If you are tasked with finding translators for your organization’s localization, your logical choices are to hire them yourself or outsource translation services. Of course, the latter option presents a much higher up-front cost. But you can’t ignore the long-term costs associated with such a complicated endeavor as localization. You’re looking at much more than just signing on some translators.
Be ready to account for a heavy management burden, high-stakes quality assurance, a complicated ecosystem of content and collaborators, highly technical integration demands, and the fundamental issue of scalability as you continue to expand. Consider very carefully how to move forward with your translation and localization projects with the whole big, colorful picture in mind.
How Small Organizations Can Benefit from Outsourced Translation Services
The size of your organization often influences the way you approach translation. But we’re considering the same basic issues regardless. (After all, localization drives the metamorphosis of a small company into a larger one.) Let’s look at these considerations for smaller-scale organizations first.
Translation is a profession. Being a native speaker doesn’t make you a translator. Nonetheless, there is often the temptation for a small organization to make their native speaker do double duty by piling translating on top of whatever responsibilities that person already has. It’s not effective personnel management, and it’s very unlikely to result in good translations. Partnering with a language service provider (LSP) gives you access to an entire team of professionals who know how to produce consistent, high-quality translations. They will know your industry, they will have an intimate knowledge of the tools of their trade, and they will be able to work on a team, alongside managers, editors, and other stakeholders.
A big problem with translations by your bilingual accountant, for example, is that you don’t really know what you’re getting. That’s not because your accountant will aim to deceive you or because their language skills are subpar; you don’t know if they speak a nonstandard dialect or aren’t aware of the latest terminology in your field, or they might not even know enough about your brand, your product, and your target market to translate thoughtfully.
The challenge when you outsource your translation is that you still don’t know what you’re getting right away. There are a few signs of a reliable translation partner you should look for:
- Intentional translator-project matching—Some translators will be better qualified to work on your projects than others, and your work should be routed to them.
- Radical transparency—You should be able to see who is translating your work and what their qualifications are. You should be able to atch the progress of every project you hand over for translation in real time as well.
- Linguistic assets—Consistency among translations and carefully chosen terminology are hallmarks of quality translation. They are made possible through a single source of truth, which consists of translation memory, term bases, style guides, and other support material.
It takes significant infrastructure to support the tools that make quality translation possible, as well as dedicated personnel such as developers and managers. In other words, it takes a lot of money. If you don’t have a localization platform of your own, it makes much more sense to outsource it than to create your own—it makes sense for both your time and financial investments. It’s good to keep in mind that you are investing in the global future of both your product and your brand. When you invest the right way, your money buys a lot.
Scalability and Sustainability
Growth can be a risky time for UX and brand reputation if the new demands on your organization get out of control. But the right outsourced partner is inherently prepared for the extra work as you grow.
It’s one thing to marshal the time and resources to translate your product into a second language for a shiny new target market. It’s another thing to maintain the resources to localize ongoing updates—and to do all of this for the swath of markets and languages you might have on the horizon. An expert LSP can transition with you without showing any strain as they meet the new demands going forward.
How Large Organizations Can Maximize Translation Vendor Services
Large companies need to be ready to anticipate common localization challenges so they’ll have the best solutions in place from the start.
Translation work may come in big waves as projects arise at an uneven pace. It’s difficult and profoundly uneconomical to try to keep in-house translators busy when the waves subside while ensuring that they have the time and resources for the peaks. In reality, you don’t need to insource translations. What you need is a senior linguist to serve as a language manager for each of your key markets. That way you have somebody who is intimate with the market culture and with your product at the same time. You don’t need it for every single language, but if you have a large volume of translations for your main markets, it’s easier to have someone at hand instantly when there’s a mission-critical issue to decide. Then, you can comfortably outsource the translation work and the management hassles that come with it.
One of the advantages a large organization has is that a large amount of material actually enables data-driven quality assurance. Besides having a single source of truth and all the other benefits of outsourcing, an LSP can use the growing records of approved translations to analyze quality. A new-generation localization platform can track progress on a granular level, assessing the number and type of edits performed by individual translators and converting those data points into a comparable score.
Besides allowing you to track the qualitative progress of your localization campaign, this system increases accountability throughout the workflow. You can control style and terminology—your core assets. You can be involved in maintaining your translation memory with ease, and you can have people involved in training and communicating with linguists in the midst of projects. The right brand of localization outsourcing lets you stay in control even while providing speed and quality for any amount of content.
Going it alone can cost a bundle and still have questionable results. The cost of technology can be high, and then you have to recruit and manage translators. If you choose that route, you need to do it for the right reasons; don’t be naive enough to think that you’ll figure it all out as you go. Don’t put yourself in such a weak position. As a professional, you need to know exactly how you intend for your workflow to go. You need to be able to anticipate obstacles and build your entire localization team for sure-fire results. A good LSP will help you do all of this.
Scalability and Sustainability
Flexibility is key to growth. The workflow pipeline has to expand as you grow and as the work increases—all while keeping the existing flows intact. Term bases and style guides have to be created and maintained, and new personnel have to be onboarded without interrupting any of the above. An experienced and responsive LSP can not only take on the additional work, but it will also act as your partner to ensure that all aspects can expand seamlessly. The right partner will be honest about what is working and what is not and offer the transparency for you to see for yourself.
How You Can Get Started with Translation Services
Outsourcing translation services is a big leap of trust. Bureau Works offers a free version of our complex platform so you don’t have to commit to anything sight unseen. No outsourced translation service is going to be perfectly in step on day one, but by communicating from the start, refining, training, and learning, we develop a cutting-edge localization ecosystem together. And it’s one that captures your organization’s unique goals, products, workflows, and markets. A competent and reliable partner can relieve you of the immensely demanding and highly specialized tasks that will make or break your global success. And you can keep focusing on your critical strengths and responsibilities to support the company’s sexy updates.
Bureau Works has years of experience providing translation and localization services to organizations, large and small. Our centralized localization platform ensures scalable, sustainable translation services with radical transparency. Contact our team today to find out more.
January 11, 2020