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Do you want to organize translators’ queries once and for all – in a comprehensible and traceable way? Without relying on any Excel lists or other makeshift documents, which are never seen by everyone in the translation chain? Do you also want to improve the quality of the translations and source texts at the same time?
Here you can watch a short video on smartQuery.

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smartQuery is a collaborative web-based workflow system that allows you to easily enter, edit, delegate, answer, archive, search, and re-use translator queries.

smartQuery – Harness the Potential of Translator Queries

Everyone involved is kept in the loop: A user-specific task list gives each user a concise overview of the queries assigned to them with open questions, answers, comments, etc. Alternatively, each user can have a complete overview of all the queries for ongoing projects or use the search screen to search the entire query database – all according to their authorizations. When logging a new query, the database is always searched automatically. If a query for the search term is already in the system, the user can check that query and, if it has not yet been answered, subscribe to it. Queries that are relevant for a whole team in multiple languages can be pushed to all team members by the project manager.

Of course information stored in queries is not lost after a project is closed. All terminology queries are efficiently captured for reuse through links with SDL MultiTerm and our proprietary tool quickTerm. In addition, queries that involve relevant information about the source document can be bundled and relayed to the authors or contacts on the client side after the project is over. The resulting feedback loop contributes immensely to optimizing the overall translation process. In a nutshell: The systematic and pragmatic approach of smartQuery transforms a formerly bothersome process by improving translation quality and lowering costs.

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Flexible and
Adaptable

smartQuery uses a sophisticated and configurable workflow concept based on user roles. A task can be delegated to translators, project managers, clients, or subject matter experts. You can configure as many workflow “routes”, steps and hierarchies for each client or vendor within these four roles as you like.

For user, group, and workflow management, smartQuery can be implemented in two different ways:

  • On the one hand, you can configure all users, groups, organizations and projects in the integrated administration environment of smartQuery.
  • On the other hand, if your company has one of the industry standard project management systems which manages users, vendors, clients, and projects, then you can use the smartQuery PM Interface. That way, smartQuery directly reads the data from those systems and you do not have to manage it twice.
  • If you use a different project management system, or you’ve developed your own, our interface is flexible enough to be adapted to virtually any third-party system.

In both cases, smartQuery always lets you configure fields, categories, workflow routes, etc.

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The Basic Idea

With their flair for languages, translators are excellent usability testers for all kinds of texts. Translator queries frequently inform authors of anomalies in texts, therefore it makes perfect sense to use translator queries in order to improve the source text quality.

Other types of translator queries are terminological issues. With smartQuery you can include these queries in your termbase to increase the reach of your terminology, saving significant costs. Missing terminology costs time and money, both of which have a negative impact on translation projects for the client. However, translator queries so far were always considered a “necessary evil” that create work and slow down the translation process. Rarely were they seen as a potential to improve the source text and the translation quality!

Together with Austria’s largest LSP, eurocom, Kaleidoscope decided to tackle this issue. In the process, we came up with clever answers to questions such as: How can you manage queries in a collaborative, web-based environment? How can you re-use queries as term candidates and forward suggestions to the authors to improve the source texts? How can you create statistics on queries for a single client and perhaps discover and address specific problems systematically? How can you use translator queries to improve the translation quality in an effective way?

The Foundation

Because a scientific foundation for query management was lacking, the first step was to run a master thesis project with the University of Vienna to review and categorize large amounts of query data. Two large eurocom clients were used as the basis: 1,080 query forms as well as all the e-mail traffic about queries from projects within this time period made up the corpus for analysis. The majority of all issues (about 80%) were terminology queries. The “other” queries were about the process itself, for instance issues with translator guidelines or with the source text itself.

At the same time, a pilot project concerning query workflow was conducted with another large client of eurocom and revealed some additional insights into the workflow design. The data from this pilot, together with the findings of the thesis project fed into the architecture of the smartQuery workflow solution.

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smartQuery Workflows

smartQuery allows you to define as many stages for managing the query workflow as you need. “Organizations” and “workflow paths” can also be specified in smartQuery.

All organizations and users are assigned four predefined roles:

Translators

Translators can submit queries, have an option to delegate “internally”, and can ultimately transfer queries to the language service provider’s project manager. They can also “follow” queries made by other translators if they wish to be informed of the answers to these.

Project managers

Project managers can accept queries and then either return them to the translators (for instance because the question is unclear), answer them directly, or delegate them to the client. They can also start feedback loops. These are designed to push existing queries from one translator to other translators, but also to send a collection of queries to the client (e.g. to highlight errors in the source text at the end of a project).

Clients

Clients can either accept the queries and return them to the project manager, answer them, or assign them to a specialist. Clients have full flexibility in creating specialists in the system. Alternatively, clients can start feedback loops, for example to draw attention to errors or to provide information about texts.

Specialists

Specialists can accept queries from the client and either return or answer them. Once the project manager receives the client´s reply, they can add further information for the translator and answer the query. Finally, the translator confirms that they have received the answer and implemented it in the translation. When configuring smartQuery, you can also define how many hierarchical roles the system offers and the names of these roles. This makes it possible to implement more complex hierarchies, such as: translator -> main translator -> project manager -> query manager -> client -> specialist. The logic in each role remains the same: Users can always either return a query, answer it, or delegate it to another user.

