Flexibility Allows a Translation Company to Deliver Great Results
Agile is a method of developing software which has been used successfully for over 17 years. But can it be used to improve translation? As automation continues to change the way a translation company works, the Agile method does show promise at improving accuracy and speed for translated content.
What is the Agile Method?
Forbes details the history of Agile. It was created in 2001 by a group of software developers who wanted to improve how software was made. At its heart, it’s a relatively simple four-part philosophy:
- Individuals and interactions over process and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Agile was built as a response to the Waterfall workflow. With Waterfall, the entire development process is based on a series of steps.
Typically, the Waterfall process started with the creation of a huge document detailing every feature the software was supposed to have. It included technical specs, data structures, user interface designs, and much more.
A Waterfall structure must be followed in a specific order. Once a step is finished, it can’t be returned to. Needs and potential problems must be considered before the project even begins, as unexpected problems are difficult for the Waterfall method to handle.
Is Agile or Waterfall Better for a Translation Company?
The Agile structure is no longer used just for software. Plenty of businesses use it for a wide variety of product development. But does it benefit translation services?
A translation company traditionally divides projects among small teams who work independently from one another. An Agile structure can be far more flexible for translators.
Here’s a typical scenario: A large database of content needs to be translated. It contains both high-value and low-value content.
The low-value content is mainly informational. In most cases, it can be successfully translated by machine translation. But the high-value content requires human oversight. It’s more creative and nuanced content, which machines typically have problems translating.
Agile allows translators the flexibility to handle both high- and low-value content with ease. The human/hybrid approach can be implemented.
The Importance of Augmented Translation
Augmented translation is when machine translation is refined by humans. Automated translation software can learn and improve, but the input has to be correct, which requires assistance from a translation company and professional translators who understand localization needs.
An article from Slator draws a comparison between early automation in the automotive industry and current trends in translation. When machines first began to appear on the assembly line, many workers felt their jobs were in danger.
But the opposite ended up happening. Human expertise began incredibly important. People were able to use technology to spur an automotive revolution.
A similar situation is unfolding in the translation field. People aren’t being replaced by machines. Instead, they’re able to use machines to translate large volumes of text quickly and accurately.
An Agile workflow is often the ideal situation for augmented translation. When the entire human team is allowed to assist the MT, the accuracy and fluency of automated translation can quickly improve.
Businesses are mistaken if they think machines can completely replace qualified humans from a translation company. Instead, you want a translation service that understands not only MT’s benefits but also its limitations.
The Benefits of Using One Translation Company
Translation is often an on-going process. Don’t lose hope if your first batch of documents isn’t exactly what you were expecting. Even the best translation companies might require some time to find the right voice for the material.
Quality translation is more than word substitution. Your translation company will work closely with you to identify your messaging goals. Then they’ll be able to deliver that message effectively by using a concept called “cultural competency.”
A blog post from Globalization Partners International explains cultural competency in greater detail. It’s the understanding of how the nuances of culture and language affect the message for the local audience.
An Agile workflow can often achieve this cultural competency much faster than the Waterfall structure. After all, the Agile structure is all about responding to change. As MT translation problems appear, which they inevitably will, human translators can step in and keep the automated translation on the right track.
Augmented translation creates a positive feedback loop over time. Both humans and machines increase their understanding of the material as it specifically relates to the client’s needs.
You don’t just want great translation today. Instead, you want to partner with a professional translation service who can deliver great long-term results. A translation company which uses an Agile structure to implement augmented practices can grow with your company.
If you’d like to learn more, check out this white paper on how translation technology can help startups take over the world.