Cost-effective localization isn’t achieved by just obtaining the lowest price for your translation; it also involves seeing what’s under the price’s metaphorical hood and how that money drives value for the translation service.
Many business leaders are surprised to learn that when they haggle down the price of the translation, it’s the translators, not the company, that eat the costs. Not only is this unethical, it also leads to quality control problems that will cost you more in the long run. That’s why it’s so important to investigate and understand the model a company uses to pay their translators; it will help guide you to the highest-quality service.
The Problem with Service-Intensive Translation Agencies
When we say “service-intensive,” what we mean is that the translation agency’s sole focus is selling translation services. This model creates a service supply chain where the product (translation) is delivered and managed by a range of intermediaries. The agency needs marketers, salespeople, recruiters, quality control specialists, project managers, administrative assistants, and tech workers to deliver its services. In order to ensure everyone gets paid while the company still makes a profit, these types of translation agencies will typically need to operate at a 50% gross profit margin.
Unfortunately, this service model—which relies heavily on outsourcing—can create a trickle-down issue for all involved linguists that cuts into translator pay even more. Of the 20 cents per word the client pays the agency, the translators may only see 4 or 5 cents.
Most of the top translators aren’t seeking out agency work because of that inequity. Instead, they have a portfolio of clients they maintain on their own to cut overhead expenses and enjoy a higher profit. This can lead to prominent agencies only being able to attract lower-quality translators who are then outsourced to complete big companies’ translation projects. Big companies don’t possess the funding or the time to maintain relationships with hundreds of different translators. Instead, they’ll go the agency route so they can access a greater talent pool, but this access comes at the expense of quality.
The most critical aspect to the quality of a translation project is the linguist, so they should be compensated accordingly. The only way to ensure this is to cut out a significant portion of the middlemen involved and streamline the infrastructure.
The Three Keys to Cost-Effective Localization
In order to achieve cost-effective localization, it is best to seek out companies that have forgone the standard supply chain process in the translation industry, making way for a more direct connection between the client and linguists. When looking for a firm like this, you need to seek out three key factors: technology, automation, and experience.
- Experience: With experience comes efficiency. A company that has performed extensive work in the industry for numerous years likely has existing relationships with vendors and high-quality linguists that they can leverage in providing services. They’ll also be more aware of common pitfalls that cut into savings for clients and implement workarounds that make the service more cost-effective.
- Technology: Technology is a simple solution for eliminating wasted time and the need to outsource. A cloud-based localization management platform, for example, allows clients to collaborate directly with linguists in real-time and manage workflows in a single space. It can also eliminate the need for specific jobs required only for maintaining projects, uploading files, and controlling workflows.
- Automation: Automation can reduce issues with workflow management and project assignments that previously were only oversaw by project managers. With an end-to-end platform, a client can simply upload the content they need translated. Then, a job is automatically created and filtered to an experienced linguist using a data-based selection process. The strings are translated, forwarded automatically to QA, and then pushed live upon approval. All this automation eliminates the need for strict oversight and ensures a closer, more collaborative relationship between stakeholders.
Experience, automation, and technology have enabled Bureau Works to provide cost-effective localization by cutting out the need to outsource. As a result, a larger portion of our clients’ payments go toward our linguists. This allows us to attract the best talent available and ensure our clients always receive high-quality work that accurately reflects their brand.