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How to deal with questions during a translation project

It is never easy to ask questions, mostly because they take time to be answered or are even ignored. In spite of this, asking questions and getting answers is necessary to deliver quality work. Here are the best practices when dealing with questions, as a project participant and as a project manager.

  • Dealing with questions as a project participant (translator, reviser, etc.)

Your main objective must be to make your questions clear and relevant so clients can answer them without having to invest too much time in it.

Firstly, try to make sure that your question has never been answered. This should be easy if all project participants share a query file. After this verification, always use the question template your client provided, or your translation agency’s, and fill it carefully. Regroup several questions under a single topic when they can be generalized. If the project is multilingual, write your questions in the main communication language. It will make them easier to share among the teams. You should also adapt your questions to the recipient’s language level, especially if they are a non-native speaker. If you phrase them with difficult wording, it will require clients to invest more time in answering.

Most importantly, make all questions complete and explicit so clients can answer promptly, the best being “yes or no” questions. Finally, when it is relevant, you should add context to your questions by inserting a paragraph that can facilitate understanding. 

  • Dealing with questions as a translation project manager

Most of the advice covered previously also applies to translation project managers. However, your role is also to ease communication and be an efficient link between project participants and clients.

When teams send you questions, read each one carefully before sending them to the client. Make sure that all of them are understandable, that the tone used is appropriate, and that the template is filled properly. Delete any duplicate questions. If you feel that you can answer some of them yourself, don’t hesitate to do so!

Even though it’s preferable to send questions as soon as possible, always take time to group them to avoid flooding the client with too many emails. Once the client has dealt with the questions, check carefully to ensure that the answers are all clear and none are missing. Then, it is up to you to decide wether it is more appropriate to communicate answers individually or collectively. If some answers could be useful to everyone, it could be very helpful to create a reference folder for each client containing all the questions that have already been answered.

Even though it is time consuming, dealing with questions properly and carefully is worth the effort. Asking the right questions and making sure everyone involved gets relevant answers is crucial for a good end result.