Working with technical translators usually comes with some additional challenges compared to regular translation work. You have to pay more attention to the way certain parts of the content are formulated, especially for some specific audiences.
Hiring a qualified translation agency that can bring the right experts to the project is a must. But there’s a lot more that you can do on your end to ensure that your technical translation goes through as smoothly as possible and doesn’t create any long-term problems. Here are some points to consider.
Understand Your Requirements in Depth
Before even starting the project, you must make sure that you have a clear understanding of your requirements. This will require some technical knowledge on your part, so get in touch with your relevant specialists if you feel out of your comfort zone – more on this below.
Review current technical documents and specifications, make notes on things that you would like to emphasize, as well as things that could be dropped from the translations. Remember that the main point of a technical translation is to get a point across as directly as possible. This is a different task compared to traditional creative translation, and you must take the right approach to it.
Consult Your Own Technical Specialists Before Hiring Translation Services
On that note, inform your corresponding technical specialists about the translation project and ask for their support for its duration. Everyone with relevant knowledge must be on the same page with regard to how the final translation should look and read. If there are any internal conflicts within the team, now is the time to resolve them.
This might require the assistance of upper management. It’s not rare that technical translation projects develop into a complex, large-scale situation that requires a lot of collaboration. Make sure that you can provide your teams with all the assistance they need to realize that collaboration.
Don’t Be Afraid to Probe with Difficult Questions – Technical Translators
Once you start interviewing different translation agencies to potentially work with them, you’ll have to be strict if you want to ensure that they are up to the task. Don’t be afraid to throw some challenging questions in those discussions to figure out where the agency stands in terms of relevant expertise.
Ask to talk to some of the translators who will be involved, if possible. This can sometimes be difficult to arrange, especially for companies that work with freelancers. But it can give you valuable insight into their understanding of the field and their relevant capabilities. It’s important to work with people who not only understand their translation work perfectly, but also have in-depth knowledge of your specific field, its terminology and current trends.
Plan Ahead for Any Additional Expertise You Might Need
Sometimes the project might call for additional expertise. Make sure to be aware of those requirements as early as possible and be prepared to fulfil them on the spot. Otherwise, you can introduce delays in the project, and you even risk having your collaboration with the translation agency break down.
After all, if the agency is left without any work for too long but it’s still contracted on your project, it might decide to take its services elsewhere. Small delays are understandable and acceptable, but do your best to prevent things from spinning out of control in this regard.
Get Constant Feedback from Your Tech Team – Technical Translators
Once the translation project is underway, have it constantly revised by your tech team. The ideal frequency for this will depend on the exact project specifications. But you should generally avoid reaching a point where your tech team has a lot on their plate for reviewing.
Otherwise, it can turn out that you have to revise major parts of the project, which can not only set you back in terms of time and money, but can also erode the trust between you and the translation agency you’re working with. They might not be as committed to the project in the future if they realize they might have to repeat a lot of their work again.
Don’t Treat This Like a Regular Translation Project
Remember that this is not a regular translation project. It will require a different schedule and a different approach to reviewing ongoing work. Make sure to align your efforts with both your tech team and the translation agency as best as you can. You will often have to work as a mediator between the two groups, and it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Work with a Professional Translation Agency
This should go without saying, but you should never leave a project like that in the hands of a random translation agency. Considering the importance of most technical translations and the implications they have for the company that orders them, it’s important to ensure that you’re hiring the best that the market has to offer.
Look specifically for an agency that works with competent technical translators and ideally has some experience in your specific field. This won’t always be possible, but it’s still a factor that can help you narrow down your search significantly.
Try to Work with the Same Agency on All Related Projects
If you have multiple projects that need to be translated, or if you’re planning to split the current project into several parts. Try to ensure that you can work with the same translation agency on all of them. This will go a long way towards bringing more consistency to the translation work. Which will matter a lot for leaving a strong impression on your readers.
Closing Thoughts- Technical Translators
Technical translations always require a more hands-on approach than regular translation projects. You have to ensure that everyone is aligned on the long-term goals of the project. And you have a lot of work ahead of you as an intermediate point of contact for the people involved. This includes both your colleagues as well as the translators you’re working with.
Taking the time to seek out a competent translation agency is one of the most important points in this regard. Make sure to scout the market as much as you can until settling on any specific agency. Otherwise, you might have to redo the project all over with another company down the road.