Translation plays a vital role both for companies which operate globally and for those wishing to target customers abroad. With a rapidly growing business, you increasingly find yourself interacting with customers and employees who speak other languages. Or perhaps you are seeking to market your products or services to a global audience through the Internet, and you know that communicating in different languages is the best way for you to attract customers from around the world.
In today’s global economy, translation is more important than ever. The benefits derived from translating key documents are numerous, including increasing your product reach and helping your business find a niche market. Translation is an investment in your company’s success – an investment well worth the time and cost involved.
Perhaps you have already solicited casual translation services from your bilingual employees or distributors – a short-term solution which often results in inefficient and inconsistent translations. Translation is in fact a highly specialised skill, and it is important to engage a professional translation service provider to look after your best interests when it comes to translation services.
Selecting the right translation service provider is critical. Here are 7 key factors to consider:
We cannot stress enough the importance of superior-quality translations. Quality is the number one factor to consider when choosing a translation service provider. You need to be able to trust that the translation service provider will deliver an accurate translation with each and every translation project they take on.
Accurate, high-quality translations are critical, because translated materials are often presented to prospective customers, reproduced for widespread publication, or used in important legal matters. Poorly translated documents can have many negative consequences, including a loss of customer confidence, the failure to close sales, a tarnished company image, and even potentially costly legal implications.
While you and your employees may not be able to evaluate whether a document has been well-translated, the target audience of the translated language will know. A translation service provider that provides high-quality, consistently accurate translations will be well worth the investment.
As the saying goes, “With experience comes wisdom”. This is definitely true in the translation industry. A growing business faces ever-changing requirements, and it is important that the translation service provider you engage has had extensive experience managing a wide variety of projects.
A seasoned translation company with an excellent track record will be better equipped to tap into best practices for your specific project. In addition, experienced translation companies know to employ only proven, competent translators and, when needed, have the resources to tap into a great breadth of translators with specialised knowledge in fields such as legal, medical, and technical translation.
3. Competency, Confidentiality, and Ethics
Having a competent, ethical staff is vital to a professional translation agency. An experienced language service provider will continually test, proofread, and provide feedback to its translators. In addition, a high level of integrity and the ability to maintain confidentiality are essential traits in both your service provider and its employees. A reliable translation service provider must have ethical standards in place, as well as established processes for continuing education and professional growth.
If you have concerns about confidentiality, ensure that confidentiality agreements are signed by all parties accessing your documents, and ask if the translation will be performed in the cloud. If cloud translation is being utilised, your confidential information will also stay in the cloud.
4. Speed and Capacity
Time-sensitive situations will inevitably arise, such as a solicitor receiving last-minute documents for an impending court case or an imminent filing deadline for a migration application. While allowing ample time for translation is optimal, sometimes this is not possible, and your translation company should have the capacity and flexibility to provide expedited translation services when required.
Whether your project is a 100-page technical manual or marketing materials required for urgent print, seek a provider that is both flexible and well-staffed (to accommodate fluctuations in volume). Fast turnarounds, such as overnight or within 24 hours, are necessary more often than people think, but experienced translation service providers can handle, and in fact even anticipate, the added workload. Can your translation company effectively manage your varied turnaround requirements?
A professional, high-quality translation agency should always complete translation work on time without any excuses. The time frame for completion should be stated and agreed to at the start of a project, with an understanding that your deadlines are set in stone, with no exceptions. An experienced professional language service provider can realistically assess whether a project can be completed within a certain timeframe, whereas more inexperienced providers often over-promise and under-deliver.
While cost should never be the sole determining factor when engaging a language service provider, at the end of the day, pricing is important. Every company has limited funds and allocated budgets, and we are all looking for the highest quality at the lowest price. When it comes to getting the best value for your money, knowledge is power, and it is important to understand the basis of the price you are quoted.
Get clarification on any unfamiliar terms, such as “character count”, “word count”, or “cost per page.” Does the quote you have been given include proofreading, GST, multilingual desktop publishing, or terminology management? Avoid being confused or intimidated, and be sure to ask for the complete and final price. Having a precise basis for comparison will help you to better understand exactly what you are paying for and what you will receive.
7. Client Care
The translation service provider you choose to work with should be pleasant and responsive, with a positive attitude and an honest desire to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for your translation project. As a client, you should always be treated with respect and be given personalised attention. Some large translation companies have so many clients that it is easy to get lost in the shuffle.
You should never hear what a translation service provider “can’t do,” but rather what they “can and will do”. Many translation service clients have special requests, such as secure data transmission, speedy turnaround, or certified translators. If you have such needs, make sure to include them in your initial inquiry.
Ideally, you as the client should be given as much (or as little) control over the translation process as you wish. What matters to you the most? Do you want to select your own translators? Would you like access to a short list of candidates in the desired language and see a sample of their work? Is it important to you to know the translator’s background in order to select according to your own criteria? (This can be very important for literary translations or highly technical translations.) Translating styles can vary greatly, even when using a client’s style guide, and the provider should strive to conform to the client’s needs, not the other way around.
The decision-making process involved in purchasing translation services may seem challenging at first, but will be well worth the effort in the end. Whether you are an experienced purchaser of translation services or someone who purchases on an ad hoc basis, take the time to interview your potential language service provider and consider adding the factors listed above to your own checklist of what matters most to you.
At Translationz, we believe we excel in the critical factors outlined here, and we welcome the opportunity to provide a quote for services or to be interviewed the next time you are considering using a professional language service provider.
Karen Hodgson, CEO of Translationz