Why You Need a Transparent Translation Company to Localize Your Content

If you’re going to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on a localization company, they better be trustworthy. We’ve already discussed at length how to find a trustworthy localization vendor based on pricing alone—and cost is definitely a crucial consideration because nobody wants to be ripped off by a translation company.

Believe it or not, full-scale transparency matters even more.

Translation is really about people, after all. Language is humanity manifest. If you’re engaged in localization work, you’re paying for a service that depends on individual discretion, creativity, and experience. You need to be able to trust your localization team to understand and communicate your brand to audiences across the globe. Your international reputation and market share are both on the line.

Partnering with a transparent localization company is the best way to ensure that you receive top-quality content, the best possible service, and the highest return on your investment. It’s the crucial step that will dictate the trajectory of your entire localization strategy from this point forward.

The Nature of Radical Transparency

When you seek transparency in the localization industry, you’re looking for two distinct elements:

1) A localization platform that’s designed with transparency built-in; and

2) An expert partner that runs their business on radical transparency to begin with.

If you can find a translation service that fulfills both goals, you’ll be well on your way toward a mutualistic partnership that will benefit your company for years to come. So, how do you get from here to there? Read on to uncover the value and vision of transparency within the localization industry—and how to sign on to the revolution.

Looking Inside a Transparent Localization Platform

When your company began the search for localization services, what was your primary objective?

Most product and localization managers would say they’re looking for cutting-edge localization software. Everyone wants to hire a localization service that moves faster and produces higher-quality content than the in-house or outsourced process they currently run.

Localization technology is evolving quickly to meet those demands. However, transparency is one crucial element that often gets lost in the race for continuous localization. As technology speeds toward instantaneous translation, we rely on transparency at all stages of the game to guarantee quality and ensure honest business practices.

When a translation platform is built on transparency, every step in the localization process is affected:

With software this good, it’s easy to understand why transparency equals trust.

Transparency modifies every process in the translation workflow and creates an entirely new kind of localization software. With a transparent platform, you don’t just take the reins from a language service provider (LSP). You’re in control of end-to-end operations for every localization project you complete—but without the typical strain on managers. In this new paradigm, the transparent translation company becomes a valuable partner and consultant in the pursuit of ever-higher quality and efficiency.

Transparency Truly Begins with Knowing Your Translators

If one of your potential vendors offers transparent localization software, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re operating with honesty. One important outcome of the transparent business model is that you know who your translators are, what qualifications they hold, and how successful they’ve been at translating your content thus far.

It’s easy to take this situation for granted. You would never hire a team of accountants without verifying their credentials and interacting with them personally. Yet, so many enterprises allow professional translation services to keep translators completely removed from all internal communications. Vendors and clients alike want higher-quality translation, but few realize that quality depends on human connection.

The unfortunate truth is that most

LSPs build their businesses within a black box of obscurity. They never reveal who their translators are or how they actually do business. Some vendors put themselves in a double black box by outsourcing the actual translation work to other vendors abroad, so they don’t even know what is going on behind that distant curtain. If you’re working with one of these LSPs, you’ll have absolutely zero insight into the evolution of deliverables. There’s no way to know whether the service you’ve paid for is built on integrity.

It matters how you connect with your translators. It matters how those individuals feel about the work they’re doing for your company. And it matters how your vendor is rewarding them for their efforts.

We demand transparency in the translator-client relationship for the same reason enterprises spend billions each year on improvements to company culture—because positive human connection drives better results. Quality, efficiency, and inspiration abound in companies where everyone works openly and collaboratively toward a common goal.

Unless you have an in-house team of translators, it’s unlikely that you know who’s actually localizing your content right now. If you don’t know who your translators are, you have absolutely no guarantee that these individuals understand your brand, your product, or your voice. You don’t know if they care about your project at all or if they’re being fairly compensated for their efforts and expertise. The only guarantee is that everyone on the other side of that black box is trying to make another buck from your content.

What a Transparent Localization Partnership Looks Like

Overarching business practices are felt but rarely seen by clients who partner with language service providers. When it comes to relationships, it’s the little things that matter most. The daily interactions you have with a localization team will indicate their level of honesty and help you differentiate between the untrustworthy company and the transparent company.

How would your current translation vendor react in the following situations?

Situation A

You expect certain integrations and features with your localization platform.

Untrustworthy Vendor

In the beginning: “We can cover all of those requests, no problem.” Eight months later, when you ask again for services that haven’t yet been delivered: “Don’t worry, those features are still in our road map!”

Transparent Vendor

Provides you with a 200-word linguistic and cultural explanation of why the translation is, in fact, correct.

Some LSPs claim to offer all the tech under the sun—endless integrations, a slew of new features, and advanced API capabilities—yet most fail to deliver on these lofty promises. It’s not good enough to have features that are still “in the works” after a year of delayed deadlines. A trustworthy vendor will communicate frankly and explicitly with you about what technology they will deliver and when. It’s actually a good sign when a vendor pushes back on certain requests and suggests that their service might not be the best fit for your needs. That company is clearly in the business of being transparent.

Situation B

You believe one of the translations your vendor delivers is terrible.

Untrustworthy Vendor

“Sorry, but this translation is good. We’re not going to fix it.” No further explanation.

