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Quality Assessment and Economic Sustainability of Translation


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Presentation prepared for the address to be held at JICOT in Amman on July 30, 2009.

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Quality Assessment and Economic Sustainability of Translation

  1. 1. Quality Assessment and Economic Sustainability of Translation Luigi Muzii
  2. 2. Caveat <ul><li>The content of this presentation treats quality from an “industrial” point of view </li></ul>
  3. 3. The starting point <ul><li>Translation is a cost </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clients see translation as a commodity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TSP’s are not paid for basic services </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Only VAS are worth spending </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Annex A in EN 15038:2006 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Translation as a cost <ul><li>Translation is a labor-intensive activity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How should it be valued? </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Doing more with less <ul><li>Customers’ expectations for multilingual information grow rapidly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A translation that no one would read is not a deal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Someone could even have a look at the job sometime </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Company resources and methods are dwarfing </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. A vicious circle Customers are willing to spare resources for new products, and want to pay less Vendors have smaller budgets Service providers are unwilling to work for less Vendors cannot satisfy customers Users see no benefit and are unwilling to spend
  7. 7. Differentiation <ul><li>How many translators and vendors claim their main differentiator is quality? </li></ul>
  8. 8. The offer <ul><li>Quality varies widely with the scope of service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If so many offer (excellent) quality, what differentiates competitors? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No longer a selling point, but an expectation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Deliver what promised and meet requirements </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Differentiator is in the client’s choice <ul><li>Nominally based on an array of criteria </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A unique operative point of comparison </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality is not an intrinsic value </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unique Selling Proposition </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clients assume equal levels of quality and service from any vendor </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Does quality matter? <ul><li>Totally irrelevant from a sales perspective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is expected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is the quality you are selling the same quality your clients are buying? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Quality defined <ul><li>The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An integration of the features and characteristics that determine the extent to which output satisfies the customer’s needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compliance to generally accepted processes used consistently and constantly throughout an organization </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Business processes can be improved so that the product pass as it is </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Doing the right thing the right way the first time and every time </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Cross views <ul><li>Quality is relative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People can perceive different quality levels in the same product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality is geared to constraints in requirements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Different types of jobs need different quality requirements </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Different quality requirements lead to different expectations </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Does quality exist? <ul><li>Doing right the first time every time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preventing errors, not catching errors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dissociate language skills from productivity skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Education and training play different roles in building a translator’s profile </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Domain-specific knowledge are more important than language skills </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Errors <ul><li>Important in the manufacturing industry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Defective parts are discarded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The production process is revised to avoid manufacturing of defective parts </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Quality in translation <ul><li>Little to do with errors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much to do with assumptions and goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Client-vendor mismatch </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Different approaches for different types of translation and needs </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Define process and responsibilities </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. The origin of errors <ul><li>Disagreements from missing requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When the project is over </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Require a lot of effort on both sides to fix </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mainly stylistics or preferences </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Usually depend on translators disregarding style guide and glossary </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Translation quality assessment <ul><li>Based on strict correspondence between source and target texts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intensive error detection and analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Totally uneconomic approach </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Considerable investment in human resources and time </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technical translators trained by current university teaching methods and programs are generally not prepared to meet different quality criteria </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Major vs. minor errors <ul><li>Do minor errors exist? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Error-counting assessment methodologies do not address all problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A translation may be free of errors and still unacceptable </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Quality is free <ul><li>What costs money are the unquality things* </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clients rely on the service provider to deliver a certain degree of intrinsic quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Many clients know almost nothing about the translation process </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clients are not interested in any of the translator’s favored issues </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Few clients have the skills and competences to knowledgeably assess a translation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Many c l i e n t s have pretty firm ideas about how much translation should cost </li></ul></ul></ul>* Philip B. Cosby from “Quality is Free: the Art of Making Quality Certain”
  20. 20. Assessment models <ul><li>Le intérêt théorique des méthodes d’évaluation est inversement proportionnel à leur simplicité d’application.* </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Robert Larose </li></ul></ul>* From Meta, XLIII, 2, 1998
  21. 21. Death of the reviewer <ul><li>Are reviewers still needed? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do high-quality translations need further improvements? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The translator has more information than the reviewer, when it should be the opposite </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. The process <ul><li>Teach how to avoid errors not how to catch them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Try an ‘economic’ approach with the cost of errors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eliminate editors </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Introduce “project facilitators” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Create a community </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Translators and a SME to answer questions </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>All the tools to fulfill the project </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. AOQ vs. AQL <ul><li>Average Outgoing Quality procedures best suited for small translation projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sampling is non-destructive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots are 100% inspected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All defectives in rejected lots are replaced with good units </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Acceptance Quality Levels for tolerance and deviations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Maximal percentage of non-conforming items to be considered as a satisfying process mean </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Acceptance sampling </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lots exceeding deviations from AQL are rejected </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Agreed upon in a SLA </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. TQI vs. AQL <ul><li>TQI = Translation Quality Index </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A measurement of the numbers and types of errors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Error definition, categorization, and ‘weight’ (severity) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A statistical score </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Many a TQI depending on purpose </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>85% of an organization’s problems lie in its processes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To know whether a process is quality-effective its results must be measured </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Objective, reproducible, and repeatable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality before and after each stage </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sampling implies/requires homogeneity (in batches) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Metrics <ul><li>Metrics measure how much a product meets requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Metrics measure performance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Metrics help identify specific performance-affecting problems </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Money is a measure that holds the same value for both parties </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cost vs. revenues </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of the finished product </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Number and magnitude of defects </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of the process </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How reliable it is to produce quality products </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Likelihood of achieving quality in this deliverable </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Predictors of quality </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. The real cost of translation* <ul><li>Money is an objective metric </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It does not influence the system being measured </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trade-off between time and performance </li></ul></ul></ul>c = cost t = translation e = error rate (%, 0 ≤ e ≤ 1) r = revision  f (t) a = accessories * From Salvador Aparicio i Paradell ’s address at the first international congress on specialized translation in Barcelona (March 2000) ) + r + a 1 + e c = t ( 1 - e
  27. 27. Economic sustainability <ul><li>Economic sustainability of translation corresponds to allocation efficiency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The best trade-off between requirements that cannot all be simultaneously met </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality must be proportioned to profit </li></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Value <ul><li>The consumer’s marginal utility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How much something is worth to someone relative to other things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cost-determined for services </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The resources that went into making it </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Demand-determined for commodities </li></ul></ul></ul>Value = Benefits Price = Quality received Expectations
  29. 29. Generating value <ul><li>Translation belongs to business models emphasizing end value rather than use value </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Translation is a cost as it has no direct influence in potential profit margin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The economic benefit of translation is invisible </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Respond to demands <ul><li>Focus on process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Review and streamline operations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Solve operational problems and automate business processes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Expedite and reduce translation-related activities </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Quality is never an accident <ul><li>It is always the result of intelligent effort. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>John Ruskin </li></ul></ul>