A translation project workflow



Everything starts with the contact – “Hi. I have a translation project and I’d like to know if you’re interested”. The steps that follow this first contact depend on whether this is a direct client or a translation agency.


My experience with direct clients is quite limited. I have performed small and large jobs in the past, but decided to focus on translation agencies for a few reasons (I can share later). Roughly, and please someone correct me if I’m mistaken, this is a bit easier. Your client probably doesn’t know much about translation, so he/she will send you a file and say “can you do it? When can you deliver?”. Next, you’ll check the kind of project – if your client sent you all the files you need to translate, you just have to send them a quote, containing total cost and delivery date. The ideal is always to let someone else revise your work, so that no bad surprises can arise. If your client accepts your quote, you’ll work on the file, someone will revise it, you’ll give it a last read and voilá – delivery.


For translation companies, it is a bit different. They will contact you to see if you can meet their deadline and their budget. If there is no compatibility, the quote ends there. But if there is, you’ll receive many materials that are essential for a high quality translation, namely:


  • Glossary
  • Style guide
  • Previous translations
  • TM (translation memory)
  • File to translate


Previous translations are not only useful for document updates, but also to check what is the tone and style that this specific company follows, which shapes their identity in that community.


It is important to note that if you’re dealing with a direct client, you should create your own versions of these files, to help you keep consistency and to save you time researching terms you have researched in the past. Also, let’s say your client requires you to update an application manual every time there is a new release (to fix a bug, for instance) – wouldn’t you be glad to have everything previously done stored in a TM?


Also important is to pay close attention to the level of difficulty of the text. The higher it is, the more time you need to translate and research. One suggestion: Create a document to list potential technical terms that must be inserted in the glossary, so that you have a better idea of how much time this project will cost you.



To sum this up:


  1. Quote request received.
  2. Files analysed (check subject, length, scan for technical terms, analyse the file against a TM if applicable).
  3. Quote generated, containing total amount and delivery date.
  4. Project approved by the client.
  5. Purchase order received.
  6. Project executed (translation + revision + proofreading).
  7. Project delivered.
  8. Invoice delivered to the Finances Department.
  9. The End.

But what if you receive a quote for editing or proofreading? What do you do?

Let’s talk about that in the next post.

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