This post continues where we left off in our previous article, in which we discussed the benefits of CAT tools for translators, as well as translation resources, file formats, the Cloud, and machine translation. Today we will be focusing on the advantages of quality assurance and integration.
Data on the move
The days of geographic borders for business are long gone – companies are opening offices and doing business all over the world. Remote working arrangements and inter-team collaboration open up more and more opportunities for efficiency every day.
It used to be that the process of sending files out for translation was very time-intensive. Imagine a company headquartered in Tokyo with an office in California, where they keep a translation department as well. So to translate a text, the employees in Tokyo send files, translation instructions, glossaries, and preferred deadlines by email. Then their Californian colleagues confirm receipt and start working. Translation progress cannot be monitored in real time and extra “slack” must be built in to the schedule for verifying the results.
Now imagine that this company has grown! With offices in Zurich, Melbourne, and other cities, it simply does not have the time or capacity to handle translation projects.
This is one place where CAT can help! It puts on its “corporate” hat, nimbly switching from a humble productivity environment for translators into a supercharged system that integrates with corporate business processes:
- Files are sent for translation directly from the company’s content management system (CMS) or corporate portal: just seconds to start the process! For companies that handle user-created content, there are all sorts of possibilities. While some clients are sending files with product descriptions by email, other clients are already receiving the finished translation thanks to integrated workflows.
- The CAT tool allows managers to keep an eye on work in real time. Simply look at a project to see whether everything is going to plan.
- Thanks to cloud technologies in some CAT tools, multiple translators/editors/proofreaders can work on a text at the same time. Segmentation means that there will be no last-minute surprises with missing text. Previously such documents had to be divvied up between translators and then manually sewn back together. In effect, translators can now form a true team that is location-independent and free of bottlenecks.
Humans can’t be replaced by machines, but machines do have a few things going for them: they never get tired or distracted.
Have you ever started wondering about proper spelling during a long job? A key term slipped your mind? Got stuck when trying to match the formatting of the source file? CAT quality assurance options can offer a lot of help in situations such as these.
In this context, quality assurance is a system of warnings and hints. If followed, these warnings and hints prevent translation errors and flag up incorrect spelling, term use, etc. While this idea may be familiar from Microsoft Word, far from all CAT software has such capabilities. If properly implemented, quality assurance in CAT tools can make many types of mistakes a thing of the past:
- Spelling: Anyone can make “misstakes” when typing quickly!
- Terminology: Constantly flipping back and forth between a glossary and the translation text is not very convenient. Built-in glossaries remove this pain point, but they do not eliminate the risks entirely, especially when term lists are long. Quality assurance will tactfully point out any inconsistencies between the glossary and the translator’s version, leaving the final decision up to the translator.
- Formatting glitches: When loading a file into a CAT tool, the translator sees not only the newly segmented text but also tags, which contain important formatting information. If the text is a catalog with photos, it is extremely easy to miss one or two tags in an out-of-the-way spot. To make sure that no tags are lost, the system warns if tags in the translation text are missing.
- Double/extra spaces: This happens to everyone, especially when typing quickly to meet a deadline. The system will warn about superfluous spaces wherever they are found.
Just between us
There is a little secret about CAT tools – clients very rarely care how exactly translators boost their efficiency. What clients do care about is that translations are performed well and on time. CAT tools are not, and cannot be, a replacement for the professionalism and deep knowledge of a human translator. But they can offer a big leg up.
We hope that you will not be intimidated by the latest technologies. Check them out and see which is right for you – some translators prefer bare-bones functionality with a simple interface, while others prefer an elaborate CAT tool that looks like a mission control console for the International Space Station! There is a real race on the translation market today and translators are being asked to complete more words in less time, with ever-greater levels of technical expertise required. Complacency is not an option, but the power to get ahead of the pack is in your hands.