The first thing companies typically do when faced with a translation need is to look to internal resources. That seems like a logical thing to do but over the years we have discovered that the use of internal resources typically leads to inconsistent translation, missed opportunities for translation memory savings and missed deadlines.
Here is a list of four reasons why you shouldn’t use internal resources for translation:
1. Can your internal resources use translation memory tools to show savings across projects?
Almost all language service providers now use translation memory technology. Translation memory is basically another name for an intelligent database that works alongside the translator. The database memorizes or accrues text sentence by sentence in your projects. If the exact sentence or a similar sentence comes up, the database will suggest the previously translated sentence or terminology to the translator. This is incredibly important for an update. The use of translation memory will dramatically decrease your costs and timelines on subsequent projects. We have many long term clients that have driven their net translation costs down by as much as 60% through translation memory savings.
2. Can your internal resources insure consistency across projects?
The use of translation memory and terminology management tools provide for consistency across your projects. This is extremely important with technical terminology. Marketing materials also improve dramatically when corporate branding material is translated consistently across marketing projects (web and print). We are able to provide these support materials to all contributors (translator, editor, reviewer) during the project life cycle.
3. Stick to your knitting. Do your internal resources have any experience in translation?
I think this old adage certainly applies to translation as well as many other fields. It seems that most translation done internally by companies is handled by sales people in the field. Is it a good idea to take your sales people out of the field to translate? Shouldn’t they be in the field selling your products? Also, what qualifications do your sales people have relative to translation? Most linguists that work in this field have advanced degrees in linguistics, education and/or experience in a specific field (medicine, engineering, law), accreditation from a translators organization and of course years of experience in dealing with translation projects.
4. Can your internal resources meet your deadlines and still keep their other commitments?
A good linguist can translate about 2,500 words per day. A good linguist can edit or proofread about 6,000 words per day. A typical corporate website is about 45,000 words. So a typical schedule here at Argo for a project of that size would be 18 days for translation and 7 days for editing or 25 days total. How long would it take your internal resources? If they operate at 50% efficiency of our average linguist you would have your completed site in 50 days. Can you afford to wait for 50 days and also not have that person perform their regular duties in that time period?
The proper use of internal resources relative to translation is for review. Having your internal people review and approve copy before release is a good way of making sure you have buy-in from your teams abroad and that your preferred terminology is being used in translation. However, it is extremely important to set up a framework and process for managing the review or approval process. I hope to cover that in a second blog post later this week.
Peter founded Argo Translation, originally based in Milwaukee, WI, in 1995. Prior to transferring his love of all things international and his savvy business expertise into Chicago’s premier translation agency, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he graduated with a major in finance and human resource management. After graduation he went on to become an Italian translator and project manager for an international medical equipment manufacturer and major airline.