Finding a translation reviewer in global regions challenges companies of all shapes and sizes. Top-notch, in-country reviewers are hard to find. Most individuals tasked with translation reviews already have full-time jobs, may not be language or subject-matter experts, and often feel as though extra work has been dumped upon them for no benefit of their own. The result is often subpar or uninformed review feedback, as well as project delays due to schedule conflicts and disenchanted reviewers.
However, while finding engaged, effective, in-country reviewers presents a challenge, it’s not impossible. We’ve identified seven core characteristics that make up a quality global translation reviewer. The ideal individual should be:
1. A native speaker
You may have contacts who live down the street and speak French as a second language. Why can’t they perform the French reviews of your content? Well, are they experts in your industry, niche, and/or vertical? Are they up to speed on current language use and cultural nuances in your space? Have they spent significant time in France consistently over the past several years? Likely the answer to all of these questions is “no.” To ensure your communications are disseminated using the current, accurate voice for your brand and industry in the target market, it’s important your reviewers not only live in the target region, but are also native speakers of the local language and have a deep understanding of the market and your brand.
2. Fluent in English
It’s absolutely critical that your in-country review resources speak English as well as the target language. Translation quality can be judged only when compared to the original English content (or when compared to the intent or messaging behind the original English). Only individuals who truly comprehend written English will be able to accurately judge translation quality, provide helpful feedback, and improve upon translations if necessary.
3. Appropriately educated and trained
What type of content do you need reviewed? If it’s technical content, it’s always best to find an individual with a technical background. Creative or editorial copy is similarly best reviewed by someone with a history in creative writing or marketing. It’s never a good idea to have a marketer review your legal or HR content. The goal here is to find people who understand what type of present-day terminology, tone, and style should be applied to your content in their market.
4. Challenge enthused
Typically, staff members tasked with reviewing translations already have full-time jobs. If you’re going to enlist those who are already at maximum capacity, it’s important they have a can-do attitude. This ensures they have a better chance of being successful in this potentially overwhelming situation. You want to find someone who is always up for a challenge, is willing to wear many hats, is focused and works efficiently, and who feels invested in getting high-quality local language content deployed sooner rather than later. If this sounds like somewhat of a rare-white-buffalo situation, and you need a plan B, look for other qualified people you know who have some availability in their current roles.
The reality is most individuals who have availability in their current roles are likely to be new (or newer) to the company. These staff members aren’t the best equipped to perform language reviews because they are likely still learning the language of your brand and your company in their market. Individuals who have been with the company for 1 year or more will be better able to judge translation suitability against local standards and goals.
6. Technologically savvy
Translation reviews can occur in many different file formats – be it Word, Excel, PDF, or in a web browser. It’s important your reviewers understand how to track changes or mark revisions in a variety of formats. If they aren’t experts, don’t sweat it. Just ensure you select mindful individuals who take care to read instructions. In addition, language reviews are often planned and coordinated via language service providers’ proprietary workflow management systems. In-country reviewers must feel comfortable navigating through new web interfaces, reading briefs or instructions, downloading and uploading files, and providing feedback in the appropriate manner.
In-country review can often be a bottleneck or actual stopping point for some projects. Be sure to select individuals who are punctual, even if punctuality isn’t the cultural norm. These individuals are more likely to efficiently make necessary edits to translations rather than spend hours converting the text to match their personal style. Massive amounts of subjective stylistic changes can often derail a project’s timeline. Ensure you communicate why you need the reviewed translations back in the indicated timeframe, and how that will benefit them, their market, and your consumers in their territory.
Can’t find staff in each of your global regions that meet these criteria? Think outside of the box. What about a retired employee, a brand advocate (easily identifiable via social media), or a loyal customer? Or talk to your localization provider about flexible, in-country resource models that work as an extension to your internal teams. See the Common Sense Advisory’s recent blog post with tips for taking control of client language reviews, or download the complete 2015 research on rethinking client language reviews.