What Kind of Translation Agency Do You Need?

The search for available translation agencies will yield no shortage of results. The language service market will grow to over $56 billion in value by 2021 to meet a rising need for global content. Just about every company—from app providers to e-commerce sites and online publication agencies—will eventually have to look internationally if they want to grow. Success in this global direction is going to depend on your ability to reinvent your offerings for a new market without losing what made you popular in the original one. That is where the search for an ideal translation agency comes in.

Choosing the right provider is going to make all the difference, but most business leaders don’t even know where to start when it comes to creating localized content for a new market. If you want to grow your brand, you’re going to have to review the available providers carefully, along with their business models and the technology they rely on. The first step is evaluating your need for translation in a successful global launch.


You should consider translation services if:

  • You have a large amount of complex content to translate or ongoing updates
  • You are anticipating significant regional growth
  • You have a high number of active users seeking a specific language
  • You anticipate a full-scale marketing campaign
  • You intend to translate content into multiple languages

You may not need them if:

  • You have a small amount of content for translation into only one language
  • You have a minimal number of views of content from the region in question
  • You have resources familiar with your company and capable of handling the translation activities on your behalf

Full-scale translation services aren’t always necessary. In some cases, a simple machine translation may work for you. In others, you may have the bandwidth to handle the entire project in-house. However, if you have a significant amount of content to translate, you may want to consider working with an agency early on. In these cases, the sooner you work with a company to create standards for your translation, the better.

Translation Business Models to Expect

As demand for translation services grows, so does the complexity of business models. While there are virtually thousands of companies involved in this kind of service, all of them break down into several basic categories.

Large Translation Company

Large translation companies are typically a one-stop shop to allow for translation into many different languages. These companies do hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business per year and, as a result, have locations and personnel all over the world.

  • There is a wide breadth of services and solutions.
  • Teams are available from several time zones.
  • 24/7 service is standard.
  • Very refined account management is likely for larger organizations.
  • You gain access to an endless array of translators with different levels of expertise.
  • Initial bids may be more attractive than those from smaller translation companies.
  • Accountability is a common problem as the business is vast and errors hard to trace.
  • Price creep is typical as the company may try to upsell other services to make up for the small initial bid.
  • Outsourcing is prevalent, and as there is no real management of subcontractor quality, you can expect standards to drop.
  • Each division is divided and separated, sometimes into different operations.

Small Translation Company

Smaller translation companies typically do only a few million dollars in business per year and have few locations, centralized to a specific region.

  • Teams are highly specialized to a specific language or subject matter.
  • A more flexible business model allows them to change direction as needed.
  • You may have more direct access to project leaders than you would at a larger company, where you may be lucky to reach a random customer service representative.
  • Turnover at agencies can lead to significant changes in quality.
  • The range of technology and skill sets for managing quality may be limited.
  • There is no guarantee of due diligence on processes and QA.
  • Language options are often limited to the common options with few regional dialects.


A single translator will specialize in a specific language and often works remotely from the targeted region.

  • This is usually the cheapest option upfront for companies.
  • Direct contact is common, and the customer service experience is strong.
  • The translator may be located in the target region, giving them greater insight into accurate translations aimed at the particular market.
  • The translator may be less receptive to feedback and take criticism personally.
  • Scalability to a higher volume of work or more diverse language options isn’t possible.
  • The translator’s access to and grasp of technology may not be sufficient for the project.
  • They may be resistant to divert from their preferred tech solutions even to merge with yours.

TMS (Translation Management System)

The translation management system (TMS) is not an agency but a software that may power an agency. Popular options include XTM International, Transifex, and Memsource.

  • Most allow for flexible setup to accommodate any type of organization.
  • Leaders have plenty of ownership over the translation process.
  • High visibility: quickly check tasks and review project status.
  • You will need an expert to manage tasks within the TMS.
  • You have to self-run your own translation agency, as only the technology is included.
  • You must also manage the vetting and hiring of translators.

