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Translation: Behind the Scenes

Translation: Behind the Scenes

Today we ask Philippine, our Project Manager, some questions about her role and the process she adheres to in order to get her work done. Philippine has been working with us for more than 2 years now, so she’s without a doubt the most appropriate person to talk to on all things relating to translation management. 😉

1. “Do you think it’s important to study translation specifically in order to become a Project Manager in this field? What specific qualities do you think are a plus for this role?”

“Yes, I think it is really important. Being a project manager in the field of translation/localisation requires a particular methodological approach and a certain degree of organisational skill. I learned all of the appropriate methodology in college. These weren’t innate skills I had from the outset, so that academic background has been extremely useful.”

2. “Can you take us through the schedule of your typical day?”

“The first thing I do in the morning is open my Skype account to check all of my new and unread messages. I need to sift through these to identify any important points or urgent queries before getting on with other tasks. Through trial and error, we discovered that chatting with our translators and clients via Skype was one of the quickest and easiest ways of getting things done, as it allows us to be in constant contact inside working hours and it’s as easy as the click of a mouse.
Once I’ve opened my mails in the morning, I respond to them one by one. I never tell myself that I will get back to something later as, if I do so, it’s likely that I will forget because other issues will surely arise throughout the course of the day.
After going through all of these, I open our collective workload document in order to check in with ongoing projects and keep up to date on the ones that the translators on our team will submit to me on that same day. Looking through the workload doc, I make note of what I will get done during the working day. This depends on the particular project’s due date, which is also indicated within the document itself. I must remember to mark it on the doc when projects are finished and subsequently delivered to the client.
All this needs to be taken care of while taking into account that I am likely to be interrupted multiple times by our translators who need me to resolve issues or by both new and existing clients who send me material to be taken care of. The essential thing is knowing how to multi-task and remain organised. That is the key to a successful working day as Project Manager.”

3. “How do you select translators for long-term collaborations and for each specific project?”

“When looking for a new translator to join our team, I begin by reading their CV and checking out their profile on specialised platforms, as well as professional networks such as LinkedIn. If I like what I see and I feel they would be an asset to us, I call them via telephone or via skype to ask them a few questions regarding their experience, their credentials and their suitability for the job. If, having completed these stages, I feel that they are serious and credible, I ask for an example of some translation work they have done in the past.”

4. “Before getting started with a project and briefing the translators, what exchanges do you need to have with the client?”

“Before proceeding with anything, we will need to create or update the termbase (terminological base – a glossary of keywords and/or recurring technical terminology that a translator will require in order to work on a particular client’s translation projects). This is done once the document to be translated is read for the first time. On the client’s end, our point of contact will have to take some time to explain complicated terms and their contexts to us in order to find the best and most suitable translation. This takes into account not only the technicality of language, but also the terminology that certain clients prefer in line with their company’s branding or messaging. Sometimes, if they already have the most appropriate translation at hand, they will give it to us directly then and there.”

5. “When a translator has finished and delivered their work, what is the next step on the project management side?”

“Once a translator has submitted a completed translation, the next vital phase in the process is proofreading. As the name would suggest, this consists of methodically reading through the text several times to ensure its adequacy and to look for any errors relating to grammar, punctuation or spelling. Sometimes, as a Project Manager, when you proofread, you may feel like one word is better suited to a particular sentence than another one chosen by the translator. You may wish to modify a sentence or change a word here or there. Not because the translator was “wrong”, so to speak, but because what you have in mind may be more adapted to the context. That being said, as with every other phase in the process, communication is key. At times, you’ll have a doubt regarding a choice made by a translator, and by staying in contact, you can check in with them to ask them and get an idea of the logic behind their choice. This exchange is important before ultimately concluding on what is the best option, with the goal of remaining tonally coherent, among other things.”

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