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.
When you seek transparency in the localization industry, you’re looking for two distinct elements:
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.
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 inthe translation workflow and creates an entirely new kind of localization softwar e. 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.