Crafting an Effective Machine Translation Strategy in 10 Steps

Crafting an Effective Machine Translation Strategy in 10 Steps

Crafting an Effective Machine Translation Strategy in 10 Steps 2560 1706 Sergio Guillén

Are you considering integrating machine translation into your business growth roadmap? Discover the art of crafting a machine translation strategy that enables your brand to seamlessly connect with international customers, all while maximizing efficiency and achieving your localization goals.

The Pitfalls of Insufficient Planning

Insufficient planning often leads to costly mistakes in the global business landscape. Missed opportunities arising from inadequate automation and lost revenue due to inefficient processes can easily be averted with a clear understanding of the necessary actions to take.

Machine translation (MT) is no exception to this rule. Although it is increasingly becoming a crucial part of localization strategies, many growing businesses still lack a well-defined approach to leverage its potential. To optimize globalization efforts and develop a robust machine translation strategy, it is imperative to consider the following 10 steps.

Importance of a Machine Translation Strategy

Large enterprises worldwide have already moved past the question of whether to use machine translation for global growth. The emergence of neural MT has solidified the position of MT as a productivity tool, enabling companies to swiftly enter new markets while keeping costs at bay.

However, the practical implementation of machine translation can be challenging. Businesses often struggle to find a method that aligns with their objectives and requirements. Determining what content to run through machine translation, effectively utilizing machine translation post-editing (MTPE), and setting reasonable pricing are among the variables that demand careful consideration.

A well-defined machine translation strategy is the key to answering these questions and more. It empowers you to:

  1. Save time and money — strategic usage of machine translation expedites the localization process while remaining cost-effective.
  2. Achieve accuracy from the start — by ensuring the selection of the right machine translation engine for your objectives, use cases, and processes, you avoid wasting time and effort.
  3. Deliver fully localized content — with a well-directed machine translation strategy, no content is left behind, ensuring a seamless user and customer experience. Prioritizing content for human translation, post-editing, or direct machine translation becomes a matter of strategic decision-making.

Crafting a Winning Machine Translation Strategy in 10 Steps

To unlock the true potential of machine translation and harness its benefits, it is crucial to devise a tailored plan. Follow these 10 steps to design a machine translation strategy that seamlessly integrates with your localization program.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

Begin by determining the objectives you aim to achieve by incorporating machine translation into your localization program. Are you primarily focused on cost savings, reducing time-to-market, or localizing content that was previously deprioritized due to resource limitations?

Machine translation can offer all these benefits, but understanding your goals with precision is essential. For instance, if cost savings are your top priority, you can explore opportunities to utilize raw (unedited) machine translation whenever suitable. You can then prioritize human translation or post-editing only when necessary, such as for critical content like win-back email campaigns.

Step 2: Analyze Your Content

Not all content holds equal importance for your strategic goals. Internal documentation differs from customer-facing content, and certain pages on your website have higher visibility compared to others. Additionally, some content may have a short lifespan, like product reviews.

To ensure effective allocation of machine translation efforts without compromising quality, consider classifying your content based on:

  • Visibility (high, medium, or low)
  • Target audience (internal vs. external stakeholders and customers)
  • Relevance to your goals (critical or non-critical)
  • Longevity (permanent or temporary)

As a rule of thumb, any permanent, highly visible content intended for external stakeholders should involve a human translator to some degree. This could involve full post-editing or direct human translation, depending on the specific requirements.

Step 3: Select the Right Machine Translation Engine

Choosing the right machine translation engine is crucial for the success of your strategy. There are various machine translation options available, including general-purpose engines, domain-specific engines, and customized engines.

Consider the following factors when selecting a machine translation engine:

  • Language Pair — ensure that the engine supports the language pair(s) you require for translation. Some engines may perform better in certain language combinations than others.
  • Quality — evaluate the quality of translations generated by different engines. Conduct thorough testing and compare the output against your quality standards.
  • Customization — determine if you need a generic machine translation engine or one that can be customized specifically for your industry or domain. Customized engines often provide better accuracy and domain-specific terminology.
  • Integration — assess the ease of integration with your existing content management systems or localization platforms. Smooth integration can streamline your workflow and increase efficiency.

It’s recommended to test multiple machine translation engines and gather feedback from users or language translation experts to make an informed decision.

Step 4: Implement a Post-Editing Strategy

Post-editing is a crucial step in ensuring the quality and accuracy of machine-translated content. Define your post-editing strategy based on the intended use and target audience of the content.

Consider the following post-editing options as part of your machine translation strategy:

  • Light Post-Editing — this approach focuses on correcting major errors, improving readability, and ensuring the translation conveys the intended message accurately. It is suitable for internal documentation or content with a shorter lifespan.
  • Full Post-Editing — in this approach, the post-editor performs a comprehensive review and revision of the machine-translated content, ensuring it meets the same quality standards as human translation. This is recommended for customer-facing content or critical communications.
  • Collaborative Post-Editing — engage in collaboration between machine translation providers, post-editors, and subject-matter experts to improve the quality and efficiency of the post-editing process. This approach can help train the machine translation engine for better output in the future.

Ensure clear guidelines, style guides, and glossaries are provided to post-editors to maintain consistency across translations.

Step 5: Develop a Quality Assurance Process

Establishing a robust quality assurance (QA) process is vital to ensure consistent and accurate translations. This process should involve reviewing and validating the machine-translated content, identifying and resolving errors, and maintaining brand consistency.

