It’s All About Planning: How to Plan Ahead for Technical Translation

  |  July 18, 2018

Learn how to plan ahead for technical translation.

You can’t just snap your fingers and start a new translation project. Or at least, you shouldn’t!

Planning for a technical translation project requires more than meets the eye. Technical translation deals with technical and scientific subjects that usually require source documentation.

This can include industrial, manufacturing, medical, engineering, and scientific materials, which require a working knowledge of terminology particular to these industries.

Advance planning for such a complicated and precise translation project requires several steps that include content, budgeting, and timeframes. Before your company or organization begins their next technical translation project, be sure to follow these important planning steps for technical translation.

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Administrative Planning for Technical Translation

A technical translation project is more than just a load of company documents waiting for translation. Before considering specific documents or target languages, it is crucial to prepare administratively for the translation process itself.  

Appoint a company lead. Select a single person from your company who will be the point of contact for your translation services provider. He or she will oversee every aspect of your technical translation project from beginning to end.

Provide instructions. Compile a complete list of files and instructions for your translation provider that includes the scope of the project, reference materials, and the source files plus any style guides or glossaries. Specify any detailed information needed to generate deliverables that meet your intended purpose.

Budget Planning for Technical Translation

This section is an important part of the administrative planning phase, but it is so vital, it deserves its own heading.

Decide who’s paying. Planning ahead for the costs of your technical translation project allows time for budgeting and allotting resources from the proper departments. Will a specific department within your company pay for technical translation out of their budget? Will it be shared by more than one department? Or will it be your customer?

Determine the budget scope. Are you completing a large project in phases that will last longer than one budgeting cycle? Or do you need it billed in advance so it can be paid from the current year’s budget and completed next year? It’s important to ensure these details are dealt with early to avoid unnecessary delays in obtaining project approvals.

Timeline Planning for Technical Translation

Top-quality technical translation takes time. These projects typically include industry-specific terminology, unique character sets, challenging source document formats or missing graphics, and lengthy files such as manuals and user guides.

Work together. It’s unrealistic to expect a quick turnaround on such documents. Work with your translation services partner to establish a realistic and workable timeline. Both partners can gain a sense of what is needed by both parties and set an agreeable timeline with clear expectations.

Allow time for quality. Rushing your translation company into using machine translation, or rushing the translation process, can actually add time to what is required to complete the project properly. You will want to allow sufficient time for an accurate translation that is usable without a series of corrections. Retranslation efforts cost time and money beyond what you may have budgeted.

Materials Planning for Technical Translation

Finally, your documents and materials must be prepared for technical translation. Planning ahead can save time and costs later.

Organize all file submissions. Be sure your file submissions consist of all relevant files for document translation in working condition with no extra or unused files. Files should be “live,” final, and with any tracked changes accepted. Be sure to include linked graphics and fonts. Utilizing an organized folder structure goes a long way in eliminating confusion and lost source documents.

Build a glossary. Preparing for a technical translation includes creating a corporate glossary and style guide that are reviewed and approved by all involved parties within your company. Providing a glossary or reference guide of technical terms, clear definitions of acronyms, and key terms, especially industry-related terms, will help ensure that your translation team keeps everything accurate and meets the expectations of your internal stakeholders.

Partnership Planning for Technical Translation

The right partner for professional technical translation is vital. They can help you prepare for the entire process as well as perform the translation work.

Experienced translation partners will have a proven quality control process by which they can guarantee the services they provide.

Their translation staff will include not only translators, but subject matter experts in numerous technical fields and industries. This team will be able to understand your material and translate it into any number of languages flawlessly and painlessly.

If you’re ready to begin a technical translation project for your company or organization, International Language Services is here to help.