TMS (Translation Management System)

Bureau Works uses a unique business model that combines a high-quality localization management platform with the business processes and availability of a major firm.

  • Our service is fully and easily scalable.
  • All project costs, deadlines, and results are predictable.
  • Our platform allows for full transparency of all tasks as well as billing and company ROI.
  • We offer a wide range of highly qualified translators and use AI to assign the best possible translators for your projects.
  • This is a full end-to-end solution for any localization process and any industry.
  • As our entire process is platform-driven, we don’t use email or phone-based customer service options. This can be challenging to those who prefer such methods.
  • Our program may be a bit too comprehensive and robust for a small or simplistic translation project.

After reviewing the pros and cons of each business model, you’re likely to have a good idea of the kind of translation agency that’s right for your future prospects. However, you still need to look at how individual agencies manage their workflows, tools for facilitating the localization process, and standards of communication and transparency. To understand these additional important elements, you need to evaluate the technology at the heart of the agencies.

Supportive Software for Localization Management

There are three basic types of software you’ll need to help you control workflows, eliminate redundant tasks, and manage costs.

  • Translation Management Systems
  • (TMS): The TMS will help you monitor projects and responsibilities related to assigning translation tasks, uploading strings, monitoring progress, and managing the project itself. It is a tool designed to maximize translator efficiency by allowing transparent, streamlined workflows.
  • Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) Tools: CAT tools help translators complete tasks faster by allowing them access to corporate lexicons, translation memories, termbases, search tools, and spell checks. These tools help translators complete tasks faster and improve the quality of completed work.
  • Business Management Systems (BMS): A BMS is necessary in order to keep track of costs, ROIs, and the efficiency of projects. Without one, leaders wouldn’t be able to analyze how their translation efforts are paying off or determine where they should focus their attention.

It’s not unusual for these systems to overlap on some level. A TMS may come with built-in CAT tools. A BMS may allow for assigning and workflow management of translation projects. Some systems may integrate and connect with others. For example, a TMS may communicate with a content management system (CMS) to allow for seamless uploading of new content—a significant timesaver.

Before deciding on an agency, it’s vital to evaluate the supportive software at stake. Disparate software solutions lead to business segmentation and missed communications. However, as translation is only a small component of a business, it’s rare to find a tool that allows for the combination of all three systems in a single, collaborative space.

This multi-dimensional software is something that only Bureau Works has accomplished to date. Our platform acts as a repository for company-specific translation memories and term bases to provide higher-quality, more efficient translation overall. It leverages artificial intelligence to assign the best translators for the target language, subject matter, and tone based on their prior performance data. Also, it provides a workspace for them to accept, translate, and submit strings before those projects move on for review and approval in the same system.

When it comes to business management tasks, the system allows you to keep track of billing and payments on a granular level. You can run reports based on previous projects to determine where you’re spending the most money, and you can get a clear picture of your ROI. This allows you to make smarter decisions about localization and expansion in the big picture.


Making the Final Decision for Seamless Localization

The best way to eliminate waste in any business process is to cut back on the steps to completing a task. When a translation agency focuses only on translation, they may overlook technologies that could make the job seamless and efficient. Meanwhile, a platform only creates the scaffolding of a project; you still have to hire translators and manage the localization process somehow. Working with a translation agency that combines the right human capital with an intuitive platform is the closest to a turnkey localization solution you can get.

When working with a translation agency, you want an end-to-end solution. You need a simple option for hiring and collaborating with translators, as well as technical support to get your localized content live without delays. You also need a way to measure your success. When choosing a localization partner, your choice shouldn’t focus on whether you need a small or large agency. Instead, you want one that offers an all-inclusive experience so you can see the real profit of international expansion.

Bureau Works can act as your all-inclusive translation agency by combining our powerful platform with our range of linguistic experts. Contact our team to learn more.

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