5 steps to make the most of your translation budget

 You’ve gotten the all-clear on your translation and localization budget and you’re ready to go ahead. There’s only one small problem: The total is not quite what you’d hoped for. Now you’re faced with the task of making the best of a translation budget that doesn’t reflect your grand visions for the global markets you and your company want to reach. But all is not lost. Below, we’ve listed five steps you can take to get more bang for your translation buck.

 make the most of your translation budget1. Plan your projects with the bigger
picture in mind

Preparation is everything. An ill-prepared rollout or translation project can result in missing translations, mixed-language screens (in the case of software localization), inconsistent terminology, and multiple review cycles. There are many ways to prepare your translation or localization project for optimal implementation. One is to plan the order of your translation requests strategically. That way, you and your provider can leverage previous translations with the use of TM (translation memory) technology and significantly reduce the overall cost and turnaround times for later translations.

It’s best to contact your language service provider as early in the process as possible to discuss your roadmap. Which brings us to the next point:

2. Set priorities according to your translation budget

It may be helpful (for both you and your translation budget) to consider not only which material should be translated first, but also which target languages to prioritize. Is it critical to translate all content into all relevant languages at this point? Ask your LSP to suggest a few different language combination scenarios. You might find that a specific language proves to be a more cost-effective source language for a number of target languages than the language in which the content was originally written. Depending on the native source language of your content, going through a “pivot” language might actually be your best option.

While it’s always best to localize your content for the intended target audience, some markets are more open to reading and processing information in another language. So, not only do you have the option of putting some target languages on the back-burner, but you can choose to only localize certain types of content. If, for example, you have corporate videos that you want to make available in other languages, think about which markets have a tradition of dubbing their audio, and which markets usually don’t. For the latter, subtitles are a very cost-effective alternative to voiceovers. That way, your intended audience has access to the information in their native language, even though the audio remains in the source language. We’re not saying they’re the best option for every situation, but they may be good enough for tight budgets.

3. Streamline the translation process

Talk to your language service provider (LSP) ahead of time to make sure you find the best workflows for your needs. Chances are your LSP can offer you new perspectives and insight into technologies to streamline the process and integrate your in-house solutions (such as your CMS). Your LSP can also advise you on which type of translation technology would work best for your content and update cycles. If you are dealing with large volumes, certain text types may be suitable for machine translation with human post-editing.

4. Optimize your files

Did you know that you can prepare your content in ways that help streamline the localization process, which in turn saves time and reduces the strain on the budget?  Some steps, such as sending the original editable source files (xml, doc(x), indd, etc.) instead of PDF output, seem rather obvious. There may, however, be other options (such as flagging certain elements in your XML as new content, content to be reviewed, UI elements, etc.) that allow for quicker turnaround times, tighter update cycles and focus-driven QA processes. This way, you can reduce the content volume that needs to be manually processed without compromising the results.

Other items worth considering are graphics and images with potentially localizable text elements. If at all possible, you should opt for “localization-friendly” formats such as SVG or maintain vector layers that can easily be extracted and re-imported for localization purposes.

5. Consider multilingual terminology management

Preparing and managing an up-to-date terminology database that your authors and other content creating team members have access to will not only result in higher-quality content (in any language). It will also help reduce ambiguity in the source, which in turn increases the efficiency of translation memory solutions and helps cut costs.

When planning your translation budget, treating terminology management as an afterthought is a mistake. Ideally, terminology management takes place even before you plan your project. It will decrease the review workload (and thus the cost) because the reviewers will have access to approved corporate terminology. The actual terminology validation can be carried out with automated workflows, which will reduce the cost and speed up the process. It will also keep your content producers from using forbidden and/or outdated terms. Terminology management ensures that your brand voice stays intact across all languages and markets.

All in all, there are many ways in which you can stretch your translation budget if you go about it strategically, and start thinking about it in time. Don’t hesitate to contact your language service provider before you start placing your translation orders. In many cases, they will be able to offer you guidance or suggest technology for optimized workflows that better suit your translation budget.




Jenny Nilén works as marketing communications manager at text&form. She graduated from
Uppsala University with a Master’s Degree in Nordic Languages after which she quickly left the North for Berlin, in pursuit of her true passion: marketing. Today, she is responsible for all things marketing at text&form, where she uses language mostly as a tool for communication.