1. Tell me a little bit about your business…
My name is Laura Dent. I run a freelance technical writing business, www.lauradentwriter.com, based in Harrisonburg, Virginia and supporting clients internationally. For the past year, I’ve been working with Aker Wade whose headquarters is in Charlottesville, Virginia. Aker Wade designs, engineers and manufactures fast-charging systems for off-road electric vehicles in large-scale industrial applications, such as a fleet of forklifts on a factory floor.
2. Tell me about your role in the company?
I’ve been consulting with Aker Wade as a technical writer to update the documentation of their fast-charging equipment and software. Aker Wade had reached a tipping point in trying to maintain multiple versions of similar documents such as operating manuals, for different product lines, brands, U.S. vs. international channels, and in several languages.
The solution I created for Aker Wade is a single-sourcing system, creating a master document from which I can output up to six different variations on the same document. I use SmartDocs by ThirtySix Software, a plugin to Microsoft Word, which lets you insert variables and conditionals to produce multiple versions of the document.
First I set up the single-sourced document in English, and the next step was localization, first into Spanish and then into French, and potentially into other languages. I called Lionbridge to do the localization, based on the long working relationship I had with Lionbridge at my previous employer, Rosetta Stone.
3. What are your top business challenges today?
As a freelance technical writing consultant, I aim to provide my client companies with increased efficiency in maintaining their information delivery systems. My goals include:
- Helping my clients maintain and expand product documentation across a range of media, such as help systems, websites, and electronic documents.
- Providing clients with support for multiple brands, product lines, geographic locations, and target languages.
- Keeping up with engineering changes to multiple products with interconnected functionality and programming needs.
- Streamlining the document translation process, including support for complex single-sourcing applications.
4. Can you share a specific challenge that Lionbridge was able to help you solve?
When I called my contact at Lionbridge, he informed me that the first document I was seeking to have translated was not sufficient volume to use the traditional translation process, with a project manager, localization engineer, and translator dedicated to the project. My contact directed me to Lionbridge onDemand Translation, where I could upload the document for translation.
I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first, as I didn’t think performing immediate translation online for a large complicated document was possible, so I wondered if they were using machine translation such as Google Translate, which is not always accurate. I was assured that a native speaker would be performing the translation.
The complexity of the single-sourced document posed some challenges, with the embedded conditionals and variables using SmartDocs. It took some trial and error to figure out the process – for instance, some of the text needed to stay in English since the on-screen text of the hardware was not translated, so the instructions needed to refer to the English text. In the onDemand process, all text in the document is translated, so I had to restore the English on-screen text, followed by the translated text in parentheses – which Aker Wade’s international partners found highly satisfying.
Most importantly, since Lionbridge translated all the hidden text – all the variables, conditionals, and index entries – I was able to recreate the single-sourced document with multiple outputs in Spanish and then French with a minimum of effort. In the end I was very impressed with how accurately Lionbridge performed the translation of such a complex document.
5. What services did Lionbridge provide?
Lionbridge was able to provide onDemand Translation for the single-sourced document, translating from English to Spanish and French with an expedited turnaround time. The Lionbridge onDemand support representatives were extremely helpful and responsive. Their diligence in sorting through the issues posed by the single-sourcing system produced an ultimately satisfying result.
6. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before working with Lionbridge?
After I created the single-sourcing system in SmartDocs in English, Lionbridge onDemand provided the ability to translate and recreate the single-sourced document in the target language. The complexity of the project demanded the technical expertise of Lionbridge, and could not have been adequately addressed by a freelance translator.
Were you able to measure the impact of this change in any way?
I was able to save considerable costs for Aker Wade through the efficiency of maintaining multiple versions of the same document through the single-sourcing system I created in SmartDocs, first in English and then in the documents localized by Lionbridge. Previously, Aker Wade would have had to translate each document individually.
That means that by translating the single-source document, with six output variations, we were essentially able to get six documents translated for the price of one! Times two languages, that equals cost savings of approximately the price of ten translations, so far.
7. What is your favorite inspiring quote?
– Dave Nealon, Part 4 in a series: Optimizing the Localization Process