ULG's Language Services Blog

Speed Up Project Turnaround Times with These Three Tips


When shopping around for a Language Solutions Partner (LSP) to work on their translation project, clients tend to use turnaround time as one of the deciding factors. The faster a product gets to market, the faster the client will see an impact on the bottom line.

In the language services industry, the timeline to completion varies widely from project to project, depending on the complexity of the subject matter, the languages involved, the length of the project, and the final medium (website, manual, etc.).

However, there are a few things an LSP can do to drastically decrease turnaround time while not compromising on quality or accuracy. Here are three ways to successfully speed up your project lifecycle.


Set clear milestones at the beginning of the project to keep everything on track

At the initial kickoff meeting, the client and LSP should establish project expectations as well as a series of check-in points and milestones regarding the due dates of individual deliverables. By breaking up a large project into more manageable chunks, the client will have the opportunity to review progress along the way. This way, if the client needs to request any changes or wants to shift the direction of the project, amendments can be made without additional costs or extended deadlines.


Use subject-matter experts who understand the material and local culture

Adapting content from one language or region to another can be challenging enough. The process is much easier when the human linguists working on the translation and localization are also experts in the field or very familiar with the target audience. For example, only a linguist with a legal background should be translating a contract document, while only a linguist with a medical background should be involved in health sciences or medical content. Similarly, working with an LSP that understands the target region will decrease turnaround time because the linguists assigned to the project can leverage their previous experience and knowledge, rather than learning about the target market from scratch.


Use the right technology

Perhaps the single biggest factor in speeding up turnaround time is incorporating technology into the translation process rather than relying on human linguists to complete the entire project. If 50% of an initial draft of a large project can be translated by computer, the timeline to completion is much, much faster.

There are a few important caveats to using technology for language projects. It might be tempting to use a free online translation tool like Google Translate, but this will likely lead to costly errors (and a damaged reputation if sensitive data is leaked). United Language Group uses OctaveMT, a secure Machine Translation (MT) engine with more than 40 language options to translate industry-specific texts.

It’s also important to determine how MT will be used. Two main types of MT are translation memories (TMs) and translation glossaries. Translation memories are databases composed of chunks of translated text (such as full sentences), which can be paired with the source text and automatically translated for perfect or “fuzzy” matches. This is particularly useful in large projects with repetitive text, or if the client has done many similar projects with the LSP. Consider a furniture manual: there’s likely to be a lot of instructions that go something like, “Insert Tab A into Tab B.” A TM can translate these automatically.

Similarly, a translation glossary is an index of industry jargon or other specific terminology, such as trademarks and technical terms. It also includes information about the context in which the translated term should be used. Glossaries auto-populate the translated term into an original document if there is a 100% match, ensuring consistency throughout.

A word of caution: MT alone cannot complete a language project. All work must be checked by a human linguist who understands the importance of localization and nuance.

Using the three pillars of client communication, subject-matter expertise, and technology, LSPs can decrease turnaround time as well as cost. Learn more with our free eBook How to Optimize Translation and Accelerate Time to Market.