Traditional translation models include many human touch points that slow down project efficiency and increase translation costs as well as prolonging turnaround times. It also helps reduce production tasks such as file analysis, legacy translation leverage, project quotation creation, translator assignment, weekly updates, desktop publishing, file delivery, and invoicing and payment that have routinely been carried out by specially trained project managers, localization engineers, and DTP publishers. This labor intensive manual work not only extends the project schedule, leading to higher costs but also leads to potential human errors.
The good news is that regardless of the type of content that needs translation such as medical, technical, legal, or financial documents, the mechanical steps involved to properly localize the materials into the target languages largely remain the same and repetitive. This is where translation process automation can come in to achieve higher productivity and better consistency.
Online Translation Ecosystem
At Stepes, we have created an online translation ecosystem that optimizes various localization processes and automates many of the labor-intensive tasks. Our online dashboard allows our customers to upload project files and receive instant project estimates while leveraging from translation memories. Upon approval, the projects kick off immediately with Stepes selecting from its pool of pre-approved linguists who have matching subject matter expertise. Real time translation notifications are a unique differentiator between Stepes and other online translation platforms because Stepes is the first company in the industry to introduce mobile translation technology. During the entire project, clients are able to track live translation progress at any time. Upon completion, Stepes clients can download translated files with the click of button. Better yet, they can also rate the translator’s performance so the best translators become a member of their dedicated MyTranslator team.
File Analysis Automation
File analysis is a common task within the professional localization process that scans documents in a variety of formats such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and InDesign for translatable strings. These strings are then extracted with formatting tags and control characters stripped. Next, these strings are systematically compared to legacy translated texts stored in a database called TM (translation memory.) Translation memories allow previously translated texts to be recycled or reused for cost savings, allowing for faster turnaround and better translation consistency. The file analysis will generate a report listing total word counts, new words, 100% matches and repetitions, various fuzzy matches, and if the document needs DTP, it will also list the number of pages, graphics, and screenshots used.
Traditionally, localization companies have relied on localization production engineers to perform file analysis offline to produce the final word count reports. This is because the file evaluation and text extraction processes require many different software applications to work together. In order for all of these isolated systems and applications to work together seamlessly, expert developers with deep engineering know-how (both software and hardware) and solid language experience are needed to code sophisticated algorithms to handle these complex functions. Compared to the majority of the translation houses which have very limited technical engineering background, Stepes was created from the ground up to use cutting-edge technology innovations in order to achieve translation efficiency. Stepes online translation platform is able to handle virtually all file formats, including scanned documents, audio, and video files.
The file analysis report produced in the previous step is then used to create a client quotation using standard per word rates for different language pairs such as English-Chinese, English-Spanish, or French-Japanese. The translation industry has long established the best practice to use word counts for quotation calculations. This is the most accurate method because it allows companies to more easily capture legacy translated content on a granular level to achieve the highest leverage ratio. Translation quotations are usually broken by new words, repetitions (word segments that appear multiple times within the same document,) 100% matches, 95%-99% matches, 85%-94% matches, and $75-84% matches. The translation quote may also include the number of pages that need DTP service. Traditionally, DTP took up a large part of translation project costs because translated contents must be formatted to match the source files. However, modern translation tools (CATs) are able to do a much better job preserving the original layout so the final DTP effort is minimal. In fact, if a customer uses DITA XML for creating the source documents, manual DTP can be completely eliminated.
Stepes generates translation project quotations automatically which allows our clients to receive project estimates in real time, compared to other translation companies that can only turn around quotes in 24 hours or longer. In today’s fast changing digital economy, instant translation quotes allow our customers to make important business decisions quickly, enabling them to accelerate product development and reduce time-to-market for international deployment.
