As we approach the end of this series of articles expanding on Ensuring Effective Translations, the next set of tips are to help you make sure that the final formal approval of the translation goes as planned.
Once the translation reviews have been completed and all edits are agreed, the final translation needs to be approved. There are two things to consider at this point – who will approve the translation and how will this approval manifest itself.
These two aspects are probably influenced by the type of material being translated and the usual approach to document approval in your company. If the translated material is for internal use only and the impact of error is not of great significance, then the approval process will likely be relatively informal. However, when the translation is for an external audience and accuracy is paramount, for example pharmaceutical labelling or legal documents, a strict and formal approval process should be considered.
Who should approve the translation?
We can expect that the person who prepared the translation and the person who reviewed it should both be approvers of the finalised document.
However, the question is should anyone else be involved as approvers? Should the project manager from your company be an approver? This may be particularly important where both the creator and reviewer of the translation are not employees of your company. You may wish to have a document being used by your company to be approved by an employee of the company.
Do you need other functional approvers to comply with any document approval rules or common practices within your company? Are there certain functions, for example quality assurance, that must approve certain types of documents? If there are, you may need to prepare approval matrices that show who should be involved in approving what documents to guide your project managers.
As well as defining who should be an approver, you also need to consider what they are approving. By nature, these documents are in a foreign language, therefore, there is a potential risk that many roles considered to be approvers cannot read nor understand the content in a foreign language. You therefore need to consider what it is that they would be approving. It could be that the process has been followed correctly and all outstanding issues have been addressed. It could also be to check specific items on content not affected by the translation, for example the correct use of trademarks and registration symbols. We would contest that there is little value in someone approving a document where they have no comprehension of the content. Therefore, you need to consider why someone needs to be an approver; what it is that they are expected to approve; and how they will be capable of doing this.
How is the approval performed?
The second consideration is how the approval manifests itself. Again, there may be specific processes or systems in your company that dictate what you need to follow. However, if not, you need to consider the required level of formality and the need of an audit trail for the final approval.
Regarding the formality of the approval, there are probably two ends to the spectrum. On one hand, it may be appropriate to have an informal approval confirming that the translation is acceptable for use from each required individual. This may take the form of a verbal message or email and has basically become a formal audit trail.
On the other hand, it may be required to have a formal recorded approval process that provides an audit trail of the final authorisation of the document. This could take the form of a signature block on the translation or an associated approval form, or an electronic signature on the file or within your document management system. This is obviously a more onerous requirement.
It can therefore be seen that the type of approval should be appropriate with the type of document translated. The degree of rigour and formality applied to the approval process should increase as the significance of the document and the impact of error increases.
The next article will be the final in this series, we will look at – Securely store approved files and build translation memory; ensure effective document management and how to start building a library of standard phrases.
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