Quality Management, including Quality Control and Quality Assurance, is a crucial aspect of localization, yet most translators, even those who have developed their own way of turning round the problem, do not have a precise understanding of these concepts, nor an elaborated way of implementing them.
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To manage quality on projects, one must first understand the specific output quality expectations and then put a plan in place to meet those expectations. The most important elements of this plan are the Quality Control and Quality Assurance activities that must be performed. Quality Control refers to quality related activities associated with localization projects. It is used to make sure that the output will be of good quality and that it will be complete and correct. Quality Assurance refers to the process of granting approval to a project. It can be performed by the LSP, the client or a third-party reviewer.
The method for managing quality includes:
A) Agreeing on elements that constitute quality
The LSP and the client should agree beforehand on what completeness and correctness mean for the project. The project may then be evaluated against these criteria, as well as the translation industry practices, recommendations and standards, the specific subject matter requirements, and the completeness and correctness criteria defined in accordance with the client, before it is formally approved.
B) Putting in place a quality control process
The main reason why some projects fail to meet client expectations for quality is that some LSP do not think ahead about how they are going to manage quality on the project. This is the purpose of the quality control process or quality plan. A quality control process starts when the client contacts the LSP and continues after delivery of the project, until when it is finally accepted. It is where the program of the processes and activities that will be put into place to provide quality deliveries is described.
Here is an example of a quality control process, valid for a typical localization project; it can be adapted to comply with any LSP’s methods and fields of expertise.
1. Accepting a project
Taking into consideration of the requirements and specialties involved, the degree of difficulty of the project to complete and the turn-around time, it is advisable not to accept any project without making sure that it falls within the LSP's ability and experience.
This consists of reviewing the client’s material and requirements thoroughly before starting a project. Do some preliminary research, and if needed, build a new glossary/Translation memory.
Providing localization services requires not only language skills. A well conducted localization project would require an experienced LSP with both the necessary linguistic and specific subject matter expertise. An LSP normally relies on glossaries, translation memories, dictionaries and Internet resources, in addition to his knowledge and experience.
Always use the translation memories and glossaries along with the concerned style guide provided by the client to assure consistency. If there are some instructions from the client, they should be studied before starting the job.
4. Referring to the client to make some points clear
Ask the client all questions that we could not solve or that only he can answer, like client’s specific short names and abbreviations, unclear context for occurrence of a word. Receive the answers and do whatever you can conclude or that is instructed.
5. Language review
In a language review, a translation is compared against source files to check for localization errors or omissions. In this process, according to rules of technical writing, parts requiring so are rewritten to make them easier to read and understand.
This is the review of the output against style guides and terms lists, if any, to ensure that it is in the correct format, the guides or terms lists are followed, and correct expressions are used.
C) Performing quality assurance checks
This consists of evaluating the final project against the completeness and correctness criteria set by the translation industry practices, recommendations and standards, the specific subject matter requirements, and the completeness and correctness criteria defined in accordance with the client. It can be performed either by the LSP, the client or a third-party reviewer.
THE CORNERSTONE FOR QUALITY
Experience serves as a guarantee for quality. In the course of the project, the LSP must focus on controlling the progress of quality. To prevent the progress of quality from going out of control, all texts should be processed by experienced professionals using CAT and QA tools. This helps in assuring consistency.