Arbitration: it’s not just about who’s getting the vacation house and who’s getting the fine china in the divorce. When it comes to LQA, arbitration is key to maintaining quality output — and it’s a process we at Chillistore are always working to understand and improve.
When we talk about “arbitration,” we mean the stage that can arise after the initial translation, review, and rebuttal phases.
Let’s start from the top: translators translate. Chillistore then receives translations, which we review via our Language Quality Assurance (LQA) process. Our primary goal with LQA is to “Inspect and Adapt.” We’re continuously identifying areas that need improvement; testing new solutions; and changing our approaches to match our findings. Our review process is a prime example of this.
Reviewing a translation doesn’t mean marking certain aspects “wrong” or “incorrect,” and marking others “correct.” In fact, that’s the least helpful way to review a translation — it’s an arbitrary, vague way to assess material, and doesn’t allow room for explanation or creativity. Reviewers score errors (the more errors, the lower the score), and a translator’s goal is to have as few errors as possible.
|Human error (reviewer)||Issue caused by reviewer.|
|Human error (translator)||Issue caused by the translator.|
|Placeholder/variable||Issue caused by the out-of-context translation of strings containing placeholders or variables.|
One a translation has been reviewed, we send it back to the translator, who then has the option to rebut our findings. This is the Rebuttal Stage, and it’s key to making the translator feel involved in the entire feedback process. It would be easy for a translator to simply mark the changes with which they agree or don’t agree, but that wouldn’t be very thorough or specific. Again, we ask translators to choose from a predefined list of causes; they categorize the “Root Case” of the “error,” and provide a “Definition” — AKA what type of error is being addressed, and what may have been the cause. This system helps with data analysis, and information exchange, and makes the entire process more thorough and higher quality. If the translator remains dissatisfied with any elements of our review, in comes…arbitration.
So often, arbitration can be a drawn-out, costly way to mitigate disagreements. Perhaps the LSP pulls in a third person to review the content and arbitrate — a “too many cooks in the kitchen” response. Or, sometimes, the client might be brought in to deal with languages they don’t speak, leaving room for error. With either of these less-than-ideal approaches, there tends to be frustration, very little productivity, and a lot of back-and-forth.
We’ve noted the major slow-downs that arise during arbitration, and have made it our mission to do things differently. We don’t have all of the answers, but we’re moving toward a smoother experience for everyone.
First, we assign a Chillistore Language Owner who will be responsible for a specific case. The LO assesses the arbitration process, and looks for gaps and pain points. They then discuss their findings with translators and reviewers face-to-face — we firmly believe that direct human interaction helps people stay open-minded and tolerant of other perspectives. After all, we tend to behave differently when we know there’s a human on the other end of our rants.
Our LOs then schedule a follow-up meeting, which they moderate. Translators and reviewers can use this time to address their concerns, with the help of a well-informed, well-trained third party. The end goal of these meetings is to come to some sort of agreement. Reviewers can agree to keep or revert some of their findings, while translators can concede or refuse theirs. Hopefully, the LO’s presence and knowledge will be a helpful tool during this meeting.
After the meeting, LOs document their discussions and action items in very specific terms. For example, an LO might write: “Translator will focus on using a more concise and compact style of writing,” or, “Proofer will comment corrections with more detail.” These are firm action items, and the LO’s record of them helps keep all parties accountable.
We acknowledge that arbitration is a very human process, and thus, there’s plenty of room for human errors and inconsistencies. Not every case is the same, and not every response can be identical to its predecessor. Our overall goal, however, remains consistent: to reduce the client’s stress and involvement, while providing them with the quality they seek. In this way, we truly do act as an extension of your team.