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The Role of Translation in Contract Negotiation

In today’s Guest Blog, Alexander Zeller from Migration Translators comments on the supply chain for translation projects, how they occur, and how they are used in projects such as those involving contract negotiation.

Increasingly, the translation of web pages is becoming rooted in the virtual world but translation of contracts is becoming a much more important factor in negotiations.  In fact, there exists a translation supply chain, defined as the communication methods used to access translation contract projects and deliver them.

Before the rise of the internet and emails, translations were of course still required for many supply chain contracts and negotiations. Business documents, like overseas contracts, invoices and orders for goods sent from one country to another had to be translated.  In addition, the translation of personal documents required for immigration or study purposes in an overseas country for ex-pats to go abroad was often required.

The main issues were more to do with security than anything else, as much of the sending and receiving of documents would have been through the use of state postal systems which in faraway places may be both slow and unreliable. The translation supply chain involves transferring the source text to the translators and sending the two documents back to the clients, in an iterative fashion.

Today corporations requiring translations use a ‛virtual supply chain’ that enables both the contracting company’s staff responsible for translations to communicate with the translator. Once a client has sent the requirements for a translation project, the contracting team gathers together the necessary resources and sets the project in motion. The first step is finding the translator with the right subject matter expertise who is available to take on the project.  Contracts include translating not only legal terms, but technical terms as well.  Each translation company will have a pool of the best translators they can find in different areas, who may be located in many parts of the world. Those involved in the supply chain have to ensure the translators are performing given translation tasks to the best of their ability.

After a translator begins a job he or she will be asked to provide a sample of the translation so far which is likely to be between 400 and 1,200 words. This is sent on to an independent reviewer who will assign a score based on the quality and accuracy of the translation.

Clients can choose their own reviewer and which might include a contractor in their supply chain. Software is not used but a human reviewer assesses the quality. Once the reviewer has completed the review comments they are sent to the person managing the project, who will pass them on to the translator responsible for the project.

The translator can dispute any comments made by the reviewer and an assurance is given to the client that the translation is of high quality. In the end a score is given which is kept in a confidential database which is continually updated. This ensures that translation companies are using the best translators to complete their client’s requirements.

Effective process quality management is required to achieve reliable translating outcomes in the translation industry is an integral and crucial part of the whole translation process. The project manager is the key person who manages the relationships that have to exist between contract managers, reviewers and translators. They ensure that the appropriate payments are made to all those working within the supply chain, and that translations occur according to plan.  As contracts are reviewed and modified, ongoing management has to occur.

Beyond electronic means like emails, there are emerging suites of software that help to ensure that document exchanges occur smoothly.  Translation will continue to be an important component of contract management in the supply chain.