It can be hard to narrow down the best online translation services if you don’t know where to look. The language service market’s value is estimated to reach $56 billion by 2021, so many companies are looking to capitalize on this rise in demand. Unfortunately, too many of these companies are not fully equipped or prepared to provide the services you might expect, leading to inevitable friction on multiple levels.
Avoiding this misalignment of expectations requires due diligence on your part. You need to understand what qualities to look for—in the translation companies’ practices and in the translators they hire. You also need to vet the technology that supports those processes at work. By comparing and contrasting both, you’ll be better prepared to find the best translators and get the maximum value out of your project.
Questions to Ask When Finding the Best Online Translation Services
One big mistake companies make when seeking out the best online translation services is solely focusing on accessibility to linguists in their target language. They don’t consider how the level of service provided can help speed the hiring process, control costs, and support better overall quality. To find these higher-quality providers, you need to ask three key questions:
How is talent vetted and selected?
Most companies have a standard way of vetting talent—they collect resumes, search for keywords, and review previous experience and portfolios. They may additionally require a skill test, but that’s about as extensive as the vetting process goes. As a result, they have only a theoretical idea of how successful someone will be on a given project.
The optimal vetting process is data-driven. Scores from previous jobs combined with client satisfaction rates and other measurable metrics give a far better understanding of overall success. By monitoring and pulling data from every single completed job, the company gains a solid understanding of the translator’s actual capabilities rather than just making an educated guess.
Do they offer translation memory savings?
A significant cost-saving opportunity that is often lost involves a company’s translation memory. This memory is a significant tool for translators, making jobs less labor-intensive and, potentially, saving you money. However, companies will rarely offer savings based on the use of this resource. When they do, it’s typically only given to enormous enterprises doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in business.
Companies of all sizes should be able to benefit from their translation memory and how it makes jobs easier for linguists. It is just data garnered from their own systems that simplify work for the translation firm, after all. When seeking out the best online translation services, you should choose one that provides discounts for translation memory use.
How are line items charged?
One of the biggest focuses for most companies vetting online translation services is the per-word rate. However, it’s important to remember that when comparing these rates, you’re not necessarily comparing apples to apples. Many translation companies will make a concentrated effort to get those per-word rates as low as possible and then will tack on extra costs for items that should come standard, like translation memories, glossaries, layouts, and quality assurance.
To avoid these hidden charges, you need to dissect what the per-word rate encompasses. You may find that, when all is said and done, a higher per-word rate is actually more desirable as there are no hidden charges to consider. Transparency in pricing is an absolute necessity to avoid expenses skyrocketing.
The vetting standards and pricing policies of a translation company will tell you a lot about their services and how they treat clients. However, the work doesn’t end there. You also need to take a critical look at the type of technology that powers their services.
Vetting the Technology Translators Use
Most of the processes you’ll read about when seeking translation services will seem identical. You submit jobs, and then linguists complete and return them. However, it is crucial to flesh out what happens during job completion, because that’s where the discrepancies lie. Asking questions about the technology your partner uses—even if you never see many of the features in-action—can help you understand the level of quality to expect. You should ask:
- Is the software cloud- or desktop-based? If the software is desktop-based, that means things are more manually driven. Translation kits and memories will need to be sent and uploaded to power the system. Cloud-based programs, on the other hand, are much more seamless when it comes to adding information and ensuring everything is up to date, saving you time and resources up front and throughout.
- How much of the process is automated? If you submit a job in the program, does it get assigned immediately, or do you have to wait for the company to vet, choose, and schedule the linguists? The difference between these two options means receiving your completed job back in hours as opposed to days.
- How is translation memory maintained? This is another instance where a centralized system pays major dividends. If you have to send updated translation memories back and forth, there’s a chance uploads will fall through the cracks and you’ll fail to capitalize on this critical asset. However, if a company takes a continuous-improvement approach to your translation memory, they will automatically keep approved strings up to date in the TM so linguists have this valuable tool always at their disposal.
- Is the workflow transparent? Live project tracking through a transparent workflow is a lifesaver for companies simultaneously managing multiple translations and projects. Not only does this kind of workflow allow them to gauge deadlines, but it can also help them identity problems early on. The ability to see content translation on a string-by-string basis provides an early opportunity to correct mistakes in syntax or branding that can ripple throughout the entire program.
- How granular is reporting? Employees tend to underestimate the business-related impact of translation. They view it as a language-management problem when, really, it is a knowledge- and information-management problem. Getting the language right is only part of the solution. Additionally understanding each market’s demand and scaling those efforts to build a strong ROI create a holistic solution. Reporting based on the success of jobs and the number of content views makes it much easier to understand the total value of translation rather than just the quality of content.
- Are live previews an option? How content will appear to the end-user is just as important as the words used. A live preview option will help translators uncover issues with text boxes that are too short or content that doesn’t display as intended. It can also help them understand the context of the material. Unfortunately, many companies do not offer this feature to their linguists.
The best online translation services combine comprehensive technology with high-quality linguists to provide an optimal translation process for your project. A powerful platform can help you manage projects, while data-driven analytics give you insight into how they can be improved. By asking the right questions, you can more accurately predict the expected quality from each provider and choose the best one for your organization.
Bureau Works strives to offer the best online translation services by combining highly skilled linguists with our powerful localization platform. Contact our team to discover the benefits of our service.