What’s the Rush? – what you’re paying for when you pay rush fees

1 07 2016

rush fees

Trust fosters good relationships between LSPs and their clients, and that trust is built through the successful execution of projects. Project managers at LSPs work with their clients to set up timelines that everyone follows, and in turn the translation team gets translated text completed on time and delivered where it needs to be with the highest possible quality. Clients pay for this service in a timely manner, and trust grows.

But what if an unforeseen need arises and there is more or different text required by the client within the same time frame, or a quicker turnaround becomes essential? It certainly happens, and while sometimes an LSP can fit the extra work into its schedule without taking extraordinary measures, often enough there are urgent alterations required, so “rush fees” are common and necessary.

The rush fees that are usually charged in such cases might more accurately be called “inconvenience fees,” because what they compensate for is the rearrangement of schedules and plans. Rush fees aren’t surcharges tacked on to take advantage of heightened need; in fact they don’t result in extra profits for translators, but rather they’re an attempt by language service providers to recoup extra costs incurred.

This is because there are many elements involved with any translation job. When you ask for, say, overnight turnaround of 15,000 words from English into Chinese, you are not asking for something along the lines of an increased number of people to pack more boxes. The whole “LSP machine” has to be adjusted, and that machine is quite complex.

For instance, LSPs might have to ask their individual translators to process a stressful number of words per day (1,500 – 2,000 is considered an average per day output, sometimes lower, sometimes higher), and the likely scenario is that to do so, those individuals will have to work over weekends or late into the night. Specialists and translators may have to be kept on-call and paid retainer fees if it’s uncertain how many people will be needed to properly process the work on time. And translation jobs always consist of steps that must be completed in order.

Additionally, the “rush job” often interrupts other jobs in the queue and borrows resources that were supposed to be available for other clients (such as computer systems and automations). In other words, the organization required for the smooth and orderly processing of translation is shoved off to the side, and an “emergency room” type structure is put in place – for you.

Rush jobs probably shouldn’t be a regular occurrence, and if a company finds that they frequently have something Due Right Now that they haven’t arranged to have done, it would be wise to take a look at internal organization. It could be that strict, early deadlines for those departments creating content will save a lot of hassle and cash at the translation/localization phase. Other times problems arise because of last minute additions or changes by the client’s client, and that conflict might best be dealt with by educating those clients about the processes involved and the kind of obstacles and costs that untimely changes create.

Whatever the situation, potential delays that can cause rush requests should be watched for and communicated to your LSP. Sometimes a heads-up, warning them that part of the job might need to be rushed, will allow them to prepare in a way that doesn’t require emergency measures.

Workers in any other industry get overtime to compensate for such excess demands, so if a client is interested in building a trust-based relationship with their LSP, rush fees should be expected for quick turnaround requests. Translation is an intellectually demanding process that simply takes the time that it takes, and for high quality professionals, sacrificing quality through shortcuts isn’t an option.

Skrivanek’s project managers are the cream of the crop worldwide, and they’re acutely aware that rush jobs must be handled with the same attention and accuracy that any scheduled translation job receives. Procedures and alternate workflow structures have been developed to meet every scenario the global marketplace can generate.

 

For more details, please refer to our website: www.skrivanek.com.

J. McShulskis

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High Volume, Short Notice, Quick Turnaround, Specialised Terminology- The Perfect Storm of Translation!

24 02 2016

As the market leader in Central and East European languages Skrivanek is often asked to deliver translation projects for clients worldwide which involve a large wordcount or urgent delivery these are usually coupled with a requirement for knowledge of specialized terminology. Skrivanek’s 20+ years experience and extensive resources means that we are able to take these things in our stride and deliver on time, on budget and to the highest quality standards. That’s what a leading LSP (Language Service Provider) does in its sleep right?

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However, just once in a while the “perfect storm” develops of all the above factors at once plus short notice availability of the source documents and delivery on a rolling basis thrown into the mix just for good measure!

Skrivanek has successfully handled this potentially challenging scenario twice in recent years with the same international law firm as client; in 2014 translating into English from Slovak and in 2015 into English from Czech.

The documents concerned were intended for use in international commercial arbitration proceedings in the energy sector.

For this type of project the major task for the project manager is to set up teams of suitable linguists who are equipped to deal with legal documents which need to be part or fully translated often at short notice and to an exacting high standard as they will be put to immediate use by the client.

The project manager and linguists also need to be extremely flexible and aware of the client’s needs. Documents may be sent from various sources within the client’s organization, instructions and or deadlines may be changed during the translation process, extra documents added and of course the translated text  “ready to go” at the required time (or earlier 🙂 ).

