Meeting deadlines is a reality for most professionals. We live the world of targets and deadlines and we work tirelessly to meet them.
For companies these targets are goals to achieve. It can be the number of cases processed or contracts signed. For other professionals like translators, deadlines mark the end of the timeframe set for them to complete a certain job.
There are positive and negative aspects of these deadlines, depending on how we see them and how we set them. The reality is, we need to be sensible about them and that is a fundamental point in this subject.
Your reputation on the line
For translators, meeting deadlines is very important. In fact, our job is highly dependent on deadlines because that’s how our clients rely on us. We need to have efficient turnaround times in order to be recognised and preferred by our clients.
If we don’t meet our deadlines it’s our reputation as professionals that is on the line. To our clients it is seen as a lack of professionalism. In reality, it is, because if we commit to a certain deadline, we should meet that deadline. But should we accept all deadlines without questioning?
Rushing things for a good turnaround time
But meeting deadlines and having good turnaround times does not mean rushing things. In fact, rushing a job is as unprofessional as not meeting a deadline. If a translator rushes to complete a job in a shorter period of time, they are more prone to errors or misinterpretations. Being a good translator requires time to interpret the text and research any unknown terms, if the translator rushes this process they may end up with a bad translation. This is as damming, if not even more damming, than not meeting a deadline.
There needs to be a balance in all of this.
Setting realistic deadlines
In my view, good communication is the key. A translator should always analyse the source text and set a realistic deadline. This should be the time needed to complete the job in a professional way, including research of possible terms, proofreading and revision. He should ask questions if there’s something that needs clarification. Just accepting a deadline, even if it’s unrealistic it’s not a good practice. And if a translator is good at meeting unrealistic deadlines but the end result is a low-quality translation, that will be more hurtful to their reputation than anything. No one want to pay for a low-quality product.
If a client insists in an unrealistic deadline, the translator should be able to explain why that deadline is not possible. He should be able to tell the client the time he needs to do a good job and explain why he does need that time. A few minutes or even a few hours won’t be an issue if the end result is a quality translation that can be used immediately by the client.
In the other hand, a rushed translation to meet an unrealistic deadline can be a serious problem. If that translation is full of errors and has no quality, it will need to be proofread and corrected. That means the client will need to hire another translator to do that job and that will ultimately take more time and cost more money.