Whether you’re taking your first steps into the world of language translation or you’re a seasoned localization pro, shopping for translation services can be an intimidating prospect if you don’t know what to look for. Overwhelmed as you sift through thousands of language service providers, you may feel like you’re playing the language translation lottery—where you blindly choose a provider only to have them fall short of your expectations.
Don’t leave this decision up to chance. Here are five things to know ahead of time so that you can make an educated decision and select translation services that best fit your needs.
1. The scope of your translation program
The first thing you’ll want to understand prior to requesting translation services is the scope of your translation program. This is not to be confused with your first translation project. Knowing how many words and how many language pairs your first project requires is certainly important, but services should also be able to scale to fit the future needs of your program.
Upcoming projects or potential translation opportunities may require new language pairs, larger workflows, additional project managers and other translation services. Partnering with a translation provider who won’t be able to offer these services later forces you to backtrack and research other alternatives – which can be a major hassle and waste of time.
2. What your internal requestor team looks like
To find a translation provider who can better partner with your organization, you’ll need a complete understanding of your internal team. Who is responsible for requesting translations? Do your requestors have certain expectations? Will there be specific points of contact for particular projects? Having an outline of your project requestors and their specific needs will help you find translation services that complement your entire group – eradicating translation inconsistencies and needless costs. Knowing your internal request team will also give you an idea of the specific translation services each of your team members may require – or find added value in.
3. How your multilingual data will be managed
If you’re new to translation services and currently do not have multilingual content, then this is something you’ll want to inquire about. It’s important that your translation provider can adequately capture and manage your multilingual content in a secure, centralized repository known as translation memory. This allows you to reuse any previously translated segments for future projects whenever applicable – which helps control costs and reduce time spent retranslating your company’s content.
If your company has previously requested translations, it’s important to know whether you have access to any existing multilingual content. If you do, language service providers like Sajan can use this data to build a customized translation memory for you – which can then be applied to your future projects, when applicable, to alleviate translation costs and inconsistencies.
4. All of your quality-ensuring tools and requirements
Finding a translation provider who offers quality translations is essential. Yet there are ways you can help ensure translation quality before choosing a translation provider – including the development of style guides and glossaries. These can be given to your translation provider prior to translation to help them adhere to your organization’s terminology, messaging and writing style for each target language.
It’s also important for you to share clear expectations for how you want quality to be measured and controlled. Quality requirements can vary significantly depending on the organization – so making your expectations clear to your translation provider before requesting their services allows them to meet your standards and provide you with satisfactory translation services.
5. Your desired state of transparency
Knowing the fundamental metrics is vital to running a successful business – and the same goes for managing your translation program. If you have little or no business insight into the translations you’re requesting – outside of total costs – you could be overlooking process inefficiencies or implementing an ineffective translation program. Whether it’s scrutinizing your translation quality, pinpointing cost-saving opportunities or charting your translation process control – know your organization’s desired state of program transparency and any business reports you wish to receive from your translation provider. These will not only help you validate the work of your provider, but will also give you better insight into your return on investment from your translation expenditure.
Rushing into a partnership with a translation provider can cause a lot of damage – especially when you find out their services are not customizable to your program’s needs. Be sure you understand these six things about your translation program prior to requesting translation services, and you can be more confident in your choice.
Rachel Chilson is a marketing professional at Sajan, a leading language translation services company with offices around the world.