Undoubtedly, quality is a key component in the translation space. If you are having your corporate website translated, there is no question that the quality should be top notch, right? But what is “top notch”?

How we define is quality is as personal as how someone might define a “good life.” For some, quality means that the intended audience can understand of what’s in front of them. For others, it means that every word choice is perfect, every comma is used with precision. Businesses are under pressure to push content out at the hyper pace the market requires today to remain competitive. We are now in a world where data and content is shared so quickly that we must ask ourselves, what’s considered high quality today?

There’s no perfect answer. Unlike ten years ago, you can’t assume that every piece of content needs to be translated perfectly. There are so many types of content and so many different objectives for each that assuming high quality has to be the end result only complicates the task. Marketing content may need one tier of quality, internal documentation another.

In the past, a translation provider might have asked questions like “Who’s the target audience for this content?” or “What will you use this content for?” These are still good questions, but they won’t generate the deeper answers for you or your audience. There’s still too much ambiguity to guide you to the result you want.

So how do you decide what level of quality you need in your translation?

The better question to ask is something like, “What’s my objective with this content?” The answer could be as simple as, “We need our employees globally to understand who to contact for HR questions.” Great - now you now the objective and you’re on the right path.

Next, ask, “So what would our criteria be for a successful translation?” With your HR document, it might be that employees feel that the company wants them to understand global corporate policies no matter where they are in the world. Now it’ll be easier for you to work with your language services partner on different solutions. For example, you might be able to leverage machine translation with post editing. Can you simply translate content and not worry about heavy editing and content QA? You might need the message to be translated at a 90 percent quality rate, or enough to meet the objective of that piece of content.

Will this approach work every time for every piece of content? Of course not. Quality is one leg of the three legged stool in translation. You’ll need to balance it with speed and cost. But asking these questions of yourself, your colleagues, and your partners will streamline the translation process, control your language services spend, and increase your time to market. All which could put you in line for a promotion.

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