In addition to the linguistic requirements a project of this type also involves being able to deal with documents delivered in a variety of formats; editable documents such as Word, more likely uneditable ones such as PDF or scanned documents plus the localization ( into the target language) of any graphics such as graphs, tables, PowerPoint presentations etc.   As a result having suitable DTP (desk top publishing) resources in place is equally as important as having high quality linguists. It may be a graph or chart not translated text which is crucial in court the next day!

Each of the projects involved many thousands of words, dozens of files and same day or next day delivery as the norm (only 10% of the documents for translation had a turnaround time of more than 2 days). Just to put this into perspective a single professional linguist can usually translate around 2,000 words per day which means that for this type of project a team of translators and reviewers are required (8 translators and 2 reviewers in this case). This is done in such a way as to ensure the highest quality standards are maintained.

As well as putting together a team of linguists these projects also involved extending our project management coverage to 7 days a week as the client was also working on and sending documents during the weekend.

The peak activity period for both of these projects was around 1 month.

Of course Skrivanek has had projects with bigger wordcounts (the 2013 1.5 million words from English into Slovak comes to mind 🙂 ) and with more specialized terminology requirements but put all the factors outlined above together and you need your team to be really on top of its game.

Were we successful? Here is the client’s feedback….

“We were exceptionally impressed by the Skrivanek team.  The group managed our extensive and lengthy project seamlessly. Always responsive and a pleasure to work with, they turned around work very quickly (often overnight), meeting all required deadlines as well as our client’s budget requirements. We certainly plan to use Skrivanek for any similar work we require in future, and we wholeheartedly recommend them for any comparable translation projects.”  

DW, Legal Assistant (at Client)

“Being able to handle this type of project is mainly down to long-term planning of both human and technological resources, identifying and training suitable resources in terms of project managers, linguists and DTP specialists and making sure such essentials as quality assurance procedures and the right technology are in place. In short having everything ready for when this type of project comes up” says Jan Hirs, Project Management Team Leader at Skrivanek IPMC.

As the Czech saying goes “winter will ask what you did in the summer” and to successfully survive the perfect translation storm you have to be well prepared!

 

Joe Atkinson

Key Account Manager

Skrivanek Translations

+44 20 3239 3256

joe.atkinson@skrivanek.com

For more details, please refer to our website: www.skrivanek.com.

Contact us.





Global Planning needs Local Knowledge

17 11 2015

 

woman-world-of-clinets_508x480The reality of international expansion for any company is that the strategies developed for one country may be ineffective in another. The millions of people in untapped markets all over the world may in fact represent future customers, but there are unique and numerous obstacles presented by each distinct cultural group.  Specific local knowledge is required, and that means you need on-site specialists.

“Look at the highest performing companies in your industry,” Forbes Magazine author Josh Bershin paraphrases global economist Pankj Ghemawat.*  “They operate globally but in a local way. Success is driven by speed, agility, and optimizing your business for local markets.”

This suggests close study of the day-to-day lives, culture and consumer needs of a country’s people and awareness of their differences from people you have already marketed to elsewhere on the globe. Communication with them in their language will be both the first challenge and the first opportunity to begin identifying and bridging the inevitable gaps.

Seeking a language service provider (LSP), you have options that include companies centrally based somewhere who rely on long-distance contacts with scattered translators and other vendors; or you have the more unusual option of a company like Skrivanek who has built a network of 45 offices on-site in 17 countries. The advantages of the local vendor management that is possible for Skrivanek with such an extensive global-local network are numerous, and the overall result is generally a far more efficient and cost-effective success for your company.

On-site Skrivanek staff work with your target country’s local translators, interpreters, subject matter specialists, software technicians, governments – any support you require — to provide teams of professionals and solutions for your language needs that companies without local branches cannot possibly develop. Furthermore, these professionals are known and regular tested during the course of long-term working relationships with Skrivanek – an importance advantage over the last minute acquisitions of freelancers that companies without a local presence must rely on. Every stage of your project’s local management, from acquisition of the best linguists for your job to the final on-site quality assurance, ensures a level of quality impossible to achieve from a distance.

 

* a central theme of Ghemawat’s 2013 book World 3.0

Jacquelyn McShulskis

For more details, please refer to our website: www.skrivanek.com.

Contact us.

 

 

 

 





Translators United-ATC Conference 2015!

20 10 2015

Just a few thoughts on the Association of Translators annual conference 2015 (aka the 2015 Language Industry Summit) which took place at the end of last month in Manchester. The organizers took a slight gamble with both the venue and location for this year’s event.

