Ecommerce, international subsidiaries, global networks – there is hardly a company today that can be considered completely “local”. Even SMEs are operating internationally, which means they need to sell to foreign-language markets. That is where the need for outsourced translation services comes in.
Translation is a necessary part of a global or international rollout or expansion. Most countries enforce strict product safety regulations, requiring companies to provide documentation in the local language in tandem with any product launch. And even when it isn’t required by law, adapting your content to appeal to your local target markets around the world is highly recommended for no less reason than the fact that customers only buy what you are selling if they understand it.
But, is it necessary to translate all of your marketing brochures and product manuals into all languages at once? And do you really need to outsource the entire translation project?
Deciding on a translation strategy with clearly defined priorities before you begin to outsource translation services is important. If you are planning a partial launch of your product portfolio abroad, there’s no need to localize the entire website into the target language. On the other hand, if you have a wide range of content that requires translation, ordering several languages at once might be a better use of your allocated budget. By combining effective query management with consistent documentation of any issues encountered before and during the project, these issues may be resolved and proactively prohibited from occurring when translating into additional languages.
Long-term planning is key to reducing cost when starting a translation project. However, cutting the budget in some areas may do more harm than good. Professional translation is one of those areas. This is true even if you have bilingual people in your team that can make do with free online translation tools, or your new intern “is really good at Spanish”. Here are 5 reasons why the decision to outsource translation projects is wise:
Translators study for years to be able to do what they do. And it shows in the end results. They are not only experts in the source and target languages, well-versed in the technical terminology and in-tune with different text types. They also have the required skills in the necessary translation tools, which means they know how to produce cost-effective and consistent translations. They are familiar with text formats and are research-savvy, i.e. they know where to look for information if they need to research your topic. And they are also excellent business writers.
Alright, so now that you’ve resolved the first issues and moved on, your translation service provider will engage a specially appointed project manager to handle any and all of the project related questions. This person communicates both with the translator and with you. The project management department is the heart of any translation agency. Project managers select suitable translators, communicate with other departments such as proof reading, technology and quality assurance, and also stay in touch with the customer. They collect, collate, and escalate questions and their answers from all sides while making sure all the correct databases (translation memories, terminology lists, etc.) are consulted in order to produce consistent translation that follows corporate guidelines. Last, but certainly not least, the project manager keeps an eye on the agreed budget to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
A professional localization project includes much more than flawless translation. Customers expect – and rightly so– that the end result looks (and sounds) just like the source material, albeit in another language. But great output from the translation process can sometimes require great input. Already in the preparation stage, experienced desktop publishing professionals may be required for exporting translation-ready files so that when they are reimported later the layout remains the same or is easily adapted to the target language. These tasks require a special skillset and the right infrastructure. Not only does a professional translation service provider have access to a stable of highly-trained DTP resources, they also have the right software and hardware.
It is important to think about your localization strategy long before you actually outsource translation. Ideally, this is when creating the source material. Regardless of whether you are creating an e-Learning project or related software, a software user interface, or boiler plate for a content management system, you should be cognizant of the effects of localization into various target languages right from the start. In other words, you should internationalize your fundamental design. One obvious reason for doing this is that languages vary in length, and many languages are longer than English.
That is why you should take future translation projects for more expansive languages into account when generating content in the source language. Leaving enough room in subtitles and expanding user interface elements, etc., to accommodate longer target languages is a way to avoid subsequent issues and save on the total translation cost. When localizing software, one must also remember that date and number formats often differ from the source language. Other typical considerations are where to position hotkeys and how to handle multibyte and bidirectional languages. There are many more.
A professional translation service provider is aware of potential pitfalls and knows how to avoid them. That is – after all – what they do for a living, so they develop and can apply the needed expertise.
However, many professional language service providers nowadays have the capacity to do so much more. Not only can they transcribe and translate your multimedia content, some providers even offer audio recording, dubbing, and multilingual video and e-learning post-production. The result is a complete, finalized video that can be published on- or offline right away.
If you have larger translation volumes, texts that are not meant to be published, for example, the translation service provider may offer you a workflow with machine translation and efficient post-editing.
Even without translation automation, you may find that getting in touch with a language service provider can be really helpful; they can offer tips on what translation tools to use, consult with you on how to start building a corporate terminology database, and find the optimal solution for incorporating localization in your content management workflow. Many language service providers also offer consulting services for translation-oriented authoring, editing for technical writers, or copyediting for marketing texts.
Sooner or later, any multinational company develops a need to outsource translations to professional translation and localization services. Because, wherever global goes, multilingual follows.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katrin Marheinecke works as a Quality Manager at text&form in Berlin. After earning her Master’s degree in Slavic and American Studies and Linguistics, Marheinecke moved to Eastern Europe to work in the field of German as Second Language. In 2006 she started out in the language business as a translator and editor. In 2007 she joined the text&form project management team. Her versatile insights in the translation process make her the perfect resource to analyse translation workflows from every angle. Since attaining certification as a Quality Representative in 2012, Marheinecke is more dedicated than ever to the task of identifying areas for improvement in the translation process.