Multilingual translation software can be an excellent tool for automating your localization processes, but it’s not something you can approach blindly. There are too many factors to consider when deciding which process is best for you.
For example, the cost to implement a manual approach is typically cheaper than software implementation, but its long-term ROI is normally less than expected. By the same token, automation isn’t perfect. Yes, it’s an excellent tool for eliminating manual exchanges and standardizing decision making, but there are some significant risks involved if you work with the wrong partner.
Before deciding whether you need multilingual translation software, you may want to weigh the risks and benefits and compare it to a manual approach.
Choosing a Traditional Multilingual Translation Process
In a traditional multilingual translation process, you have a team of project managers working with linguists in various languages. They send content files to the linguists, monitor notifications, follow up on progress, and review completed documents. Then, they forward those files to an SEO agency for review before pushing them live through a CMS. This less-sophisticated approach may seem cumbersome, but it does have some pros to consider:
- Flexibility: Given the program’s minimal structure, a manager could, for example, pivot in the middle of a project and switch their focus to a different language if needed.
- Fast start-up: Most of the tools needed for a simple translation program are already available—email, messaging applications, and a CMS. As a result, it’s possible to start work as soon as you find the right translators.
- Low initial cost: The expense to start a translation program that’s not dependent on technology is much smaller since you have to consider only the cost of translators and your employees’ time management; there are no software licensing expenses.
- Issue containment: A problem with a single document or project will stay isolated to that specific project, rather than filtering throughout the system and impacting everything (which is a genuine risk in translation automation).
- Long-term ROI: Simple things—like monitoring emails, accepting translated content, and reviewing results—grow in complexity as you add more languages and resources. This usually results in the need for hiring a dedicated full-time staff to manage these operations, which ends up being an expensive recurring cost. Generally speaking—when it comes to a manual approach—what you save in the beginning, you likely end up losing in the long run.
- Complex management: Any sophisticated multilingual translation program could have hundreds of updates per week. Keeping track of these updates and their impact on your work—while simultaneously managing the documents, notifications, and emails that flow back and forth between departments and linguists—can be extremely challenging.
- Inefficient resource use: Since each project is isolated, none of the changes you make in the system feed into others. For example, instead of translating one template and using it as a model for future ones, you’ll need to convert the same template over and over again, which is a waste of funds and time.
- Human error: You can set all the standards you want, but one thing you can never predict is human error. An employee may choose to ignore protocols or set up their own way of working, which will likely have a negative impact on the entire program.
- Inconsistent results: When you have hundreds of translators with different personalities and skillsets, there is inevitably going to be a range in the quality of work. Some may go above and beyond, but others may do the bare minimum. In business, you’re unfortunately far more likely to be judged by your worst work rather than your best.
While a traditional approach may be ideal if you’re worried about funding and don’t expect a lot of incoming content, it’s typically not suitable for any large enterprise working in multiple languages. For that, it’s necessary to build a localization program with superior technology.
The Risks and Benefits of Multilingual Translation Software
Multilingual translation software can be a significant benefit if your organization is attempting to expand in multiple locations while managing an ever-evolving workflow. With the right localization management platform, you can create a seamless system that responds intuitively to your projects. Of course, there is still a balance of pros and cons to consider:
- Eliminate redundant work: With a strong platform, you can use the information you gain from one translation job to feed into future tasks and guide them. For example, if you have a standard NDA that you used, you can create a template and use machine translation to fill most of it out, which speeds workflows and reduces costs.
- AI-enabled assignments: Some platforms use artificial intelligence to automatically assign linguists to specific projects based on their experience, background, and prior performance metrics. This ensures you acquire the best possible person for the translation job without having to vet hundreds of candidates. You can also prioritize preferred candidates for specific upcoming jobs.
- Resource consolidation: One of the most significant benefits of a platform is that you can centralize all of your assets, including translation memories, term bases, and corporate glossaries. This ensures that all your translators are referencing a single source of truth. You can also integrate other programs, like your CMS, to allow for seamless content transfers. Every unique project benefits from this reinforced platform from beginning to end.
- Standardization: Standardization of tasks helps to eliminate the risk of human error through the enforcement of specific work-related criteria. This ensures consistency across all assets.
- Improved long-term ROI: The ROI of a good software management program is exponential. Through streamlining all communications processes, there are fewer task management steps, reducing the amount of personnel needed and significantly increasing overall ROI.
- Lengthy implementation stage: While a traditional translation management program may break down to 10% preparation and 90% execution, a technology-based approach will be a reversed ratio. You have to set accurate, detailed parameters and protocols at the very beginning of a project. You’ll also need a greater focus on overall system governance, stop-losses, and system triggers that alert you when there’s a problem. Without taking proper measures during the planning stage, you’ll run into the biggest problem with automation: system-wide risk. Of course, this early investment pays off exponentially in the end.
- Higher risk: It’s irresponsible to act like automation has no downside. With automation, everything you do has more profound reverberations because you’re solving problems at a system-wide level. If you make a mistake, that mistake filters into everything you do. It’s a risk-versus-reward situation. The reward for automation can be business transforming; the risk, however, is one of catastrophic failure. Hence, that greater investment in early preparation is critical to establishing a solid working process.
These possible cons point to why choosing the right partner is so vital to the successful management of an automated program. It requires a lot of education and expertise, as well as the ability to adapt to its ever-evolving nature. Even individuals who work with it daily find themselves learning something new and facing never-before-seen problems regularly. Without responsible planning, testing, and governance, the program will likely fail.
However, the successful implementation of multilingual translation software is something that pays major dividends since you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every project. It’s a system that works on continuous process improvement. Every job makes the program smarter and more capable of handling your needs, making it a wise choice for any enterprise that wants to expand the ROI on their translation management projects.
Bureau Works can provide you with the content translation software you need to enjoy the benefits of automated task management and localization strategies while, simultaneously, minimizing overall risk. Contact our team for more information.