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Types of Queries

Not every query is the same. Based on the master thesis project we commissioned with the University of Vienna, smartQuery differentiates between three types of queries:

These can be logged by translators or project managers and are categorized as follows:

Terminological Queries

  • Incomprehensible source term
  • New translation suggestion
  • Request for approval of target-language translation suggestion
  • Abbreviation
  • Proper name, label, software option, slogan
  • Inconsistent source text
  • Inconsistent target-language references

Some fields in the query might already be pre-filled if you are using smartQuery with an interface to a project management system. Also, you will only be able to choose the project which you are currently assigned to. You can define these categories freely as well as all the fields for a query and the access rights.

Process Queries

Queries that do not relate to terminology may refer to the process itself, for example problems with the instructions, style guides, or the source text – more specifically incomplete sentences, typographical errors, deviation from terminology guidelines, technical problems, etc. This type of query can be submitted by all roles.

Feedback Loops

The feedback query category includes information that although does not pose a problem for translation, is still worthy of note. Project managers and clients can initiate these feedback loops; however, a project manager has more options at their disposal than a client. Feedback loops started by a client can only contain a specific message. It will be visible to both project managers and translators. Feedback is always visible in the “My view” area for each user. In addition, users always have to acknowledge feedback by marking it as “read”. The user who created the feedback loop can check the read status at any time.

If the feedback loop is initiated by the project manager, then it can be directed either to the translators or to clients (or both). In addition to free text, feedback loops can also contain specific queries relating to a project. To add queries, project managers can mark the relevant queries as “inform client feedback” or “inform translator feedback” when creating a feedback loop. All queries can be assigned as many comments as you like and all actions are saved in real time. This enables all questions, answers, and comments to be fully tracked and documented throughout the process.

Our Solution

Turn queries into knowledge, improve translation quality, and reduce time and costs with smartQuery: our simple and fast solution for query tracking! As a web-based portal for processing, archiving, searching and reusing translator queries, smartQuery involves everyone – from the translator to the project manager, the client and their experts. Queries are archived and can be searched and reused. As a result, knowledge is never lost and clients or their experts need never have to answer the same question twice.

smartQuery uses a push function to communicate important queries that are also relevant for other languages to all team members. All these functions help save time, while improving efficiency and quality. The same is true of feedback loops for translators, project managers, and clients. What’s more, the connection to SDL MultiTerm and our quickTerm tool ensures terminology queries are made available for future projects. In addition, queries that involve important information pertaining to the original document can be bundled and relayed to the authors on the client side once the project is complete.

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Functions:

  • Three views for queries “My view” showing all the queries currently assigned to you; “Tracking” containing all open queries and numerous filtering options; the “Search” screen allowing you to search for queries in the database depending on your user rights
  • Log and categorize queries according to predefined, customizable criteria
  • Answer, return, and delegate queries between translators, project managers, clients, and specialists using configurable workflow paths
  • Have translators confirm each answered query
  • Get a project overview with all open and closed queries per project and client
  • Push language-independent queries and answers to the entire project team in all target languages
  • Report issues in the source text back to the authors in a structured manner
  • Subscribe to open queries submitted by other translators in order to receive the answer when they do
  • Excel-export and re-import of running queries in order to edit them offline
  • Re-use answered terminology queries as term candidates in quickTerm or as a TBX export for termbases
  • Import existing queries from an Excel file
  • Connect to a project management system’s user management area to ensure data about projects, file names, clients, language combinations, etc. is consistent

Advantages

Benefits for all involved: Every participant has access to smartQuery at the same time and can deal with queries in real time. Two key features make this possible: Collaborative access in smartQuery is via the web and tasks can be delegated using a real-time and traceable workflow.

This makes smartQuery much more efficient than file-based systems by definition, especially for the client. Query searches can be made across all projects or restricted to a single client, enabling targeted knowledge management whilst ensuring confidentiality is maintained. smartQuery thus also has a positive impact on customer retention.

Benefits for terminology management: Terminology queries are identified as such from the very beginning and can be transferred to SDL MultiTerm or Kaleidoscope’s quickTerm. Benefits for the authors: Queries marked with “Inform client feedback” can be collated at the end of a project and sent to the authors. The resulting feedback loop on the source text enables a gradual improvement of the overall process.

The smartQuery Video

Here you can watch a short video on smartQuery and how you can manage your translator queries.

Now you would like to know everything about smartQuery? Nothing could be easier!

We are happy to provide information or host a Webinar for you.


System Requirements

The following system requirements must be met in order for smartQuery to be installed:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or 2008. It is also possible to use the Express edition
  • We recommend Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio (Express) for the initial database creation.
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) Version 6.0 or higher. When using IIS7 on 64 bit servers, please make sure the 32 bit mode is enabled. We recommend setting up a separate application pool for smartQuery
  • ASP.NET ISAPI extension must be enabled
  • On the client computers, smartQuery operates with Internet Explorer (version 7 or higher), Firefox (version 3.6 or higher), or Google Chrome. JavaScript must be enabled. smartQuery has not been tested in other browsers
  • If you want to export queries to Microsoft Excel, then Microsoft Excel must be installed on the server

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