What does it mean to be a freelance 'Quality Manager'?
Thread poster: Madeline Robinson

Madeline Robinson
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:56
Italian to English
Jan 12

Hello Everybody,

I was hoping for a little moral support and general advice on this subject. I have recently been offered this position by a company to check documents on the topic of 'life sciences'. I am a History of Art graduate and so I am slightly concerned that this will be a great challenge - has anybody done work like this in the past?

The company has told me that: "as a Quality Manager, you would have to: 1) Ensure translated documents mirror the original source document. 2) Ensure that directions were followed and if not, find out why and fix it. 3) Personally ensure the quality of the documents before they are delivered to the client. It sounds like quite dry work, but I would welcome any contradictions to this point of view! Is it trickier than straightforward translation?

The company is also asking for my 'best offer (in dollars) for Quality Management per hour'. This is where I really get stuck. I am new to translation and so am working at the (relatively low, I believe?) rate of £100 per 1000 English words (IT > EN) for translation. Should Quality Management cost less or more than translation? I want to get a fair price for this work, as I anticipate that researching Life Sciences will be tough. What would you suggest?

Thank you all in advance for your replies. I really appreciate the support.

MRobin


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:56
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My two cents Jan 12

I have no experience of being the overall quality manager, but I do take responsibility for ensuring the quality of target texts for some agencies - although as I only check the target I can't say anything about the accuracy of translation! I don't even accept responsibility for English jargon terms; just flow, style and register, and of course the more straightforward aspects of spelling, punctuation and grammar. That means I can polish texts whose meaning I don't fully comprehend - subjects such as quantum mechanics, concrete breaking strains, plastics moulding procedures, oil-well drilling equipment - even if all I can do on occasions is point out that the sentence needs reworking!

madelinerobin wrote:
Should Quality Management cost less or more than translation? I want to get a fair price for this work, as I anticipate that researching Life Sciences will be tough.

A lot of people would say it's a more skilled and more responsible job, so it should be paid at a higher rate. It's a valid argument, as is the one that says clients with bigger budgets should pay more.

Personally, I reckon that an hour of my time is worth the same whatever I'm doing for my clients. As an example, monolingual transcription is basically audio typing - a rather lowly paid job. I (used to) offer it at my normal hourly rate - which is probably higher than a typical audio-typist's hourly rate - because the client chose to come to me rather than to an audio-typist, and that's what my time is worth to me. But then I really do charge for my time, not for the time a client expects the job to take. I have had clients who've wanted me to do X words of QA or X minutes of transcription in Y number of hours, but that's a non-starter. They can't know how long it will take me to do a good job I can take responsibility for! I'll happily prepare a quote for a new client, consisting of a maximum time spend, and then I'll invoice for the actual time taken up to that maximum. But for a long-term relationship, I need the client to begin to trust me for similar jobs.

So, when you say that the research will be tough, I would just say that perhaps you should bear that in mind when you estimate the number of hours needed, rather than adjusting the rate per hour. Personally, I sell my services to clients on the basis of an anticipated long-term relationship. I speed up somewhat as I get familiar with the subject matter, writing style, etc., while they (the writers or translators) get to learn from the changes I make and start to write texts that take less time to revise. It's a win/win situation! Conversely, if an agency takes on a translator who produces abysmal English, why should I be the one to suffer?


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What QM is (or can be) Jan 12

madelinerobin wrote:
The company has told me that: "as a Quality Manager, you would have to: 1) Ensure translated documents mirror the original source document. 2) Ensure that directions were followed and if not, find out why and fix it. 3) Personally ensure the quality of the documents before they are delivered to the client.


I do "QM" work for a few clients, but what it means depends on the client.

For my clients who require "TEP", the "P" usually means QM. The P-task ("proofreader") is the third person in the set (though sometimes the translator gets to do this) and his job is to check that the translation's final file formatting matches that of the original source file, that language conventions are adhered to, that the text looks tidy, and that any special instructions were followed (e.g. the client may have said "do not translate country names").

For a few of my other clients, the translation process is TPPP (translation, first proofreading, second proofreading, and final proofreading). The second and final proofreading stages are then often referred to as "QM#1" and "QM#2". During QM1 (i.e. second proofreading), the QM person checks all segments in a CAT tool format. It may be extensive editing or it may simply be a quick check. The QM2 person (i.e. final proofreading) then checks the output file against the original source file. Again, this may include checking special instructions from the client.

In your case, I'm a little concerned about #3 ("personally ensure the quality of the documents") unless the client means "overall tidiness" when he says "quality". Otherwise this might mean that you're forced to do an extensive edit on the files anyway, to "ensure" the quality.

The first two tasks mentioned by your client involve basically no actual editing. If the translator/proofreader did their job properly, the QM task will be quick.

The company is also asking for my 'best offer (in dollars) for Quality Management per hour'.


I would suggest charging 1.5 times your usual hourly rate. The client is likely to get back to you several times to ask your advice about something in the text, or to double-check something, or to explain something, or to redo something, and it can be difficult to [figure out how to] charge for such additional little sessions.

For at least one of my clients, I charge a per-word QM rate that is about half of my usual per-word proofreading rate (which is 1/3 of my translation rate), but it works out to about the same amount if converted to an hourly rate. This would depend on your client's type of texts, though.

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Personally, I reckon that an hour of my time is worth the same whatever I'm doing for my clients.


That is true, but some jobs take a greater toll on the body and mind.


[Edited at 2018-01-12 19:28 GMT]


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:56
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Quality Jan 12

madelinerobin wrote:

Hello Everybody,

I have recently been offered this position by a company to check documents on the topic of 'life sciences'. I am a History of Art graduate and so I am slightly concerned that this will be a great challenge ...


You are selling your expertise, not just your time. This includes subject matter knowledge. Maybe something to think about.


 

Madeline Robinson
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:56
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Great advice Jan 15

Thank you everybody for your views - I really appreciate the time you have all taken to help me out about this. I will take it all into consideration. Best wishes

 


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