How to Plan a Large Translation Project

November 5th, 2015

Depending on the complexity of text, translating a paragraph of 100-or-so words could take between 10 minutes and half an hour.

How to Plan a Large Translation Project | One Hour Translation

Depending on the complexity of text, translating a paragraph of 100-or-so words could take between 10 minutes and half an hour. And following this same logic, it can take between 30 minutes to an hour to translate an entire page of around 400 words in Microsoft Word. In a general and broad sense these are the times that a conventional translation of plain text might imply. Keeping these terms in mind, it’s not too difficult, then, to calculate the deadline for a translation project that is larger in scale.

It’s Not Always Straight-Forward Calculating a Translation Deadline

But, what happens when the translation requires different steps? What if this is a very large project and several translators are required? What if the text supplied requires pre-editing or formatting, or even the step of linguistic pre-editing? What if DTP is necessary – or even final quality control? There may be HTML files to be processed at a later time with the IT department. It’s these aspects of translation where calculating a deadline becomes complicated.

Planning is the Project Manager’s Task

This means that it’s essential to plan very carefully for every stage of these major projects. The Project Manager should be the person handling this task, and the person who should take ownership of the project, ensuring the appropriate steps are carried out according to the deadline.

It’s during the all-important planning stage that the Project Manager should take into account all factors that will directly affect the quality of the project, like the customer’s deadline, text complexity, number of files, available resources, format, and so on. Every one of these variables determines planning. Typically, the planning will be completed prior to the commencement of the project, however, some agencies complete a preliminary plan before a project is started, which is very useful when quoting translation projects.

Regardless of whether you plan the project prior to commencing the translation, or when quoting for the client, careful planning is essential for large projects that often require many steps and resources.

Planning Tools

There are tools available that can be extremely useful for carrying out effective planning. One tool is the MS Project, which is quite easy to use. It’s similar to an Excel spreadsheet, allowing you to list every step involved in a translation project – editing, proofreading, translation, DTP, and so on; which, when following basic formulas can be linked in ways that make them dependent on each other. This allows accurate planning of the project, which will be dependent on the resources available and the steps which must be followed.

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