In this article we describe, referencing the standard Translation Project Management process, internal and external human resource aspects in an MLV, from the main aspects of linguistic production to the selection and formation of personnel.
Production flow and Human Resources
Selection process and contraction
Multilingual Translation companies offer their clients full management of their localization and Translation needs from any Language to another with all the technological expertise necessary to make the final product. This often involves the replication of products per geographical region. Multilingual language company clients often lack the necessary resources to redistribute their product in regions or markets, against the single language company model where the client has many local offices for the distribution. Put simply, the translation and localization process can be handled at local office level or the central office as is the case of the multilingual translation company model. With the MLV model the client depends on its supplier to manage all aspects of the process with very high expectations due to the MLVs expertise: The benefits of this model are minimal technical and linguistic complications and maximum standardization of their localized product within a very small time frame. We are no longer in the times where multinationals released their products on different regional markets on a gradual basis. Now the client can expect SIM ship releases of their products which means a simultaneous release of their product onto various regional markets.
To confront this challenge the multilingual Translation companies incorporate a team of professionals with different skill sets for example sales agents, Project managers, project analysts, translators of various languages, Desk top publishing specialists, localization engineers, etc. Depending on the production and management model chosen by an MLV the group must guarantee the standardization of the localized product across the whole production process, in other words all the team must be speaking on the same page. Added to this challenge is the time differences across which the different MLV resources are working in.
To guarantee efficiency and quality across all these production processes by different resources located across the globe there are two main problems the multilingual services company has to crack:
On the one hand the MLV has to identify a streamlined and integrated production and management process through the use of global management tools and the implementation of advanced information and communication technologies.
Due to the above, and the second problem, this implies that there has to be continuous re-training and formation of the various personnel located across the globe in diverse teams from Europe and America to Asia. It also implies a coherent and optimal selection of personal in the diverse specialized areas with minimum disruption to the production cycle. This also involves the complicated process of external resource selection and monitoring their performance.
Along with the new demand from clients for more visibility and traceability of their products during the localization cycle and more control over their localized content the MLV has had to face yet another challenge, the use of Translation assisted tools such as machine Translation tools, Translation memory environments and automatic Project management tools. Without doubt the ability of the MLV to compete is influenced by the amount of investment and the degree of success to which they have implemented these ever changing tools.
In this article we will describe, making reference to the standard Project management process, the most relevant internal and external human resource factors, from their selection to their training and development.
Work and Human Resource Flow
Once the client has chosen his supplier and the Project is in process, he uses the following principal resources: Project manager, Translation Manager, Lead translator and Translator:
PROJECT MANAGER (PM)
The role of the translation project manager can differ from one multilingual translation company to another but their main function is to be the connection point between the various resources of a Project. On one side they liaise with the client to find out their specifications and expectations, budget and delivery schedule. They then have to guide the project through the various tasks liaising with the various resources responsible for those tasks, right through to completion while all the while ensuring that the workloads have been realistic and the project is delivered meeting the client’s quality, budget and deadline expectations.
It often happens that the client may change the budget or specifications of the project while in the production phase. It is the responsibility of the PM to ensure that these changes are implemented with minimal fuss without affecting the production cycle or the budgetary constraints within reason. It is also their responsibility to coordinate the resources that have been chosen for the project. Typically this may involve a translation team, engineering team, publishing team, testers and evaluation team, etc. The main task of the PM is to make the end product of each production phase available for the next phase. This may involve transmitting vital information to the relevant resource at the best time during the production cycle. The PM ensures that each resource completes his process or task on time and to budget thus ensuring the overall success of the project.. The PM also filtrates information back to the client in the most efficient and timely manner for example queries from translators or technical problems encountered by the engineers which need input from the client.
The Translation is the boss of the Translation department. He has overall responsibility of the translators in the translation company and guarantees the linguistic quality of the work produced by the department, including texts that are sub-contracted to freelancers external to the company. He is also responsibility for the feasibility of projects undertaken from within and outside the department. He is involved in the planning of all projects and ensures that all projects run smoothly using the most efficient and economical methodology and processes. It is important to ensure that all department members are working at their optimal capacity and that control and quality measures are working correctly. He or she must also monitor each department member efficiently to ensure their performance is optimal, they are up to speed with the company processes and also their personal development and motivation flourishes. The updating of department processes and technologies should be a collective department process guided by the translation manager.
There is a lead translator for every project Language assigned on leadership skills and experience. When there is regular work from a client it is advised to have a stable translation team with the same lead translator. This saves time when recurrent linguistic issues arise. The lead translator is responsible for the final linguistic quality of the project, all the components such as the glossary, software, help, documentation, establishing stylistic norms and standard terminology. Normally he revises the work of the other project translators to ensure that this goal is achieved and resolves technical problems (translation Memory and terminology issues, etc.). He is the bridging point between the translators and the Project Manager, the lead desk top Publisher and lead engineer and selects and analyses the freelancers chosen for the project if one is hired.
