7 Things Translation Buyers Need to know about Translation Vendors
November 28, 2011
With hundreds of language companies offering translation services today, it can be difficult to assess and choose the one that is right for you. To help you navigate through the process, we have compiled a list of 7 key questions translation buyers should ask about translation vendors.
#1 How can this language company help me solve my big picture requirements?
Most reputable language companies will be able to meet your basic translation needs. What may make the difference between a one-time collaboration and a long-lasting business relationship, however, is the translation vendor’s ability to help you with broader international issues.
Language companies often have significant experience dealing with everyday globalization issues. Take advantage of that experience and ask tactical or strategic questions that go beyond linguistics. A really great translation company will have your best interest at heart and will consistently go above and beyond its stated scope to keep you happy and help you grow your business.
#2 What makes this language company the right fit for my project?
Keep in mind that some language companies only work in certain language pairs (e.g. English into German), or handle very specific subject matter (e.g. eLearning localization.) Other translation vendors offer the entire spectrum of language services, but can’t handle a large volume of specialized work. A reputable language company will not take on a project unless they are confident that they can meet your specific needs. Be up front with the translation vendor from the start so that they can be sure they are a good match for your project.
#3 Who will actually work on my project?
You wouldn’t hire a freelance travel writer to draft a business contract and similarly, you can’t expect, for instance, just anyone who is bilingual to be able to translate a technical oil and gas document. A deep understanding of the subject matter is usually required to understand and translate a text accurately and it’s preferable for a translator to translate into their native language. As a buyer you need to ensure that the translation vendor works with skilled professionals who can offer the services you specifically require. Ask about how translation vendors pick their linguists and how they monitor the development of technical translation work.
#4 How can I ensure the quality of my translation?
Quality is a given in the world of translation and every language company will advertise high quality work. To assess the vendor’s quality control process, find out how they evaluate and monitor their translators and what kind of relationship they have with them. Most reputable translation vendors will be able to provide a list of satisfied clients. Make sure the company has glowing recommendations.
#5 How can I best manage the cost structure of my translation?
You need to know how the language company will bill you. Find out if there are any additional fees for project management or scanning and printing charges. You will also need to know if you’ll be charged for formatting, voice over or desktop publishing. Be particularly mindful of per hour charges that may disincentive productivity. Find out about charges that appear as a flat fee, or as a percentage of the total cost. Also, ask about whether using translation memory software may save you money.
#6 How can we work together to meet my delivery requirements?
As a translation buyer, there are several things you can do to move your translation along as quickly as possible. If you have a strict deadline, make this clear to the translation vendor up front so that they can allow enough time for review and revision. Make sure that your file is finalized, well written, and formatted, to save the translator valuable time. Voice all questions and concerns from the beginning to help avoid time-consuming surprises along the way.
#7 Does this translation vendor provide excellent customer service?
Let’s say you receive a document at 5pm on Friday that needs to be translated and sent out by Monday morning. Does it sound challenging? A personal relationship with your translation vendor (and specifically with the project manager) may be the factor that makes the difference between a peaceful and relaxed weekend or a seemingly ruined and stressful one. Customer service means seeing you as a person rather than just a client. A great project manager will go the extra mile to make sure your translations are successfully executed no matter what the circumstances.
We would love to hear your real life comments about what has worked for you when choosing a language translation agency. We welcome your feedback in the comments section!
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If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.