Purchase order for translation

Translation Quality 101. Part 4

Final arrangements before the project: purchase order

This is the fourth part of Translation Quality 101 series on ways to improve translation quality. So, you have final versions of your translation files, you have approved your terminology list and even prepared a style guide.

Should you transfer your files to the translator? Possible but not recommended. Still, one more component is missing that may be crucial for translation quality. I mean planning and agreement of your project’s components.

Why, where and who?

It’s high time to agree on:

  • Project type: marketing materials, website, technical documentation, etc.,
  • Files and volumes covered: in words, pages, hours or a flat rate for a set of files,
  • Services included: translation, transcreation, copy creation, layout, editing, and proofreading,
  • Requirements and additional materials available.

You are free to skip the stage but in that case you risk getting the result you did not expect. Time shortage, unmatched invoice, missing tasks… Careful planning is not overcommunication but a necessity here.

The key task of any translated text is to deliver the same information as in the original while triggering the same reaction of the audience. Ideally, it is the customer who decides what reaction is expected and how the target audience is defined. Obviously, the translator can make their own context-based decision but chances are it would not be exactly the same as yours.

What questions should be discussed during the planning stage?

What? What is the document about? For what task/campaign was it created?

Why? Why do you need these texts? What is their purpose?

Where? Where will the texts be published or will circulate?

Who? Who will be reading the texts? Maybe these are materials for corporate usage?

How? Additional information, reference materials, style guides, images, previously translated projects of the same scope.

It is highly advisable to have answers in a written form. This way you can be sure that by the start of the project both sides have cleared all the important technical details.

The document to follow planning

– The coherent document with technical requirements can be included into the officially signed contract as a supplement.

– The information to be approved may be attached to an email or inserted into the email body.

– Remember to store a copy of the document. It will save you time when discussing the next project.

Depending on the project, you can agree on the details using a Purchase Order for translation or a Brief if a task has a creative twist.

A purchase order is a document combining contract commitments, specifications, and cost calculation.

In any case, it is important for the parties to understand the project aims, tasks and volume clearly, estimate all the resources available, agree on a feasible delivery time and budget.

Below is a PDF template of a purchase order to be filled in the by the customer or the translator following the conversation with the customer. Irrelevant lines can be deleted and extra lines added, depending on the specifics of a project.

For creative translations, it is important to provide the translator with the background content about the brand, project objective, reach, brand tone of voice and narrative. How do you want readers to react when reading the translated text? Tone of voice and style (bold / informative / fun, relaxed, serious)?

If you need a localised product brochure with DTP, are there any contact details that will be changed for their local equivalents? If so, provide local equivalents. Any URLs to localise? Should currencies and measurements be converted? (Usually, yes.)

Purchase Order: download a template here

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