Choosing translation services
Choosing translation services

Managing multilingual translation projects in an international organization brings with it exciting but also challenging tasks for translation managers. For example, when the translation volumes required go beyond internal capacities and possibilities, you will have to consider external translation services. Even if  there are countless options for translation services out there, which one should you choose? 

How you can profit from translation services

First of all, your requirements should be clear. Here are some typical questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you need a wide variety of languages covering a broad range of subject areas? 
  • Do you need translations in different languages at the same time, or do you need translations into one specific language? 
  • What is the estimated translation volume you manage per year? 
  • What role do time and costs play in your translation projects? 
  • Do you want to connect with the translation company or translator via a CAT Tool or Translation Management System? 
  • Do you need graphical or advanced technical support? (e.g., text embedded in figures, layout-oriented files, tagged HTML and XML files).
  • Do you need additional support such as proofreading, editing, transcription, transcreation (e.g. for SEO keywords), advanced localization services for Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) and software products? 

As soon as you have a good idea of what you really need in terms of translation services, you can start sorting out the possibilities and comparing them carefully.

Know your benefits: translation company vs. freelance translator

Let’s continue with one of the basic decisions when choosing translation services. Selecting a translation service provider involves advantages and limitations, whether you go with a translation company, a freelance translator, or even a mix of both.,

Most translation companies can select suitable translators from a large database. What this means for you is increased flexibility and availability. When you have to deal with many source and target languages, you can be sure that a translation company will quickly find a suitable translator. Imagine that your manager asks you to organize a translation project for a language you’ve never worked with before. Here you can save energy and leave the choice to your translation company. Or worst-case scenario: the translator has fallen ill, and your project is on ice. A crisis-proof translation company knows what to do and will find a suitable replacement. 

On the other hand, the documents to be translated will pass through many different hands, from a project manager at the translation company to the translator and, depending on the standards applied, an editor and/or a proofreader. Last but not least, a graphics designer might be involved if you ordered desktop publishing services. This means indirect communication with many different people via the project manager, which affects the time and cost factors. 

So if you prefer direct communication with your translators and other team members, and you have a manageable order volume, you can also opt for a freelance translator provided that they can offer all the services you require. Of course, you can match both options, but don’t forget: the more partners you choose for external translation services, the more resources you will use, considering aspects such as translation memory exchange and management, glossary maintenance, and internal costs required for managing external resources.

How to get both affordable translation services and high quality

Normally, pricing is one of the crucial factors when looking for translation services. High quality translations do not always mean very high word prices. When you opt for a larger translation company rather than a single freelance translator, don’t be surprised that this will become visible in the costs. As mentioned earlier, many more people are involved when you choose a translation company, and they all need to be paid. The larger and more complex the processes of your translation service provider, the higher the word pricing is likely to be. 

Beware of huge translation agencies offering dumping prices. You can imagine who will have the smallest share of the fee – the translators. And unmotivated translators are not what you’re looking for. An exception to this rule: translation companies applying Machine Translation combined with a post-editor rather than conventional human translation processes can offer extremely favorable word prices. But don’t forget to first check with the project manager that your source texts are suited to MT processes in terms of language, subject area, quality and complexity.

Among freelance translators, you may also encounter big differences in pricing. Experienced translators with a large customer base can often afford to work for higher prices than translators who are only just starting to run their business.

Learn more and become an expert in translation & localization

If translation management seems a bit overwhelming at this point,don’t despair! Join the TCLoc Master’s study program to get to know the world of translation, localization and technical communication. Benefit from the expertise of industry professionals and master the skills needed to manage your translation projects successfully. Take a step in the right direction: apply today! 

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