Friday, September 28, 2012

6-Sigma Methodology in Translation – A Panic Proof Approach

Here at PLG, we believe that being transparent about our work is something that makes us unique. Honesty and morality is something that our company takes great pride in, and bringing assurance and satisfaction to the client is what we ultimately strive for.

In our 20-year history as a translation service provider, over one million jobs, large and small, have been delivered. Overall, 95% of our jobs have been accepted by our clients without questioning the translation, while about 5% do have some level of input, generally feedback coming from the clients’ foreign language speaking staff. If I can be brutally honest, we have had a couple of occasions where our work was completely and categorically rejected, which even the best-in-class competitors in the industry also experience. At the receipt of the translation, these customers have panicked and have decided on spot that our company was not best suited to be their translation service provider without an in-depth review of the situation. I would like to share with you our suggestions for how to react when this happens, from a translation user’s perspective (not the translator’s). It is best to follow a well-known 6-Sigma process, DMAICC, to resolve the issue, i.e. produce the best translation possible for the current job and help you to make the right decision on future translation vendor selection.   

Implementation of DMAICC methodology

D-Define: Carefully collect the reviewer’s input and feedback. Confirm the presence of the issue. Do not accept any conclusions or opinions without evidence. While ideally the whole document should be reviewed, one or two pages of editing from the reviewer can be sufficient.

M-Measure: How bad is the situation? Are more than 60% of the translations rejected or have only 5% received some form of edits?

A-Analysis: Why have the translations been revised? Carelessness on the part of the translator? The translator seems unfamiliar to the specific industry terms? Style or word preference choices? Or worse: translation by an unqualified translator?

I-Investigate: 3rd party professional review (can often be paid by the original translation provider depending on the gravity of the problem). Make sure the editing is made with “track changes” and shared with both the reviewer and the first translator.

C1-Confinement (for this project): Have the original translator review and incorporate the editing to the job in question. Complete the current project with 2 translators’ collaboration.

C2-Control (for future projects): Decide if the current vendor will continue to provide translation services or if you will choose to switch to an alternative.  Your decision now is fact-based and educated.  

If the procedures above are followed, the translations will be improved. This result comes from the hard work and clear communication of a team of people, including the client, PLG project managers, the translators and editors.

Eric Zhang, our Mangaging Director, also heads our Chinese Interpreting and Chinese Business Consulting Services. To find out more about Eric, please visit his PLG company profile.

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