Our workflow

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Dear Reader,

We like to share our workflow with clients to permit them a better understanding of how we process projects. Another reason for sharing our approach is to give customers the opportunity to assess if our approach to work is compatible. We improve our methods continuously and have a fixed standard operating procedure (SOP) in place. Our workflow complies with ISO 17100:2015 by the International Organization for Standardization; moreover, we have additional measures in place to improve quality. Small deviations may occur whenever we deal with agencies or process work from colleagues, but we will not elaborate on them further since they, unlike our customers, tend to be familiar with these processes.

Step 1. We get contacted by the client and evaluate the project

We start by verifying all the received files for functionality. Once we have established that they work, we assess the source language content and determine its subjective quality by reading it for flow as well as coherence and its objective quality by using software tools that check for grammatical issues. We also confirm the word count and compatibility of the files with our computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool. The end of step one has us in possession of the assessed project files.

We are happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), if required, before receiving any material.

Step 2. We report our findings and ask questions 

We communicate our analysis to the client and, if not already expressed in the initial email, find out the target audience (active vs passive voice, formal vs informal), plus the locale we must use for the target language content. We also clarify technical questions like the deliverable file format, requirement to preserve the layout, option to utilise a term base or translation memory from previous translations or whether the customer has a specific list with terms that we can integrate. Our goal for step two is to have eliminated as much ambiguity as possible.

Step 3. We compile a quote or service-level agreement (SLA)

The next step is to summarise the gathered information in a quote, which includes the proposed price, date of delivery and services provided. Depending on project size and familiarity with the client, an SLA is written up to specify the scope of work further. The customer then has all the information in writing and can confirm the awarding of the project, which, in turn, we will affirm by email. By the end of step three, we have formed a written contract with the client.

Step 4. We prepare the project

Once confirmed, we assign each job a unique project identity (UPID). Afterwards, we create the necessary folder structure, upload the files to our CAT tool, and attach the relevant term bases in addition to translation memories. The familiarity with the subject matter dictates how much time we need to invest in reading up on a topic before we can start the translation. We tend to research as much as time permits before starting a new assignment and save the material depending on the project size either on our CAT tool or a separate note management tool. Step four marks the end of our preparation and allows us to start the translation, editing, or proofreading.

The preparation required when editing or proofreading depends on whether it is a monolingual or bilingual review.

Step 5. We translate

We check any client provided terms and add them to the assigned term base. This procedure ensures correct use as well as consistency. Next, we open up all resources that will assist in the translation in separate windows, for example, monolingual or bilingual dictionaries, glossaries, journal articles, textbooks, or style guides as well as support materials provided by the customer. We start the translation and record all errors we encounter, questions we have, or issues that remain in the CAT tool as well as our project report. If possible, we clarify ambiguous content with the client or author while the translation is ongoing. We further control for quality during this process by using various grammar checking tools. The last step of the translation process involves running the CAT tool’s built-in quality assurance (QA). It compares the source to the target text and helps us identify any issues which are hard to spot, like leading spaces, trailing spaces, missing numbers, or inconsistencies. At the end of step five, we have finished the entire translation, and it is ready for post-production.

We tend to collaborate on most translations in real-time; exceptions occur if the project is small or one of us is more familiar with the subject matter.

Step 6. We edit

Once we have completed the translation, one of us starts a bilingual revision and checks the target against the source text for accuracy, completeness, and terminology. We continue with a monolingual review, along with editing of the target text, followed by a correction for flow and language use appropriate to the subject. By now, any answered questions are incorporated into the translation. If possible, we like to leave this process to the next day since it enables us to tackle our writing with a clear head. The end of step six provides us with an accurate text that is free of contextual errors.

Projects that only require proofreading are processed using track changes with which we leave comments for the client/translator providing the rationale for each of our amendments. We do not use track changes or leave comments in our translations.

Step 7. We proofread

Next, we download the target file and read it once more for flow. We check the entire text for spelling mistakes one last time and incorporate any corrections into our CAT tool. Step seven leaves us with a translation free of orthographical errors.

Projects that only require proofreading are processed using track changes with which we leave comments for the client/translator providing the rationale for each of our amendments. We do not use track changes or leave comments in our translations.

Step 8. We conduct the final check

In the last phase of post-production, we review the visual layout of the source against the target text. Here, we check that the font types, size, and style are matching. We note any inconsistencies of the source in our project report. By the end of step eight, we have the final product at hand and can deliver it to the customer. This step marks the end of the post-production process.

Step 9. We finalise the project report

We conclude all our findings in the project report to which we have assigned a UPID at the beginning. It documents any issues in the source, serves as a written account of the communication during the project, and highlights all remaining problems for the customer to review. It provides both parties with quantifiable evidence concerning the quality of the source and the target text. Step nine leaves us with a summary of the entire process in a single document.

Not all projects warrant a project report.

Step 10. We conclude the project

We deliver the files and project report to the client. The customer now has the opportunity to review the translation and provide us with the final feedback. We integrate any changes into the files as well as our CAT tool for future references. We will invoice the project once the client has approved its completion via email. Step ten marks the end of the project.

All our processes are under continues scrutiny – we amend, change, add, or remove steps as we see fit. Our primary goal is to combine the rigorous standards of academic writing in science and apply them to the business world in a sensible manner. For this, we approach each project with a holistic view and support our customers in finding the best balance between cost, quality, and speed.

With kind regards,
Dénis and Lea