A systematic focus
In the sectors we work for, errors can potentially cost millions and quality depends on the details. At the same time, deadlines are tight and version changes frequent. Project success in such a situation depends on a rigorous quality system that focuses both on the contents of a text and on the process used to produce it. A system that enables us to learn from every customer and every job, to ensure we do even better next time. And one that is as complex as necessary for the work we do, but no more.
At Fry & Bonthrone, we have developed, enhanced, and implemented a standardized translation lifecycle designed to achieve these goals. Work starts well before a text arrives for translation, and continues after it has been delivered. By clearly defining efficient procedures, our quality system helps ensure best practice every time, minimizing problems and their potential consequences. In addition, any issues that do arise can be investigated and resolved quickly, and the necessary conclusions drawn and implemented.
F&B’s internal translators use a standard methodology based on what we call the “six Rs” of good translation read, research, (w)rite, rhythm (i.e. style), revise, and responsibility.
Before starting a text, translators familiarize themselves with the translation and other key job requirements such as deadlines, client style guides, language variant, and formatting issues, thus building up a mental map of the work required.
You can only translate what you understand, so translators also research the subject matter of, and terminology for, a particular text before starting work. After quality assurance these resources are made available to all translators working on the text, and for future reference.
Once they are fully in command of the project they have been assigned to, translators produce a draft version of the target text. Any questions that arise during the process are clarified internally or with the customer as they go.
Since style and register play a crucial role in most of the translations we produce, translators are specially trained to focus on this aspect. Training modules cover both general style and text-specific issues.
In this phase, translators review the drafts they produced in the (W)rite phase for completeness, correctness, and style. Only then are texts submitted for quality assurance.
Not a separate phase but an attitude, this last point refers to the care taken by translators to ensure that each and every translation is the best they can do, that clients receive the best possible service, and that the often sensitive subject matter is handled appropriately.
All translations, whether internally or externally produced, are revised in full by the partners. This rigorous, knowledge-driven quality assurance process is designed to ensure that our work is the equal of the source text in terms of content and style. Subsequent proofreading ensures that any changes made are entered accurately and that the texts are formally correct. Only at the end of both processes when translations should be as good as it gets are they sent to the customer.
Our consistent quality orientation also means we make demands of you. To translate not just what's there but what's "between the lines", we need to learn about your business and positioning and ask questions about the text. We actively seek feedback and will discuss and accommodate any necessary changes, which are added to our client style guides for future reference. Equally, though, we will make you aware of any errors we find in the original, thus adding value above and beyond our translation role. This two-way knowledge transfer ensures you don't receive a commodity translation but something that really meets your needs and those of your target audience.
At the same time, we ask you to give us what we need to do our best on a particular job – including background material, a contact person for questions and, in particular, time. We are proud of our speedy delivery record and are always ready to help in an emergency, as our customer testimonials show. Nevertheless, translating large, highly complex and stylistically demanding texts can't be done well overnight or without polishing – after all, the authors didn’t produce the finished document on their first pass either! Where at all possible, we therefore ask you to give us advance warning and to plan work with us, including any preparation and wrap-up times. This frees us up to react flexibly to those jobs you cannot plan.
Last but not least, our long-term approach means that, wherever possible, we aim to “own” our translation right down to the end of the project, including signing off the printers’ proofs. This final check allows any typesetting errors and last-minute text changes to be incorporated – an important step given today's dynamic and often fragmented projects.