4 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Global Translation Services
Evaluating the responsiveness, methodology, and quality of each company will help guide you to the best global translation services among all the options.

When vetting global translation services, clients tend to rely upon a standardized set of questions and answers. This can cause the vetting process to become more passive, leading clients to miss what makes certain translation companies truly superior. But knowing the right questions to ask will help clients find their best match.

It’s not always easy to thoroughly review all the applicants, especially when you consider the scope of the translation market. But evaluating the responsiveness, methodology, and quality of each company will help guide you to the best global translation services among all the options.

Mistakes People Make When Vetting Global Translation Services

The request for proposals (RFPs) is a popular, long-standing method of soliciting bids and comparing them based on the same set of criteria. However, these RFPs come with one major caveat—everyone knows how to answer them. Vendors have these processes down to a science; they know what to say to solicit the best response. There are a few standardized questions that just about every company asks.

  • What’s the translation process?
  • What’s the employee churn rate?
  • How financially secure is the company?
  • Which certifications do the linguists have?

The problem with these questions is that they don’t measure how good the services of an individual company are. They just measure how good they are at answering questions. In the long run, none of those answers will matter when it comes to your localization strategy. That’s why your queries need to center on aspects that not everyone covers.

Asking the Right Questions to Find the Best Translation Services

Rather than asking standard questions and getting cookie-cutter responses, what you want to do is ask questions that only an industry insider could answer. The following four questions will help you discover the best global translation services by revealing what to expect down the road.

#1: How are process requirements enforced?

A process may look good on paper, but how can you guarantee it will be followed for your projects? That’s why it’s important to seek a service that provides translators with no choice but to follow the prescribed methodology. It should be ingrained into the translator’s software so there is no room for variation.

#2: How responsive is the company?

This question isn’t one you directly ask the company, but instead will infer based on their response to other questions. Here, actions will speak louder than words. When you ask them a question that requires a definitive answer, you should get one. If they use “weasel words” that allow them to back out of that response later, it should be a red flag.

For example, you may ask, “Do you maintain translation memories?” In response, you should get a “yes” or “no.” If the company answers, “well, it depends…” that should be a sign that they won’t be straightforward in business dealings. While this may not be a deal-breaker, you will want to be extremely careful when reviewing the translation contract.

#3: Do they take an iterative approach?

An iterative localization approach is one where you start with a single language and a small project and then build from there. This strategy is the best possible way to prepare your translation program for the long term. A company that doesn’t know what an iterative approach is—or one that does know but recommends doing everything at once anyway—may be more worried about the sale than the actual results. The agency should always put the best interest of their clients’ projects first. The iterative approach shows they’re interested in developing a long-term localization strategy with you rather than making a quick sale.

#4: What does the QA process entail?

Quality assurance (QA) can have many different meanings. At one company, it may mean a simple machine check at the end of a translation. Another may refer to an editor. While these are both good starts, there is one method that proves to be much more effective—geo-specific reviewers. The translation agency seeks out regional-specific reviewers that are in your target demographic to have them read a few different versions of the translation and then choose the best one. Then, the favorited translation is used to set the standard.

This approach not only ensures that your content is grammatically correct, but it goes further by also guaranteeing that it resonates with your specific target audience. Companies that provide QA at this level are typically better poised to offer professional-grade translation across markets.

Asking these questions will help you find the best global translation services. Because they’re a step above standardized questions, their answers can definitively tell you how prepared each company is to handle your project. This allows you to choose the most qualified translation agency to help guide your long-term localization strategy.

Bureau Works provides the top global translation services through the teaming of high-quality linguists with a transparent platform. To discover how we can improve your project’s results, contact our team.

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