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On both counts their gamble paid off, heading to the North of England for the first time ever encouraged many LSPs ( language service providers) from that part of the world to participate and the setting of Old Trafford could not be faulted, first class facilities and highly professional staff.

From my point of view as Skrivanek’s UK Account Manager it was a great opportunity to meet some of our UK based clients ”in the flesh”, thank them for their loyalty and gather very useful feedback for our production team.

Delegates came from a wide variety of backgrounds within the industry from representatives of the largest MLVs (multi language vendors) globally, through medium sized and smaller LSPs to self employed translators and those from an academic background. As always the presentations were relevant, based on industry experience and most importantly made sense to an audience which could easily identify with much of the content.

Innovations for this year were the ATC Language Industry Summit Awards which were the highlight of the Gala Dinner. The awards complete with nominations, presentations and trophies were announced in I would say a spirit of friendly rivalry. I’m sure they will become an annual institution.

So, the two days flew by all too quickly and it was soon time to pack up and head home. I called this piece “Translators (Manchester) United” as the atmosphere always seems to be so relaxed and supportive, participants were genuinely willing to share their views and experience whatever their background. If they happened to make a useful new contact or even a sale then that was a bonus. Given this year’s venue I think we can say that for two sunny days at the end of September at least translators really were united!

Joe Atkinson

For more details, please refer to our website: www.skrivanek.com.

Contact us.





Start With a Style Guide

9 09 2015

styleguide

Creating a language use guide for proper company branding across all materials and media is like supplying a map for a complicated journey: hours of copywriting missteps and wrong turns can be eliminated. With specific language requirements in hand, anyone writing marketing copy for your product literature or website can more easily retain the voice and attitude of your original material, in addition to precisely reproducing other less subjective details, such as layout and font options.

A style guide defines how to handle just about every language issue, thus answering hundreds of questions and providing a vision for everyone to follow. Ideally, all authors in the company should review it thoroughly before they begin, and refer to it all along the way. The guide outlines how to best verbalize ideas so that they come out “sounding like” your company, minimizing the need for individuals to base choices on personal preferences.

Begin by clarifying the desired audience, including the basics of age, gender, education level and technological ability. Delineate preferred tone, goals, syntax, and phraseology, using examples of “do’s” and “don’ts” whenever possible. Determine the details your company’s voice is best supported by in terms of formatting, fonts, punctuation, acronyms, etc., and itemize these for your translators. A focused effort to bring together these guiding principles is estimated to take 8-10 hours, with the likelihood of saving hundreds later on, while preventing embarrassing or costly errors.

Style guides are a powerful tool for improving the communication of your English-speaking staff, but they are also invaluable aids to branding across international markets. Augment your core style guide with tips from in-country language specialists and on-site staff members in the countries where you do business. The guide can be translated with special issues addressed for every language you work with (Facebook has 72 style guides for different markets), or it can be an English document with sections dedicated to guidance for other languages. With such a framework made clear to translators before they even begin their work, the more difficult tasks of interpreting ideas and recreating them in other languages will go that much more smoothly.

The benefits of style guides:

  • Providing a consistent product experience for customers, which increases confidence and encourages brand loyalty
  • Creation of stronger brand personality and global recognition
  • Consistent brand messaging among all languages used
  • Reduction of potentially damaging translation imprecision and errors that have to be cleaned up later
  • Easier focus for all concerned on the creation of powerful branding

Starting with product concepts that are mutually understood, and providing as much specific guidance as possible, you can also let your style guide evolve as you receive feedback from translators, in-country staff, and users. Translation is an art and the development of a style guide to maximize its effectiveness is a nuanced process, a dialogue between you, your translators and your customers, and it should continue to evolve over time.

Skrivanek is available to assist your company in creating style guides for multiple languages and countries.

Jacquelyn McShulskis





LocWorld 2015 Berlin- Train of Thought!

24 06 2015

To be honest, as earlier this month my train to Berlin made its way across the Czech –German border and I gazed out at the beautiful countryside either side of the river Labe/Elbe my expectations for the upcoming LocWorld were not high. I had attended LocWorld on a couple of previous occasions and found them let’s say “not really my cup of tea”.

Berlin_LocWorldThe train I was travelling on had set out from Budapest early that morning and after dropping me in Berlin would end its journey in Hamburg in the evening. Although early in the tourist season the passengers evidently came from many different countries and overland travel in this part of Central Europe is certainly a good reminder if one is needed of the rich linguistic and cultural mix in this relatively small part of the world.

So, onto Berlin and LocWorld, Skrivanek had a strategically located booth this year and I must say from my arrival on the Wednesday evening to departure on Friday lunchtime the event was a pleasure to be part of and my misgivings on the journey up were quickly dispelled.

