Translation service buyers face tons of alternatives; everything from free machine translation solutions to professional translation service companies.

How does a translation buyer know what choice to make? This post reviews the top four reasons you should hire a professional firm to handle your next translation project.

Translation memory

The best method for saving money on translation projects is the use of translation memory technology. Translation memory is a smart database that sits alongside the translator and memorizes every segment completed by the translator.

If your company releases updates to your documentation or software, translation memory technology is a must-have. Our long-term clients have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars due to reuse of previously translated content.

Translation memory allows for shorter lead times and greater consistency across projects. It also features terminology management often referred to as a termbase. Termbase technology allows the language service provider to enter the translations for a list of key terminology. Every time a key term comes up in the project, the translator is prompted to use the approved translation.

Expertise

Translation projects can be complicated. They can include mobile applications, desktop software, websites and help systems, etc. Each carries its own set of challenges related to workflow management, managing a client review, handling a functional review (testing the software or application just like a customer would use the product) and quality assurance. Translation project managers are trained to handle a full set of project types and ensure that all aspects of the project are taken into consideration. They also recruit and select the most qualified translators to handle the translation, editing and review tasks associated with the project.

Another subtle but often overlooked responsibility of the project manager is to ensure that all of the text for translation is properly parsed or processed by the Translation Management System (TMS); a responsibility that is extremely important to project success. Occasionally, the TMS will mishandle tags or improperly segment (divide) the sentences in a project. These small issues can diminish the efficiency of the translation memory. One of the most critical functions of proper translation memory management is to make sure each project is built in the same way each time. This function will maximize the amount of content you can reuse due to repetitions and matches.

The amount of discounts available is especially pertinent for companies publishing their documents in a large number of languages. Any mistakes or lost opportunities to save translation costs are multiplied by the number of languages in a given project.

Workflow management

All too often translation projects are handled by unqualified translators. You will often hear of projects being handled by a friend of a friend who studied some Spanish in High School. Yes, this still happens today. Unfortunately, this doesn’t qualify someone to translate the instructions for properly using a defibrillator. If you look at a proper translation workflow, there are at least two steps that have to be there – first pass translation and second pass independent editing. Additional steps will include page production of formatting, functional review, proofreading, client review, etc. Your project manager will make sure qualified professionals handle those tasks.

You can see a sample translation workflow here.

Regulation

Many buyers of translation service are forced to follow stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) as set forth by their quality assurance departments. Other firms are also required by government regulation and quality standards to use vendors that carry some level of ISO registration.

You can learn more about some of the different ISO registrations carried by translation service firms in this post. Most manufacturers will require the ISO 9001 and medical device manufacturers will typically require the ISO 13485.

Having ISO registration alone will not guarantee that you will receive an accurate translation. You should dig into the translation firm’s ISO efforts and ask to review their Quality Assurance Manual as well as the results of their internal audit and any highlights from their continual improvement efforts. Most firms will also measure on-time delivery as one of their key performance indicators so that could be a useful statistic for your research.

While there are a number of other factors that go into using qualified translation services companies, these four factors are fundamental in trusting a firm with your translation projects. A healthy relationship with your provider will lead to more consistent results and lower costs over time.

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