Ensuring successful client reviews!

The review cycle
As I was going through some of my 2017 issues of Multilingual Magazines, I found this article by Adam Wooten, localization consultant and trainer, which I think is particulary relevant. I would like to share some of the content about the review cycle with our readers, as we continue to face the same issues today!

In the article, Wooten explains: “If you hired people to paint your house, would you tell them which shade of paint you wanted before they completed the work, or after? Logically, you would communicate your preferences beforehand. Or, if you had no strong preference, but your spouse did, you would involve your spouse from the start to determine the preferred colors, shades and sheens“.

This sounds so obvious but in our translation world, when it comes to client reviews, this logical order doesn’t seem to apply. Even today, we are often confronted with situations where, as described in the article, “client reviews are still more of an afterthought that do not follow the common sense that would be used to evaluate a paint job”.

What we, as translation professionals, are trying to explain through this paint analogy is that confirming subjective paint preferences after a job is done, leads to unnecessary reworking, extra costs and unplanned delays. Similarly, when client reviewers fail to express their preferences from the beginning (by providing reference materials, for instance), the client and the translation professional spend unnecessary time and money on making changes to a good translation simply because personal preferences were not made known beforehand. As the paint analogy shows: “This can be as bad as repainting a recently well-painted house simply because the preferred shade was not identified beforehand”.

The review cycle should not be considered as a last-minute afterthought. Reviewers must play an active role from the beginning. How?

On the client side
The client reviewer needs to make time to specify terminology and style preferences before the process begins. Translation glossaries, style guides and any other approved reference materials should be shared with the translation professional before the translation project begins.

On the translation side Project managers and/or translators should always get in touch with the reviewer who is going to asses the “paint job” to identify their “preferred colors and shades” beforehand.

The reviewer
Another important aspect of client review, which is highlighted in the same article, is the fact that many clients have to rely on others to know if the desired quality has been achieved, given that the translation requester usually doesn’t understand the language in question. Consequently, “many translation requesters trust their internal reviews to non-native speakers of the target language. Similarly, in the paint analogy, it could be problematic to ask a colorblind uncle to inspect the paint job on your home.”

We come across these situations too often!  As a result, non-native reviewers will frequently introduce errors that they mistakenly believe to be improvements. Often, they also decide to rewrite content. Consequently, the target no longer matches the source.  Lastly, all this back-and-forth with the translation professional, who needs to review and correct the text to prevent such unintended errors, can slow down the process dramatically.
As the article points out, “you would have more success trusting a former construction contractor who understands the difference between semi-gloss and satin paint sheens than you would if you trusted a critique from your cousin who only dabbles in finger paints”.

Conclusion: By identifying the subjective “paint preferences” from the beginning, “subjective quality” can be achieved and unnecessary frustration and costs can be avoided.
In addition to having a solid knowledge of the subject matter, the client reviewer should also have the native ability to assess basic principles of writing and translation.

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