The event was extremely well attended with a healthy mix of old faces and newbies, the exhibition area was not dominated by any particular participant so there was a constant ebb and flow of attendees from a wide range of LSPs, technology providers, freelance translators, members of professional bodies, academics and many others.

I said earlier that the Skrivanek booth was strategically located, to be more exact it was on the main route to the supplies of coffee and cake and this ensured a steady stream of visitors and just a few of the conversations I remember having were with colleagues from Egypt, Sweden, China and France. We also had the chance to greet many of our business partners in person. Thank you to everyone who called by to say hello.

There seemed a real eagerness among everyone I met to swap experiences, learn new things, make new contacts and generally make good use of every opportunity, both professional and social that LocWorld offered.

I’m sure many participants social highlight would be the Thursday evening grill party which took place on a perfect early summer’s evening by the shores of the Neuen Zee in Berlin’s famous Tiergarten.

All too quickly as it turned out, it was Friday lunchtime and time for me to make my way back , through the gathering crowds of Juventus and Barcelona fans ( in Berlin for the Champions’ League Final) to the railway station.

I believe it is customary at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games for some VIP to say “these were the best games ever” well I’m not a VIP but I can honestly say that this was easily the best LocWorld I have attended. Why? Several factors I guess; Berlin is a great location – a truly laid back big city, Skrivanek exhibiting this year certainly made a difference, also a great mix of participants and speakers but I am convinced travelling by train rather than by air put me in a more “linguistically receptive” mood. I hope LocWorld is in Istanbul sometime soon, a trip on the Orient Express or its modern counterpart might be interesting!

Joe Atkinson





Busting “Ghost” Translators

19 06 2015

Imagine that you need money, don’t care how you get it, and you conceive of a crime that you can execute without being seen or shot at. Not only that, the victim might possibly never realize they have been robbed, and even if they do, you will face no negative consequences.

This is the dirty dream job of CV scammers.

Ghost_TranslatorsIn the translation industry, Curricula Vitae (CVs) of legitimate freelance translators are lifted from translation industry websites and attached to made-up names and contact information with astonishing frequency these days. Global Language Service Providers (LSPs) like Prague-based Skrivanek Translation Services receive dozens of fake CVs daily, forcing them to spend a considerable amount of time sorting the good from the bad.

“Not all translation agencies dedicate the resources that we do to directly testing all of our translators before assigning them jobs,” says Michal Kufhaber, Skrivanek’s Global Production Manager. “Unfortunately, many choose translators based only on good CVs.”

The rock-bottom low rates that scammers frequently offer can be persuasive, especially when they’re accompanied by CVs testifying to valuable (sometimes incredible) experience. When one of the fakes slips past the filters and is hired, delivering an unusable translation doesn’t stop the scammer from demanding pay through a chain of connections that makes them hard to track down. And when the thief gets really lucky, payment is issued before the shoddy translation is seen for what it is.

There are some consistent clues that tip off the wary LSP. Illegitimate CVs often contain physical addresses that don’t exist. They always use email addresses with free servers like Gmail and Hotmail, and they don’t provide working phone numbers. The CV will often look cut and pasted, containing a variety of fonts, for instance. The recipient shows up as “undisclosed recipients,” meaning that the scammer is flooding the market in search of a nibble.

While scammers are still working the field, they have seriously riled their victim-base. Translators are an intelligent group who rely on their reputations and on long-distance connections to clients and work – they aren’t taking this crooked trend lightly. Individuals, forums and websites have dedicated themselves to the detection and public unveiling of the CV thieves. One example is the Translator Scammers Directory, which offers shared information from a collective of scam victims. Their slogan is, “They steal your CV, your Work and your Money … We make their lives a living hell.”

Their advice? Their website suggests publicly exposing the ghost translators in every way you can think of and creating filtering systems for your hiring procedures.* Experienced global LSPs often have well-established routines of doing these very things, as you can see for instance in Skrivanek’s thorough Recruitment Process for new translators.

So who are these CV thieves? Interestingly, according to Translator Scammers Directory, nearly all can be traced to Palestine, where one in six people in the West Bank and 1 in 2 of those in Gaza were unemployed at the end of 2014.** Small percentages of them are from Asian and Eastern European countries.

All of the victims are people with years of study and experience that these syndicates of desperate “ghosts” electronically snatch to generate income for themselves. In our global online village, where troubled neighborhoods share a border in cyberspace with your desktop, diligence and creative solutions are required to protect your assets.

J. McShulskis

*Check http://www.translators-scammers.com for useful tips, scammer lists, and extensive other information.
**Worldbank.org