherwise, this this can be a major area of contention.
  2. Give them instructions. Instructions can save someone time, limit the churn and make the job easier. For example, how should comments be noted down? What should the reviewer focus on (typos, mistranslations, faithfulness to the English source) versus ignore (word order)? Are there any references they should use, such as a glossary? Some reviewers may also appreciate a form to fill out.
  3. Set up an arbitration process. If the reviewer and the translator do not agree on a change, then someone has to smooth it out and make the final call. Both parties deserve their say. This can’t be done quickly  without facilitation. You would not put them in touch directly to duke this out; more likely a linguistic services manager would respond to each and make the decision based on published style conventions, company style guides and glossary lists.
  4. Provide them with the English. If a reviewer does not have the original as a reference, it is hard to know if the translation is a parallel rendering. It is also possible that a reviewer will rewrite a section just because they don’t like it. If they have the English to compare it to, these issues can be avoided.
  5. Define quality. An avoidable issue that we see over and over is that quality has not been defined. Make sure, before any translation has occurred, that all stakeholders understand what quality target you are shooting for. I recently blogged on Buyer-Side Reasons we see for poor linguistic quality.

Most reviewers will appreciate some guardrails like this. They will not be guessing on the work to be done, they know their time is being respected, and they know their comments will be heard. In-country reviewers are very rarely linguists. It is unrealistic and unfair to expect that they intuitively know what and how to review.

What methods have you used to make partner in-country review go more smoothly? If you are a reviewer, how have guidelines like this affected your work and your attitude towards it?