Best Practices

Top Translation Quality Metrics for Comparing Vendors

Quality translation could mean the difference between market success and falling flat.
Gabriel Fairman
2 min
Table of Contents

Quality translation could mean the difference between market success and falling flat. When considering vendors for your translation project, you need to assess their commitment and approach to quality. Establishing which translation quality metrics matter to you will highlight the critical questions when comparing vendors. Plus, these metrics will help set a standard between you and your chosen vendor to define quality, accuracy, and your specific requirements before your project begins. Gauging if your vendor is prepared to meet your goals for subjective translation quality is the key.  

What Does Translation Quality Mean to You?

What is translation quality? Quality is often defined as the absence of errors or adherence to predefined standards or requirements. When considering translation quality, the standards will vary from company to company. The subjective criteria may be based on style or choice of terminology, and perhaps it is determined by a simple right vs. wrong method. Defining what quality means to you is the first step in outlining translation quality metrics when comparing vendors.

How to Determine Your Translation Quality Metrics

While a translation may accurately convey the intended meaning, that does not mean it is of high quality. A translation can make sense, but does it capture the tone and message intended? More importantly, does it take cultural factors into account to resonate with the audience? Some key considerations:

  • Is the translation accurate?
  • Does the content fulfill its purpose?
  • Does it resonate with the reader?

Once you have defined what quality means to you and how to determine translation quality metrics, some frameworks can be used to verify translation quality.

The Strict Error-Free Approach to Quality

Different companies use various metrics and frameworks for their approach to quality. For example, linguistic quality assurance (LQA) methods were established in the 80s and 90s, involving human linguists reviewing and verifying translations to ensure cultural accuracy, terminology, and phrasing. The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2450 provided companies with clear guidelines, best practices, and standards to assist organizations in delivering clear objectives and translations. However, both frameworks lack the modern ability to adjust to changing circumstances required for diversified types of content.Other modern frameworks implemented by the International Organization for Standardization have taken the lead in assisting companies in providing requirements for core processes necessary for quality translation delivery. These frameworks take an “error-free” approach, which may be sufficient for highly technical content. However, cut-and-dry translation quality will not be efficient for those who care about the content. This methodological approach is what causes many standard frameworks to fail.

The Subjective Review of Impact

Recognized professional standards are essential in determining errors, but they’ll only get you so far. While it is important to ensure grammar, punctuality, and terminology are accurate, the ultimate objective is to provide the right delivery. Language is inherently subjective and should elicit emotion. For example, you could say, “this bar of soap will leave you clean.” But an alternative approach may be “this bar of soap will leave you feeling revitalized and ready to start your day.” The same value proposition can be approached in different ways. As a result, quality is not always about the error. It is also about the choice of words and the proper delivery to resonate with a reader truly. Defining your quality standards can get your content to the right point in achieving your translation goals.

The Value of Partnership and Service Quality

When considering vendors, you must gain insight into their approach to measure if it resonates with your quality standards. A look under the hood, if you will, at their localization engine.Before making a decision, develop a meaningful list of questions to ask potential vendors. For example:

  • How is your business structured?
  • What kind of processes are in place?
  • How are your translators selected?
  • What is your localization strategy?

While speed, quality of service, and cost play a large role, finding value in a vendor by understanding their process and structure will be what sets a quality vendor apart from an inferior one.

A Framework that Works

There is often a disconnect between the client, agency, and technology used with many modern translation companies. At Bureau Works, we saw an opportunity to eliminate archaic methods and create a translation management system with a wide range of collaborative and automated features to ensure we are capturing the essence of quality for your brand.

Unparalleled Quality Results

Our linguists’ assignments are made using artificial intelligence (AI), success metrics, and empirical evidence of competency in given languages, subject matter, and brand understanding. This process ensures you receive the best possible linguists for the job, so your content is true to the language and your brand and culture.Our linguists also use machine translation generated from a customized translation memory. This offering is possible because we combine your corporate lexicons, termbases, and brand keywords to ensure the content meets all of your expectations. Every piece of content is graded for accuracy to ensure high standards and consistent quality. With human translation incorporated, the judgments become more nuanced. Not only is the translation accurate, but it will also resonate with the reader to capture the core values of your message.


Other platforms do not give insight into their methodology, but we believe in transparency. With our localization management platform,  you can make corrections in real-time and get a snapshot view of the precise status of your project whenever you’d like. Having a solid view into the inner workings of your vendor can bring an element of confidence to your choice. Understanding your top translation quality metrics can grant you valuable insight into determining the best vendor for your next project.

Gabriel Fairman
Founder and CEO of Bureau Works, Gabriel Fairman is the father of three and a technologist at heart. Raised in a family that spoke three languages and having picked up another three over the course of his life, he has always been fascinated with the role language plays in identity and the creation of meaning. Gabriel loves to cook, play the guitar, tennis, soccer, and ski. As far as work goes, he enjoys being at the forefront of innovation and mobilizing people and teams together toward a mission. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Gabriel was honored with the 2023 Innovator of the Year Award at LocWorld Silicon Valley.
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