Translator Assignment Automation
Linguistic resource management is one of the most critical business practices for professional language services. Translation companies by virtue of their core business work with a large number of professional freelance translators from around the world. The ability to effectively and efficiently manage these linguistic resources separates the good LSPs (language service providers) from the mediocre ones. However, linguistic resource management can also be time consuming and labor intensive. This is because evaluating vendor qualifications, negotiating rates, and managing project assignments, performing linguistic evaluations, and handling translator payments for a large number of contact translators all take substantial time. This is where Stepes excels because we have developed a highly automated online linguistic resource management platform that streamlines the entire translator provisioning process.
When a client uploads a project onto Stepes, its MyTranslator module uses the specified industry or subject matter information to match pre-approved translators automatically. Furthermore, since Stepes is the first translation company to introduce our patent-pending translation technology, the system is able to notify the selected linguists instantly on their mobile instantly. It then allows the linguists to immediately begin translating, all their smartphone or desktop computers, anywhere and anytime. At the end of each project, MyTranslator also allows the clients to rate each translator’s performance so good translators will become a part of the customer’s dedicated translation team.
Live Project Tracking
Nobody wants to be surprised to receive a note from a translation supplier on a Friday morning saying that they can’t deliver a project on time as they’ve promised. Timely project delivery has a major impact on the client product development schedule. Missed translation deliveries often lead to delayed international product launches which can translate into millions of dollars in lost revenue. Worse yet, late deployment of products and services can also lead to lost market shares that take years and substantial efforts to recover. One of the most important localization risk management best practices is the proactive administration of project tracking and monitoring in real time. However, traditional offline translation models make this aspect of risk management next to impossible to implement due to their opaque product processes. This is why you need online translation services, like Stepes, that have the ability to track live translation progress 24/7 from anywhere, on mobile and on desktop.
The Stepes online translation ecosystem provides its customers with a powerful dashboard that gives them easy access to a variety of project monitoring functions. In addition to seeing the percentage complete for each project per language, clients can also view the actual content that is being translated in real time. This allows them to proactively perform linguistic validation if needed concurrent to actual project translations, enabling our clients to detect translation issues early in the project cycle should they occur and take appropriate action quickly to prevent project delays.
Job Delivery Simplified
FTPs and email attachments have been the staple of project file deliveries for the translation industry until cloud drives like Box and Dropbox became available. FTPs require special applications which are hard to use. Email file attachments are difficult to manage and backup. Even the latest cloud drives add an additional layer of project complexity that is not completely necessary. To deliver projects using these means, the translation company’s project managers must manually upload the files leading to potential human errors with incorrect file placements, especially if the same project involves many target languages. Depending on the file transfer protocol used, sometimes files end up getting corrupted during transmission, often wasting a day or more for new uploads to arrive because of the vendor’s international time zone differences.
With Stepes, all translated files are stored on the cloud and within our clients’ online account that they can download with the click of a button. Furthermore, since the project deliveries are grouped by projects, dates, and languages, they can be easily searched and accessed at any time. Since our online based project management system has completely bypassed outdated FTP and email file transfers, we are able to achieve robust project deliveries in real time.
Billing & Invoice Automation
Most people may not realize, but a big part of translation production is the timely management of project invoices and billing. These efforts involve both the client and vendor sides. Manual project invoicing is tedious, labor intensive, and more likely to cause human errors. Manually submitted invoices also require the customer to allocate additional human resources to process these invoices by hand. Stepes has streamlined our customer payments into a fully automatic process. Our clients have the option to pay by weekly or monthly invoices, or by using a company credit card. Stepes also accepts a number of electronic payment systems such as PayPal, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Apple Pay and others. More importantly, Stepes allows our clients to easily track what they spend on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, and obtain graphical view of various finance related data points.
In addition to automating customer payments, managing translator billing and invoices is also a big part of a translation company’s regular operations. This is because translation companies tend to work with a large number of linguists from around the world, it’s quite labor intensive if a LSP has to manually process translator invoices and payments. These additional human efforts all contribute to higher service costs which the customer ultimately ends up paying for one way or another. This is why Stepes’ fully automated translator payment system is a game changer. Translators never have to manually submit invoices anymore because all project related finances are systematically handled online in real time. Translators only need to decide if and when they need to withdraw from their wallet within their Stepes accounts.