Transparent Vendor

In the beginning: “We can cover all of those requests, no problem.” Eight months later, when you ask again for services that haven’t yet been delivered: “Don’t worry, those features are still in our road map!”

The untrustworthy vendor in this scenario is clearly not thinking about language in a nuanced way. Linguists understand that language is inherently complicated. A transparent vendor will communicate with deep linguistic knowledge and dedication to their craft. They’ll aim to help you reach a higher level of linguistic understanding—not only to justify what’s in the company’s best interest.

Situation C

You want to start translating content in a brand new language.

Untrustworthy Vendor

“Sure! We’ll translate 500,000 words in Swahili beginning tomorrow morning.”

Transparent Vendor

“No problem. We’ll get you the file by end of day tomorrow.”

If a vendor is ready to translate in a new language at the drop of a hat, it might be a sign that they’re not actually following localization best practices. Nobody can put together a stellar team of translators, editors, and reviewers in less than 24 hours. It’s likely that vendors who promise absurdly quick turnarounds aren’t vetting their translators. They might be shipping your content off to a third party single-language vendor (SLV) abroad and putting your project in front of whoever happens to be “in the office” that day. Rushing translation is one of the biggest localization mistakes a good partner will help you avoid.

Situation D

You request access to your translation memory (TM) and other assets.

Untrustworthy Vendor

“That’s a complicated request. We’ll have to speak with the tech department.”

Transparent Vendor

“No problem. Give us two weeks to put a team together. We’ll have your first deliverable ready within the month.”

Truth time: it’s a one-click process to extract a TM from a CAT tool. If your vendor makes every excuse to indefinitely withhold access to your linguistic assets, they’re hiding something. Many LSPs haven’t taken the time to develop linguistic assets at all and don’t actually have anything to deliver when you ask. They’re banking on the fact that if they delay long enough, you’ll eventually give up and stop requesting access. Trustworthy vendors operate on the principle that linguistic assets are the client’s property. You own those assets, so you should absolutely be able to take them with you when you leave.

5 Steps to Hiring a Localization Company You Can Trust

Often, you don’t know that you’re facing an untrustworthy localization company until you’re in an active partnership with them. But if you’re currently looking at hiring a new content localization service, you can strategize throughout the hiring process to judge how honest your potential partners appear to be.

Here are five steps that will keep you out of the sales funnels of dishonest vendors:

Schedule multiple demos

When you’re hiring a new localization platform, set your first demo with the intention that this will be a straight overview. Let the presenter do their spiel and walk you through their shiny new features. Then schedule a second demo where you come prepared to ask all the tough questions. Watch how the reps respond. Are they willing to be up front and open about the platform’s weaknesses? If so, you might have found a winner. But don’t stop asking questions!

Meet their team

Request a meeting where you can interact with multiple employees who will be working on your content—not just the sales rep. They may be charming and inspire confidence in their service, but that doesn’t mean you should trust the company as a whole. Use your intuition. If you build rapport with multiple team members, that’s a good sign that this could be a positive partnership.

Get an accurate quote

Insist on an apples-to-apples price comparison among all vendors on your short list. Refuse to be satisfied with line items or a price sheet. Force each vendor to price a firm quote on what they would charge you to do the same relatively complex job (such as a sample multimedia project)—and don’t be swayed by those who claim they can “beat any price.” A good partner will give you an accurate quote and encourage you to shop around to find the partnership that best fits your needs.

Ask to test the translators

If you’re not allowed to test the translators, it’s likely because the vendor doesn’t want you to know who they are. _They_ might not even know who they are. The company might be concerned that you’ll see a lack of qualification or experience and doubt the viability of your partnership. They might also fear that if their translators communicate directly with a client, they’ll jump ship to work for your company for a better wage. Both situations reveal a flawed and manipulative business model. When you ask to test a vendor’s translators prior to signing a contract, the only appropriate answer is, “of course.”

Request sample translations

Sample translations let you see firsthand how a company works behind the scenes. To be clear, this test is not about how good the translation is. It’s about seeing how the vendor would operate if you presented them with a real project. Do you get to know anything about the translators? Did the vendor perform any terminology research? Was it easy for you to approve the project? Sample translations allow you to test the fit and feel of a partnership before signing on the dotted line.

The Ultimate Benefit of a Transparent Translation Company

In the interest of full transparency, you might get decent translation results with companies that are less than trustworthy. This is business, after all, and every player in this game is trying to make decisions that positively impact the bottom line. Big-box LSPs might be cheaper and quicker than the alternative. But by hiring a transparent localization company, you grasp the valuable opportunity to bring humanity back into the translation process.

For companies that are dedicated to transparency, translation is much more than just a business proposition. Language is our passion, and the individuals who work with it are our most important partners. We value our translators and our relationships with clients, and we operate within a business model that significantly benefits both parties.

If you’re looking to improve your translation quality—and the quality of your vendor relationships—you should seriously consider partnering with a localization company that prioritizes transparency. Translators, vendors, and clients alike have everything to gain from that kind of mutually beneficial relationship.

At Bureau Works, we run our business on a foundation of radical transparency. Our translators set their own rates, and each of our clients has a direct line of communication with the individuals working on their content. There’s no behind-the-scenes, black-box, red-tape obscurity. With BWX, we use technology to maximize our ability to connect with other people and create content that changes the world. If you want to know what a transparent localization company looks like in action, contact our team.