What Is Translation Workflow Management?

What is translation workflow management? What solutions are available to help businesses efficiently manage the many workflows required for their translation and localization efforts? These questions and more are answered here.


What Is Translation Workflow Management?

Workflows are the backbone of your translation process. Proper workflow management is, therefore, vital to the success of a translation project.

Managing translation projects is anything but simple, especially as a business grows and its needs expand in both volume and scope. More content of all different types must move through the translation process, and more people become involved, often even as timelines accelerate.

But workflows give the translation process structure. And they ensure all stakeholders — internal and external — understand how to move content along to the next step efficiently.

Unfortunately, absent the right workflow tools, confusion and bottlenecks can quickly hobble the translation effort. That’s why many businesses leverage translation workflow management software to ensure their translation projects are a success.

Not All Content Should Be Treated Equally

Many businesses recognize that not all content needs to be translated for all locales. What may be relevant for an audience in the United States, for example, may not be relevant for an audience in Asia.

But just as importantly, not all content needs the same level of care and attention — and needs to carry the same cost. A company’s website and marketing materials should receive far more attention than knowledge base content, and knowledge base content should receive more attention than non-customer-facing materials.

Lastly, not all content should be translated by the same linguists. While it’s generally best practice to work with a small team of linguists who know your content and brand voice, translating marketing materials, for example, takes a very different skill set than translating patents.

Your content deserves a tailored approach.

A translation workflow management system allows businesses to choose how specific content should be treated. It helps route the different types of content so that each type reaches the right linguists.

Types of Translation Workflows

The translation process is highly customizable. But there are a few main workflows that businesses use for customer-facing material.

1️⃣ Human Translation 👉 Human Editing 👉 Published

Generally considered the minimum best practice for highly visible customer-facing content, this workflow ensures two linguists have worked on your content. As native speakers of the target language and experts in their craft, they can produce a translation that is accurate, well-worded, and natural sounding.

2️⃣ Machine Translation 👉 Human Editing 👉 Published

This is a lower-cost alternative for lower-priority translation projects, like support articles for your knowledge base — especially if you have a lot of content to translate and a tight timeline. These materials are still customer-facing, so machine translation alone is not recommended. But idiomaticity may be less of a priority than getting the point across accurately.

3️⃣ Translation (Human or Machine) 👉 Human Editing 👉 Internal Review 👉 Published

No one knows your industry and brand as well as your employees. An internal review allows you to tweak the translation to ensure your unique voice shines through. It also helps the translators who worked on your content learn company-specific preferences that they can incorporate in future work — reducing the internal review team’s workload over time.

How Do I Choose a Translation Workflow Management System?

When you are choosing a workflow management system for your translation needs, keep these points in mind:

  • How easy is it to create and configure a workflow or make changes to an existing one?
  • Can you have multiple workflows with different linguists assigned according to content type?
  • What is the process for assigning and unassigning resources to your content?
  • Can you automatically route the content to where it needs to go?

The idea of automation is crucial, as the need for human intervention to route the content invites delays. Smartling, for instance, features dynamic workflows, which automatically evaluates a string’s properties and, based on pre-set parameters, chooses between multiple steps to send it to.

Cases where this can be useful include:

  • Strings that closely match previously translated material can be sent to a machine translation workflow, and the rest can be sent to human translators
  • Content can be split and sent to different translators before being routed to an internal reviewer, who can see all the translated content in one place
  • The distinct workflows for each locale can later converge into one streamlined workflow

Dynamic workflows have proven to reduce translation cost and time by 50% - especially if you follow these four hacks.

In conclusion, as businesses grow their global footprint, their translation needs become more complex. Translation workflow management software helps businesses meet those needs by bringing transparency, customizability, and automation to the translation process