The duration of the QA phase will depend on the number of steps involved in the project, the complexity of the project and various other factors.
In general, the actual translation phase is followed by a revision phase during which reviewers check the translation against the original text to ensure that the terminology is appropriate, the customer’s requirements have been met, spelling and grammar are correct, text flows naturally and is adapted to the target audience (in terms of style, cultural references and register), etc. The revision phase may be directly followed by a linguistic QA phase.
In the case of documentation, for instance, the linguistic QA phase will be followed by a DTP (desktop publishing) phase in which the target document is formatted to match the original layout in terms of font type, size and colour, paragraph and line breaks, character spacing, alignment, bulleted lists, illustrations, etc.). Once the DTP phase is completed, “DTP QA” will be performed to ensure that the target layout matches the original layout, in line with the customer’s requirements.
In some cases, to save time, the two previously mentioned QA phases may be combined, in which case the document would first be DTPed and then linguistic and DTP QA performed at the same time. Thus, QA tasks might first be performed by a linguist then immediately afterwards by someone else with a more technical profile. However, both sets of tasks may well be performed by the same person (for instance a senior translator) if they are sufficiently qualified to do so.
Finally, for various reasons, the QA phase of the translation project may be omitted altogether.
Deciding whether or not QA should be performed depends on several factors,
- Type of project: very easy, small projects might not require a QA phase. A linguistic review may suffice, or one could even assume that the translator alone can guarantee the quality of the translation. In some cases, when the layout work has been carried out by technically proficient DTP staff, DTP or illustration checks may not be needed.
- Subject of the project: most translated content will usually require revision, but in some cases linguistic QA may not be required, e.g., a technical translation in which the reviewer has strong technical and linguistic skills.
- Customer: some customers are extremely demanding and insist on the highest standard of quality; some may even require evidence that the various types of QA tasks have been performed during the project. Others may focus less on quality but more on prompt delivery, for instance when a quick translation is needed for internal communication.
- Volume: the larger projects are, the more difficult it is to guarantee uniform quality and consistency. Indeed, large projects usually require the involvement of several people. For example, in a large translation project, the actual translation work may be assigned to 12 translators, the revision phase to 3 reviewers and the DTP phase to 3 people. In this case, linguistic and DTP QA will not only help to improve quality but will also ensure greater consistency in the work produced by the various participants.
- Resources: if the translation or revision phases are assigned to highly experienced linguists, who have worked for a long time for the same customer and/or on the same subject, a linguistic QA phase might be superfluous. The same applies to highly experienced DTP staff, whose work may not need to be double-checked.
- Schedule: implementing QA sometimes requires extending deadlines. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to extend a project deadline, in which case the QA phase may have to be omitted.
- Budget: QA costs money. People performing QA tasks have to be paid, and on certain projects, in light of the QA results, some of the work may need to be done again. Additional steps will always mean additional costs, and in some cases they will simply not be possible due to budget limitations.