Note: This blog post was originally written in Japanese for our Japanese website. We used our machine translation platform Translation Designer to translate it and post-edit the content in English. The original Japanese post can be found here.
Since translation is a made-to-order service, translation companies plan the process and assign translators after receiving a request from clients. Therefore, it is necessary to devise ways to shorten the turnaround time.
In this post, we will share some methods to speed up the process and get your translation done faster.
Take advantage of translation memory
That means while translating with CAT tools, we store pairs of original and translated text in a database called a translation memory. A translation memory can contribute to improving the work efficiency and shortening turnaround times. It is the most effective when revising a document repeatedly, or when translating documents with similar structure and use on a regular basis. We can create a translation memory at the same time as the translation work, but it is also possible to create it manually at a later time.
If you're currently looking for a translation company to work with, it's a good idea to ask them about how they manage translation memories.
Have multiple translators work simultaneously
When planning the translation work, translation companies estimate the number of translators required according to the volume of the document and the client's preference. If you can work with multiple translators at the same time, it's possible to shorten the turnaround time in proportion to the number of translators.
At Kawamura International, there is a rough guideline for a work plan. For instance, a software online help document with 100K words can be handled by 3 to 4 translators in about 20 business days for English-to-Japanese translation, including the quality assurance process. This is just for translation and does not include any layout work. Using this as a guideline, we make adjustments in the number of translators and schedule simultaneous work processes as much as possible to meet the client's requirements.
However, there are limits to this adjustment. To give an extreme example, you might want to bring in 100 translators to shorten the work period to the limit. By doing so, the translation work will be completed within a few days. Unfortunately, there are consequences of mobilizing a large number of translators that does not match the amount of work. It will take an awful lot of time to manage the team along with many hours to check the consistency in the finished translation, increasing the risk of deteriorating the overall quality.
Therefore, it is obvious that such an extreme adjustment is not realistic. In case the requested delivery date exceeds the scope of our adjustment, we will propose a shorter schedule by removing a certain process or by offering different service levels. (We will cover this later in the post in section "Other services and service levels.")
Manage translation projects on the cloud and accelerate work speed
Translation work using CAT tools is often performed on the cloud. Working on translation using the cloud is compatible with simultaneous work by multiple translators, and you can expect the following benefits.
|1. Reducing the number and amount of time of physical file transfers between project managers and translators.
2. Updating and sharing glossaries and style guides in real time.
3. Accumulating translated sentences in the translation memory on the cloud in real time and increasing the speed to build the translation memory.
Let's explain more about what the last one means. The translated text stored in a translation memory are your information asset that can be partially or fully utilized in future translation projects. With a translation memory, you can automatically check if a sentence to be translated has already been translated in the past and reuse it. This will definitely help speed up the work.
However, this mechanism also has a disadvantage. If an incorrect translation is stored, this means it also carries the risk of spreading this error to the entire document and future projects. This risk increases as the number of people involved in the translation work increases. That is why excessively increasing the number of translators is dangerous.
Still, translation work on the cloud has great advantages, and it's already an indispensable work environment for everyone in the translation industry.
Other services and service levels
If you need your translation ASAP and speed is the top priority, you might also want to consider the following services. We're going to be using our service names and while others may call them differently, most translation companies have similar services.
In our standard translation service, we conduct a bilingual review after a document has been translated. For the draft translation service, we skip this review process and are able to shorten the lead time by up to 50% compared to the standard process of ISO 17100, an international standard for translation services. If you plan to do a bilingual review on your own or don't need this process in the first place, you can choose this service to complete the translation with priority on turnaround time.
Machine translation with post-editing
If you just need the machine translation output, in most cases we can respond within 1 business day after your request. (If you're thinking, "Hey, I can do that myself," always keep in mind the risks of using free machine translation services. Translation companies like us have a secure environment to protect your data.)
However, needless to say, the accuracy of a raw machine translation output is inferior to the draft translation service mentioned above. Therefore, it is not considered suitable for documents that you will be providing externally. For example, user guides for your customers or blogs posts that are published to the public.
So, when is a good time to use machine translation? We suggest using it in cases where the usage and scope of impact are limited. For instance, when you're just using the document for reference such as understanding the outline of internal documents sent from your overseas locations.
If you need machine translation daily, signing up for machine translation services is an option. We also provide platforms to use machine translation on your own. In recent years, we have been seeing more companies sign up and try to do the work in-house.
When the quality of raw machine translation output is not enough, there is a service called post-editing. In this service, our linguists edit the output of machine translation to improve the accuracy of the translation. With the post-editing service, while reducing the cost and lead time with machine translation, it's possible to bring the translation quality closer to that of human translation.
In this post, we shared some methods to speed up the translation process.
These are the approaches that translation companies actually consider when providing a quote for a translation request. If you're working with a translation company and feel that the suggested lead time is too long, you might want to bring up these points and consult with them.
Kawamura's translation services
- How can we lower the costs and speed up the translation while maintaining quality?
- What are the best available deliverables within our budget?
- Is it possible to have the translation done ASAP?
Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions like these or even just general questions in mind!