Translation firms are often entrusted with very sensitive information. Translation projects might include sensitive legal documents, software code for important products and proprietary internal sales training materials. But confidentiality shouldn’t be your only concern.

Typically corporate clients will ask for non-disclosure agreements before beginning any translation projects where sensitive information may be distributed. The agreement certainly covers confidentiality and details what is expected of both parties but it doesn’t necessarily cover operational issues. Here are three important points to consider:

1. How does your vendor backup their data?

When entering into a long term relationship with a translation vendor you should understand that over the course of a few years the vendor may accumulate a significant amount of project files that could potentially be a valuable backup for your organization. It would be a good idea to review how backups are handled. You should cover what type of media is used. It is estimated that CD/DVD based backups only carry a shelf life of 2 to 5 years. Cloud based storage is becoming more popular but if your vendor uses this type of solution verify that the data is being properly encrypted and that industry standards are being followed.

2. Access to old data

The backup of the data is important but how quickly data can be restored is key to the process. When an emergency occurs the restored data is typically needed very quickly. Verify the length of time required for a request to restore project data. You should also verify how long the data is kept. You may also want to cover if there are any fees for un-archiving the data.

3. Access to translation memory

Most, if not all, language service providers use translation memory technology. The actual translation memory or database is a by product of working on your projects. The ownership of this database has been a point of contention between clients and language service providers for many years. I would cover ownership of this valuable resource before you begin any work with the vendor. I would also ask about any associated fees with the export of the database as well as what intervals you would like to receive these exports. Some clients prefer the resource exported with every assignment while others request annual or quarterly exports.

Covering these important topics before working with a vendor will make sure everyone understands the proper treatment of your valuable data. It will also prevent any misunderstanding of ownership of an important resource like translation memory.

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