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By Riteba McCallum
August 7, 2019

Impossible Deadline? Talk to Us.

For OXO’s Montréal team, there are two Nuit Blanche in late winter: the well-known nocturnal arts festival as part of Montréal en Lumière, and the budget report translation. The latter doesn’t sound as exciting, but it’s fun in its own pizza- and coffee-fuelled way. It’s also a great example of all the translation management work that goes on behind the scenes to provide a smooth, efficient service. If you’ve ever wondered what it is a translation agency does, exactly, read on.

The Mandate

On the surface, it seems simple enough: One of our clients is a large financial institution. Every spring, this client delivers a highly technical presentation of around 7,000 words (split between a Word document and a PowerPoint) breaking down the new federal budget for its brokers. OXO has provided the French translation of this presentation since 2016.

The Challenge

The problem is that the government tables its budget around 4 p.m., and our client delivers its presentation the next morning. This creates three main challenges. Firstly, we need to stick to the terminology of the French-language budget but have very little time to familiarize ourselves with it. Secondly, we essentially have to translate the text in real time as it’s being written, working with frequent version updates. And lastly, our team—who normally work 9 to 5 like regular people—has to translate through the night, in two shifts from 5:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

The Solution

Two words: translation management. It all comes down to dividing labour efficiently, being organized, and fully leveraging our computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. And planning ahead as much as possible.

If a client simply came to us one afternoon and asked us to translate a few thousand words that they haven’t written yet for the next morning, we’d think they were joking. But with enough head’s up, a skilled project manager can work some serious magic.

If you’re curious, here’s the nitty-gritty of how we pull it off:

  • Hold a kick-off meeting with the client to make sure everyone is on the same page from the get-go.
  • Assign a single designated resource person for all communications with the client, as well as a designated client language expert (CLE) who approves all terminology and oversees the translation effort.
  • Separate the text into sections and assign specialized translators based on their expertise. Some sections are more legal, some more financial, and so on.
  • Make sure we have a solid term base to work with, in addition to a well-fed translation memory that automatically fills in the parts we’ve already completed when we receive a version update.
  • Hold a post-mortem to review what went well and what could have been improved so that next year’s translation goes even more smoothly.

It Never Hurts to Ask

As you can see, there’s value in working with a good translation agency. We don’t just translate your words; we also orchestrate the whole process to run smoothly and efficiently while you sit back and relax (or while you frantically finish writing the text we’re translating—as the case may be).

We don’t pull all-nighters often, but as a rare event it’s a fun challenge. Our project managers love being able to make the most of their organization skills, and our translators enjoy the camaraderie of a nuit blanche.

So, if you have a translation request that’s a bit… different, feel free to get in touch and find out how we can help. More likely than not, you’ll find that we have the people, tools and expertise to make it happen.

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