Best practices for language service providers

by Reinhild Möller

There may not be a secret recipe for making everything in the world better, but at least in the world of interpreters and translators, a big step towards successful collaboration has been taken: The Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ) has bundled a wealth of industry knowledge and compiled proven processes, methods and procedure into a 400-page reference guide. The guide, entitled “Best Practices – Übersetzen und Dolmetschen. Ein Nachschlagewerk aus der Praxis für Sprachmittler und Auftraggeber” (Best practices –translating and interpreting. A reference guide for language mediators and customers), was released in early 2017 and is aimed at anyone involved with these types of services: Translators and interpreters as the service providers, agencies as the mediators and companies, authorities and organisations as the customers.


Target groups and range of themes

The reference guide looks at all the key topics that crop up when working on translation and interpreting projects. As a practical guide for language mediators and customers, it answers questions on choosing a translator, the translation process, evaluation methods, tools, and much more. The methods and practices described have proven their worth in the industry and should be understood as recommendations rather than the only real solutions available. The substantial number of authors (more than 40) represents a cross section of the whole industry.
Various target groups benefit from the best practices:

  • Newcomers to the profession who want to gain a good foothold right from the start and establish themselves on the market as translators or interpreters
  • Experienced freelancers who want better-structured and more professional processes
  • Agencies who want to optimise their processes so that they focus on the customer even more
  • Customers who are looking for expert language service providers and want to know the basis for ensuring that they provide optimal Services

How exact! plays a role

The editor of the best practices is Angelika Ottmann, founder and former managing director of exact!. Angelika had been toying with the idea of taking on a mammoth project like this for a while. When looking for suitable authors with practical experience, it thus seemed obvious to consult the expertise of exact!, which she helped to develop. So I was more than happy to contribute to the best practices my knowledge and experience as a translator and reviser.

At exact!, third-party revisions (dual control principle) have always been firmly integrated into the processes. We examined this topic in depth to prevent between between translators and revisers and to ensure that revisions actually result in a better translation. I was thus able to describe these processes very well based on our tried-and-tested working methods and contribute section 3.4 Korrektorat/Lektorat/Revision (proofreading/editing/revision) to the BDÜ guide.


Best practices are a key topic in the MDÜ

Due to the high demand for the new guide, best practices were made a key topic of the “MDÜ – Fachzeitschrift für Dolmetscher und Übersetzer” (a professional journal for interpreters and translators). Naturally, I was very happy that my article was chosen as the cover story (Korrektorat/Lektorat/Revision – Der letzte Schliff; English: proofreading/editing/revision). It’s a nice feeling when others find something you have written interesting and useful. So the main objective has been achieved: If those involved take the best practices to heart and implement them accordingly, this eases collaboration between agencies and freelancers as well as between language service providers and customers. If you know the work processes and requirements of those you are working with, you can respond better and ensure that services are a success.

For the best practices to remain an up-to-date reference guide, they need to be developed on an ongoing basis. After all, the world of interpreters and translators does not stand still, but is ever changing thanks to new technologies and tasks. It is thus essential that our guide be revised and updated continuously.


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