SELECTION AND CONTRACTION PROCESS
The MLVs always offer the translators the opportunity to work in different positions giving them the opportunity to specialize in their preferred area thus motivating them more. This may be a field of specialization for their particular Language combination or an unrelated Translation position such as:
Management of Translation projects
Linguistic and functional testing on various platforms
Audio recording positions
Terminology Management (creation and maintenance of multilingual glossaries)
Selection of Translators
The recruitment of translators requires a standardized process. From receipt of C.Vs and aptitude tests to the interview stage and training after hire the Translation Company must maintain standardized recruitment processes while at the same time adapting to the local laws and legislation where the staff are being hired.
Standardization can be guaranteed in the following aspects:
· The information the candidate receives
· The aptitude tests (Translation and revision tests) and the evaluation. This includes the methodology of the tests and the formulas used to calculate the results.
· Ensuring the candidate is anonymous for the aptitude test thus ensuring results are objective
· Results feedback to the candidates
The following people are involved in the recruitment process:
Recruitment manager: This person publishes adds and gathers the relevant C.Vs according to the specifications per language. Universities are a very good source of recruitment and its important for the translation company to maintain good relations with the various education centers where there may be potential candidates. This close relationship is also beneficial in that it can enhance and develop new technologies and methodologies in the localization sector.
The distribution of MLV offices often complicates the registration of candidates and for this it is better to have a centralized Database.
Translation manager: The Translation manager who conducts the evaluation of the tests selects the best candidates and is also involved in the interview process..
Line manager: also assists at the interviews and is involved in the final selection process.
The revision and Translation tests are the same throughout all the world wide offices of the multilingual Translation Company. During the selection process it is handy to do two tests: 1 external by email and if this is passed the second at the company offices. Both tests are evaluated by senior translators or a line manager in that language. During the test it is important to establish the following:
· The linguistic quality of the candidate: written quality of the target translation, terminology knowledge and translation methodology.
· Comprehension of the source language, both in general and specific terms of the company fields.
· Capacity to resolve problems in the translation, documentation and deadlines.
The objective of the test is to ensure that the translator is familiar with certain materials. It is done at home. The focus of the test is on quality as opposed to speed.
Once the first test is passed there is an in-house test. Again the format of the test is the same across all the translation company branches. Here the focus of the test is not only on linguistic quality but also on the adherence to deadlines and instructions.
The evaluation or correction format is based on a standard formula
The interview process be it face to face or telephone should be supported by a series of processes and documentation:
· There should be a standard list of questions
· There should also be a formula for objectively evaluating the answers of the candidate.
· There should be a formal description of the post with clear guidelines of the specifications of the job plus the skills and expectations required from the candidate
WHAT IS SOUGHT FOR IN THE CANDIDATE
There are three important prerequisites that the translator should have:
1. Linguistic Excellence
2. Capacity to work in a team
The Translation teams must work in harmony to ensure linguistic quality and smooth production flow. The training efforts of the company should be directed in this area and try to ensure that the new translators comply with the quality and production standards established by the company within a year.
Training should include the following:
· Organizational structure of the company and different roles of each department
· General Procedures such as dress code and time management, right and obligations of the employees
· Processes specific to the department such as workflows, Project management software, process documents related to the Translation procedure and the interaction process between the different departments
· Technology: Translation Memory and internal translation tool Use.
· Style and Quality: Style Guide of the company and the main clients. Quality controls, query process and correction process
Once the training has been complete there should be an appraisal system in place to not only monitor the progress of the employee but also their development. This may include:
· Identifying other training needs
· Monitoring performance
· Establishing objectives and renovating objectives once achieved
SELECTION OF FREELANCERS
During very busy periods when the workload is too much for internal staff the Translation company needs a data Base of quality external translators.
The evaluation of the freelancers follows the same format as the evaluation of the internal employees, although there may be extra criteria for correction of the aptitude tests bearing in mind there will be no training: the freelancer must be fully trained already in the field they will be translating. This evaluation is conducted by a Senior translator.
All the selected freelancers must be logged in a central database under the field and specialty they have been chosen for. The database should contain the following information on the freelancer
· Contact details, prices, qualifications and aptitude tests.
· Current projects and availability.
It is very important to record the progress of the freelancer in the database. This includes information such as the adherence to deadlines, linguistic quality and capability of resolving issues. This helps to avoid problems on future projects.
The whole recruitment, training and monitoring of staff in a multilingual Translation services company is the core of the business. As new markets open and technological advances continue at a fast pace it is of the ultimate importance for the MLV to keep up with these advances with regard to recruitment in order to stay competitive.