Dating Websites, Black Boxes and Translation Quality

It’s all about the match. Most translation quality programs are focused on review cycles with some clients saying it represents 25% of their budget. Many translation workflows involve an unknown translator on the other side of a black box. It is the equivalent of a blind date and then a counseling session to explain why the date didn’t go well. Not the best experience and not very efficient.

If we want to improve the translation experience, we need to change our way of thinking, and we need to start at the beginning rather than the end. Yes, this is an old idea. We have been talking about controlled authoring and better content management for years. It’s always been about the translation artifacts with a focus on the “words”. This is necessary; however, what’s next? What if the next phase was about the people involved on both sides of the equation with a focus on their user experience?

Let’s start with the all-important project manager (PM). Translation veterans know the PM is critical to positive outcomes. Our industry is notorious for overworking PMs. Ask a PM why their day is always so hectic and they will tell you a leading cause is unpredictability. There are too many surprises – both from clients and from translators. Take a PM whose day is not so hectic and ask them why and the answer most often is better organization. What does better organization really mean?

In the dating website context, I think it means the PM is more enabled as a relationship manager armed with information to make the ideal match instead of spending the day as a “file pusher.” It means the PM has flexible systems at their fingertips to match client meta-data to specific translator meta-data, in real-time across connected systems – interoperability. It means no more black boxes at any point in the translation process and no more technology walled gardens. It means talking more about the people in the process rather than the “words” in the process. It means talent management and matching rather than traditional vendor management.

Next month, we are hosting our LocLeaders Forum event. It will take place in Dublin, Wednesday, June 4 alongside the Localization World 2014 conference. The Welocalize LocLeaders events are attended by localization leaders from global brands sharing and engaging in interesting, open debates. I will be kicking off the day and participating in the panel discussions. Translation quality is one of the ongoing topics in our industry and we’ll be talking about it at our “Reaching Impact” LocLeaders Forum.


Smith Yewell, CEO, Welocalize