A Sense of Direction
by Steve Dept – cApStAn partner
cApStAn linguistic quality control is a brand name (and a registered trademark) for a holistic approach to translation and adaptation of assessments and surveys; cApStAn also stands for a certain lifestyle and spirit: “Excellence among friends”, as one of the founding partners likes to put it. When we take stock of cApStAn’s achievements at the end of the year and projects for the coming year, we look at the yield of an incredible collaborative effort, at consolidated results, and at our joint objectives. From this vantage point, we are immensely proud to report that, after a relatively modest growth in 2017, we have made significantly more progress in 2018, with around 15% growth versus 2017. Well done to the cApStAn teams on both sides of the Atlantic and to our freelance linguists who did not spare their efforts to meet the stringent quality requirements that made our reputation.
Part of this feat is due to the choices we made and the legwork we did in 2017. Another part is due to a growing awareness of the importance of adequate linguistic quality assurance in high stakes assessments or in multilingual surveys. Particularly in technology-rich environments, the mix of automation and human expertise needs to be carefully calibrated. I believe we did make a modest but tangible contribution to this awareness by continuously shaping, testing, streamlining best practices in test and questionnaire localisation, and by promoting them at conferences such as the ATP, E-ATP, WAPOR and ITC this year.
The lion’s share of our impressive results, though, is the result of hard work, dedication, and always setting the bar very high for ourselves. The cApStAn team in Philadelphia is now six strong (welcome to Grace and Treonna!) and has processed a staggering number of words for US and Canadian clients. In Brussels, the cApStAn Translate group now uses a web-based translation project management system for its numerous projects, which are smaller and have fast turnarounds. The cApStAn Verify group has had a more diversified client base this year, with a growing share of upstream linguistic quality assurance work, performed before the actual translation work begins.
Transversal task forces that straddle the ocean have further professionalised the way we deal with translation technology, external human resources, process engineering, server management, security, business development and online presence: thank you to all the members of all the task forces for the sterling work. Among the special achievements, I’d like to mention full GDPR compliance and a seamless server migration. There should be another two or more pages with special thanks to each of you individually: you all went an extra mile when needed. You even anticipated such needs, which is what sets you apart.
Now let’s turn to 2019: we already know from our confirmed projects that it will be a record-breaking year: For our two mammoth projects PIAAC—33 participating countries; managed from our Philly office—and PISA—97 participating countries and economies; coordinated from our Brussels HQ—the peak periods will coincide. We shall co-author chapters in two books on large-scale assessments, co-organise a symposium with ETS, attend more conferences, make more presentations. We shall introduce an integrated ERP suite to centralise our business information, streamline management, take informed decisions faster and identify economies of scale. Of course, we shall keep investing in R&D and further develop our in-house tools (Inky, VeryFire™, MemoryLn™ and a number of applications we like to refer to as cApps). If I had to summarize the buoyant feeling with which we begin this milestone year, I’d say we have become more proactive than reactive and have acquired a collective sense of direction. Let’s see what comes out of it!