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Acquiring Translation Services

Photo credit: Michelle Meiklejohn

If you have operations in multiple countries or are looking to establish operations in multiple countries then there is a strong probability that you will need to translate some of your content. You might ask yourself why do I need to take translation services seriously?

Can you imagine a foreign company expanding to the USA and not having their Marketing material in proper English? Or their Customer Service representatives not knowing the company policies? If this seems unprofessional & unprepared, then it will also be unprofessional & unprepared for your organization to expand to another country and not be able to properly communicate with your customer base in their native language. In fact, a study conducted by the independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory, found that customers are 6 times more likely to buy if product information is in their native language.

Additionally, there will be a need to put the Operations pieces in place before you can start operating in a foreign country. For example, you might need legal contracts, financial documents, engineering specs, and company policy documents translated. Furthermore, it is more likely that you may need translation services on a on-going basis rather than just a one time deal.

With that in mind, there are four avenues to consider in your acquisition of translation services:

  1. Use internal employees as translators in addition to their regular job functions;
  2. Hire new employees as dedicated translators;
  3. Outsource all translation needs to a Language Services Provider (LSP);
  4. Use a hybrid approach of the 3 options

First thing to do is to analyze and estimate your need for translation services. Historically, companies who are expanding overseas have under estimated their need and did not properly create an acquisition infrastructure for translation services. As a result, not only did they have to spend 25% to 40% more on translation services, but also had to accept the translations at a lower quality due to the fact that the content needed to be translated urgently.

Once you’ve established your level of need for translation services, the next step in the process is to decide what approach you want to use. There are pros and cons to all 4 approaches.

Using internal employees as translators in addition to their regular job functions can seem to be a very attractive option. If your translation needs are infrequent and do not require a certain background then this option might work. For example, if the employee that speaks the target language is in Finance and you need a Financial statement translated then this option might work. But it is not recommended to use the internal employee with background in Finance to translate a Legal contract even though he/she might speak the target language. The reason being that the employee with Finance background might not be familiar with Legal terminology. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all speakers of the target language can be translators.

Hiring new employees as dedicated translators might not be economically feasible for all companies. In addition to keeping them busy all the time, you also have the challenge of acquiring and maintaining a sustainable translation infrastructure in place. For example, having a Information Technology infrastructure for Computer Assisted Translation tool, Translation Memory, and Terminology files requires careful planning and can be quite daunting for most small to mid sized companies.

Outsourcing all translation needs to a Language Services Provider (LSP) is an option that many companies give a serious consideration to. However, this option might not be feasible for all companies because it requires considerable level of integration of the LSP into your documentation operations. For example, it might be worthwhile to implement translation management software to automate most of your translation needs. This will not only automate your translation services related operations, but in the long run it will also cut down your translation costs in various ways. In order to do this, you have to have a stable demand for translation services.

Using a hybrid approach of the 3 options is something that most companies that have been acquiring translation services for 2 to 3 years end up choosing because it offers the most flexibility.

It is noteworthy that if you’re just starting out in acquiring translation services, your best option is to go directly to a Language Services Provider (LSP) because you will need the experience and the quality driven work flow of the LSP. Moreover, a LSP such as EPIC Translations, can provide multiple linguistic resources and customize a translation flow that caters to your business that yields a world class production ready translation.

In our next white paper, we’ll go over how to select a Language Services Provider (LSP) that can adapt to you and your business needs. To automatically receive the next white paper, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter on the right side.

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