When building your machine translation strategy, consider the following components for your QA process:

  • Linguistic Review — assign qualified linguists to review machine-translated content and provide feedback on accuracy, fluency, and adherence to style guides.
  • Terminology Management — maintain a centralized terminology database to ensure consistent terminology usage across translations. Provide terminology resources to machine translation engines to enhance accuracy.
  • Continuous Improvement — collect feedback from linguists, post-editors, and end-users to identify recurring errors or areas for improvement. Use this feedback to refine your machine translation engine and update style guides or glossaries.

Step 6: Integrate Machine Translation into your Workflow

To maximize efficiency and streamline the localization process, integrate machine translation into your existing workflow and content management systems.

Integrations are key to a successful machine translation strategy, consider the following options:

  • API Integration — utilize machine translation APIs to integrate with your content management system or localization platform. This allows for seamless translation processes and automatic transfer of content.
  • CAT Tool Integration — if you work with computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, ensure they support machine translation integration. This enables translators and post-editors to work within their familiar environment while benefiting from machine translation suggestions.
  • Workflow Automation — automate the translation process by setting up workflows that automatically trigger machine translation, post-editing, and quality assurance steps based on predefined rules or content attributes.

Integrating machine translation into your workflow reduces manual efforts, accelerates translation turnaround times, and ensures a consistent localization process.

Step 7: Train and Refine the Machine Translation Engine

Continuous training and refinement of the machine translation engine are essential for improving its accuracy and performance over time.

Consider the following approaches in your machine translation strategy:

  • Feedback Loop — establish a feedback loop between linguists, post-editors, and machine translation providers. Encourage them to provide feedback on translations, share their expertise, and identify patterns or recurring issues.
  • Human-in-the-Loop — incorporate human involvement to validate and correct translations generated by the machine translation engine. This helps identify errors and improve the engine’s understanding of context and intent.
  • Incremental Training — periodically retrain the machine translation engine using a combination of your own data and publicly available parallel corpora. This allows the engine to learn from new translations and adapt to changes in language usage.

By continuously training and refining the machine translation engine, you can enhance its accuracy, improve domain-specific terminology, and optimize the overall translation quality.

Step 8: Monitor and Evaluate Performance

Regularly monitor and evaluate the performance of your machine translation system to ensure it aligns with your desired quality standards and business goals.

Consider the following metrics for evaluation:

  • Translation Quality — continuously assess the quality of machine-translated content using human evaluation, automated metrics (such as BLEU or METEOR), or user feedback. Compare the results against your predefined quality benchmarks.
  • Productivity — measure the impact of machine translation on translation turnaround times, cost savings, and overall productivity. Monitor the time spent on post-editing and compare it to the time required for manual translation.
  • User Satisfaction — gather feedback from end-users or customers to evaluate their satisfaction with machine-translated content. Address any concerns or issues raised promptly to improve user experience.

Regular monitoring and evaluation allow you to identify areas for improvement, track the impact of machine translation on your localization process, and ensure the system meets your business objectives.

Step 9: Ensure Data Security and Confidentiality

When implementing machine translation, it’s crucial to consider data security and confidentiality. Language data may contain sensitive information, especially in industries such as healthcare, finance, or legal.

Consider the following measures to ensure data security:

  • Data Encryption — implement robust encryption protocols to protect data during transmission and storage. This helps safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access.
  • Compliance with Regulations — adhere to relevant data protection regulations and industry standards, such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Ensure that the machine translation service provider complies with these regulations as well.
  • Confidentiality Agreements — establish confidentiality agreements with machine translation service providers to protect your data and prevent unauthorized use or sharing.

By prioritizing data security and confidentiality, you can mitigate risks and ensure the safe handling of your language data.

Step 10: Continuous Monitoring and Optimization

To maintain the effectiveness of your machine translation strategy, it’s essential to continuously monitor and optimize its performance.

Consider the following practices:

  • Regular Auditing — conduct periodic audits to evaluate the quality and accuracy of machine-translated content. Identify areas for improvement and implement corrective measures as needed.
  • User Feedback — encourage users and linguists to provide feedback on the machine-translated content. This feedback can help identify specific issues, improve terminology, and enhance the overall user experience.
  • Technology Updates — stay informed about advancements in machine translation technology and consider upgrading or adopting new tools when appropriate. New techniques, models, or algorithms may offer improved translation quality or efficiency.
  • Ongoing Training — continuously train the machine translation engine using new data, industry-specific terminology, and user feedback. This training helps the engine adapt to evolving language patterns and improves its performance over time.

By continuously monitoring, optimizing, and adapting your machine translation strategy, you can ensure its long-term effectiveness and maximize its benefits for your organization.


In conclusion, implementing a successful machine translation strategy involves careful planning, selecting the right tools, defining post-editing and quality assurance processes, integrating with existing workflows, training and refining the machine translation engine, and continuously monitoring performance. By following these steps and working with a translation agency, you can leverage machine translation to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your translation and localization efforts.

Sergio Guillén

As the CEO of Accelingo, I believe in a globalized world where businesses flawlessly share their message across different cultures.I strive to empower startups to scale up globally and take over the world by providing compelling multilingual content that preserves their brand’s message and identity while increasing their reputation and visibility among global clients and partners.If you’re an ambitious startup hungry for international success, get in touch with me today and let’s find out how your startup can benefit from my expertise!

All stories by: Sergio Guillén

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