pacific wave localization
Welcome to part of the Pacific Wave Localization team! My name is Lucy Jobe and I am a current Translation and Localization Management student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. For my final semester localization practicum, a few colleagues and I are working with an Australian non-prof. You can click here or scroll down to read more about My Green World.
We're about halfway through our project, so it's time for a check-in. Although my teammates and I all have all worn different hats during the process, I've chosen to focus on the vendor manager role for this update. Enjoy!
Choosing a TMS
We lucked out that MGW had received two grants for translation, one for Transifex and one for VerbalizeIt. Although both seemed like good ideas at the time, they were extremely difficult to work into our exit plan. With only six months per trail and little to no budget for MGW, we couldn't risk starting a potentially costly operation without being able to finish it after our collaboration.
After considering cost and recommendations from colleagues, we settled on SmartCAT for our TMS. A few members of our team had used SmartCAT as a tool for their personal translations and saw it is a viable option not only for the duration of our project, but the duration of My Green World as well.
I was surprised by how long it took to integrate all of our vendors into SmartCAT for two reasons.
To begin, the majority of our vendors did not have existing SmartCAT accounts. Through a beta test using myself and another member of Pacific Wave Localization, we learned that inviting a vendor to a TMS within the context of a new project created too bumpy of a road. Between creating an account, being added to the My Green World group, and finding the project, the process was lengthy and confusing. Instead, we opted to invite new vendors to the TMS, waited until they registered themselves in the system, and finally sent them the project from there.
I’m fully aware that this multi-step process isn’t necessarily the most efficient, but it was the easiest for our vendors. At the end of the day, it is our job to deliver a translated and localized product, which would be impossible without the cooperation of the vendors. Making their lives easier made our lives easier in turn.
The second issue involving integrating vendors into SmartCAT was addressing those who had existing accounts. SmartCAT isn’t the most savvy when it comes to locating a specific linguist, in fact, it is not something SmartCAT offers unless you do a bit of digging. I got in touch with the SmartCAT team to address how to add preselected linguists to our account. They responded four days after my request, asking me to share the names of the freelancers with the SmartCAT Vendor Manager team, upon which point the VM team would add each freelancer to the My Green World team.
With time being of the essence (and being anxious to get this project going), we ignored the advice from SmartCAT and treated our vendors with existing accounts the same way we treated our vendors without such accounts. After hearing back from our vendors with existing accounts, I learned that this process was seamless in terms of accepting a job.
a herd of linguists
Localizing into 12 languages requires quite a few linguists. At least 24 to be exact, with one translator and one editor per language. Wanting to offer as many opportunities to linguists as we could, our team decided to use multiple translators for our multiple documents. The editors ensure that each of the translators sticks to the glossary and style guide created in collaboration with My Green World and Pacific Wave Localization. This means that to date, we have scouted three translators and one editor per language, bringing the grand total to somewhere around 52 linguists.
It's no surprise that this is a lot of vendors to manage. Working across time zones, languages, and CAT tool preferences hasn't been the smoothest of rides. Issues of translators missing their deadlines, being unable to access SmartCAT, and even refusing to use the tool come up a few times a week. Learning how to balance a deadline with the words these linguists are so graciously donating to My Green World has been a lesson in priorities. It requires constant vigilance, but has also turned into something I look forward to. Watching the progress bar of each of the projects is now much more enjoyable than anxiety-producing because it means that we're going in the right direction.
I’m a results oriented person. When it comes to projects and presentations, I couldn’t care less how I get to the end, just as long as I’m satisfied with what I’ve created. All of this changed when I started working with My Green World. My team and I were lucky that our results (deliverables) were clear from the kickoff meeting with the client. The process, however, was not as clear. While our client was our first priority, we were not hers. This relationship left us with a lot of autonomy, which really forced us to be engaged in the localization process.
As far as my own takeaways are concerned, I learned that the localization process is different for everyone, depending on what results are expected. Having spent some time learning the textbook process for localization, it was fascinating to see how things really work, depending on the needs of the client. Through the examples below, I was able to really get into the process and learn that sometimes, the process is more important than the results.
1. DTP is more than copy/paste
When it came time to add the translated text to the My Green World pamphlet, I thought the process would go swimmingly. How difficult could it really be to copy translated segments and place them in the corresponding areas? As it happens, the copy/paste is pretty easy, but the QA process is not. My team and I asked our editors to make sure that the words “My Green World” as well as the organization’s app “World of the Wild” were not translated. Our editors didn’t adhere to this rule, leaving us with 5 pamphlets that didn’t mention My Green World or World of the Wild. We assembled a quick team of colleagues who spoke a few of these languages to figure out where the text should be substituted. For the other languages, we had to get back in touch with our editors, restate our expectations of the untranslated words, and ask for a quick turnaround.
2. Linguists know more than words
Coming off of the pamphlet chaos, I decided to take a look into how our vendors were interacting with each other on SmartCAT. I started perusing the comments sections of one of our documents and found a pretty heated debate between a translator and an editor on where a tag should be placed in a particular segment. My first instinct was to start some kind of email mediation between the two linguists to straighten things out and take the blame for the tag on my own. Instead, I read their comment crossfire a second time, realized I could fix the tag, and save everyone’s day and sanity. I quickly took care of it, got in touch with my vendors, and still received great feedback from these linguists, all things that contribute to labeling this interaction as a successful one.
3. Gratitude goeS FAR
As the project came to a close, we wanted our vendors to feel genuinely appreciated for all of the work they did for us. We took extensive efforts to recognize them in as many ways as possible, from writing LinkedIn recommendations to personalized reference letters. I think it was this attitude of gratitude that led our vendors to rate us so highly on our final feedback survey. The most important result was that 100% of them are wiling to work with My Green World again. This turnover is huge for our client, who will have a solid resource database once she decides to pursue further localization efforts. The survey also reported that all vendors were 80-100% satisfied with their MIIS project managers, which gave us a confidence boost to finish the project as happily as we started it.
At the end of the project, everyone seemed to be pleased. Our client was thrilled that we could go above and beyond her original scope, our vendors want to work with us again, and our team learned much more than we thought possible along the way. The idea of even using the words “along the way” shows me that I was even able to switch from a hard focus on results to the fluidity and knowledge of the process.