Defining Your Language Quality Goals: A Simple Guide for Success

Would you head into the wilderness without a compass, GPS, or map? Only if you want to get lost with no easy way home! 

The same goes for language quality management (LQM). To end up in the right place, you need well-constructed goals for assessing the linguistic quality of translations. That’s the key to a smooth-running LQM process that improves localization, whether you keep reviews in-house or outsource to a third-party provider.  

Here are some tips on defining your goals, so you can ensure the right quality outcomes for your localization program.  

  1. Establish the Parameters

First, establish the parameters for your LQM program. By understanding how these factors affect your decisions, you can set more realistic aims and objectives. 

Stakeholders: Understand the needs of all stakeholders, including end users, customers, and internal teams (such as marketing, sales, or legal). In this way, you can define goals that meet the expectations of everyone involved and prioritize accordingly.

Timeline: Determine your timeline—not just for specific projects, but also for setting up your entire LQM program. Among other things, this enables you to understand your constraints. For example, a compressed schedule could affect how you define your project’s minimum quality goals.   

Resources: If you’re heading into the woods, you don’t want to run out of provisions! Likewise, you’ll want to ensure you can execute whatever goals you set for your program. Identify what resources you can allocate to language quality reviews and assurance, including your budget and team.

  1. Define Your Overall Strategic Goals

Once you’ve established the context, the next step is to define your strategic goals—that is, your big-picture aims for localization and language quality. Without this understanding, you’ll struggle to define linguistic and technical goals that make sense for your organization.

Business goals: What are you trying to achieve for your business? For example, are you seeking to penetrate new markets, enhance the user experience, or boost overseas sales? Are you aiming at a specific objective—say, a 10 percent increase in regional market share? The more specific you are about these ultimate goals, the more you can tailor your linguistic quality goals to your organization’s definition of success.

Audience-specific goals: Next, specify the target audience you aim to reach with your specific localization project. To optimize the quality of translations, you need to understand who you are addressing and who your end user is. If your goal is to optimize engagement, your language requires a tone or voice that is clear and resonates with them on a personal level. 

Content-specific goals: Building on your business and audience goals, you can then establish objectives for each type of content being localized. For instance, persuasive marketing content may call your target audience to action, while technical content may provide clear, accurate information. Your LQM program should ensure each piece of content serves its purpose and responds to your audience’s preferences. 

Process goals: Process goals focus on enhancing your localization workflow and its outcomes. By analyzing past performance, you can identify areas that require improvement and set specific objectives to address these challenges. For instance, process goals may involve reducing bottlenecks or error rates, streamlining tasks, or optimizing the localization process for greater efficiency. 

  1. Define Your Linguistic and Technical Goals 

All set on your strategic goals? Let’s zero in on the specific linguistic and technical goals that will guide the review and assessment process. 

Linguistic priorities: First, decide which dimensions of quality you want to prioritize, based on your strategic goals. This choice will shape your quality metrics and scoring methods, so it’s important to get it right. 

For instance, accuracy and consistent terminology may be the most important qualities to emphasize in technical translations. Fluency, on the other hand, could be central to a digital marketing campaign that seeks to engage and persuade your target audience. You might consider other dimensions of quality as well, depending on your language quality framework.  

Voice and style goals: Is a certain voice or style essential to your localization project? If so, specify your goals for this aspect of language quality. You may want to maintain a consistent brand voice across all your localized content—or a given type of content could aim at a particular style, such as “clear and professional” or “playful and fun.” Clarity about these goals will help you provide language quality reviewers with the right resources for the project (such as voice and style guides). 

Minimum quality goals: By defining your minimum quality goals for localized materials, you can navigate the tradeoff between speed, cost, and quality. Different content may call for varying levels of quality. Some types of content may only need to be free of major errors, while others demand a consistently high standard across the board. If your assessment process uses pass-fail scoring, your minimum quality goals will help you set your threshold for success.

Make sure to differentiate between content types and consider who the end users are, as well as the sensitivity of the content. For instance, marketing materials and web content are highly visible and have a direct impact on your brand image. As a result, they almost always require intensive assessment and a high passing score.

Quality tracking goals: To optimize the performance of your localization team, set your goals for tracking and measuring quality over time. 

The frequency and intensity may vary with your process and minimum quality goals. Some types of content may require only periodic or partial sampling. Others may require more frequent and thorough evaluation—with sampling rates ranging from 10 to 100 percent, depending on the sensitivity of the material. 

Regardless, you’ll want to ensure that all feedback is not just measured, but also implemented with each round of translations, and that any legacy content is updated as well. 

Start Your Journey on the Right Path

When you define clear goals for your language quality program, you ensure your efforts are headed in the right direction from the start. That enables you to take the key steps in building an efficient, effective quality review and assessment process:

  • Develop comprehensive quality metrics, framework, methods, and standards.
  • Create and update resources for reviewers, such as style guides and glossaries. 
  • Identify minimum quality thresholds for localized content, based on your quality goals and content types.
  • Determine the exact frequency of quality tracking (weekly, monthly, or annual) and your sampling rates. 
  • Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) objectives for optimizing your localization efforts.
  • Observe trends and monitor the evolution of language quality over time.

As your needs evolve, so will your language quality goals. Remember to review and update them every year, quarter, or even month, depending on the project. By keeping your process flexible and scalable, you can navigate any terrain in your voyage to high-quality localization.